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Angus Productions Inc.
Copyright © 2009
Angus Productions Inc.

Family Enterprise Management


PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan. 28, 2009) — Producers had the opportunity to ask questions of morning presenters while enjoying an entrée provided by Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) during the NCBA Cattlemen’s College Ranch Cook House Luncheon.

In an earlier Cattlemen’s College session, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) professor Ron Hanson discussed the critical steps of bringing the next generation into the business. Rob and Peggy Brown of R.A. Brown Ranch, Throckmorton, Texas, shared how they have successfully integrated the next generation into their family business. Along with their son, Donnell, they answered burgeoning questions of the luncheon crew.

Discussion included showing not only a commitment to one’s cattle, but also to the family. Allocating time specific to family can be crucial in saving the family relationship.

When asked about the protocol for choosing a successor when dealing with multiple children, Hanson suggested identifying the one who comes back and proves capable of the everyday dealings of the ranch. Also, discover what it is about the business that interests each child. That may lead into the development of different entities, allowing the children to split responsibilities.

“Including multiple children can put a test on their relationships,” Hanson said. “While the parents are alive it works, but when the parents aren’t around any longer, the question is ‘Will the children still be capable of good communication?’”

He reminds producers to “leave the business out of the family life and the family life out of the business.”

Passing land to the child that chooses to come back to the farm can’t be about love. It is a business decision, Hanson says.

Donnell claims that his desire to come back to the farm was a work-right, not a birthright.

“Where you spend your time, thoughts and money the most is where your passion is,” he said.

Agreeing, Hanson advises his students at UNL to go to work in the industry for a couple of years. For students to live on their own and work for someone other than Dad, he finds that when they do decide to return to the family operation they have a greater appreciation for the work they do and their parents. Hanson also suggested that even dear old Dad will appreciate the kids more.

Hanson tells his students that if they receive an opportunity to return to the family farm it is a blessing.

“Things you treasure most are the things you have to work for,” Hanson said. “Your mom and dad owe you nothing — not a farm, ranch or inheritance. If your parents share the farm or inheritance with you, that is a blessing.”

Audience members wanted to know how to portray that message to their own children without running them off.

“Younger kids definitely won’t understand it,” Hanson said. “But when they are older, with families of their own, they begin to realize it. You just have to have faith in the family.”

Donnell announced that if he had heard that from his parents he most likely would have rolled his eyes and said, “Whatever.” But hearing it from someone else really makes it hit home and helps him understand what a blessing he has in building a business from his father’s established ranch with his brother and sisters.

When deciding what to do with a farm or ranch, Hanson advised producers to consult an estate planner and develop a plan; then develop a vision and then sit with your children and convey that message to them. Let them give their feedback, and keep the communication gates open so no one feels left out of one of the most important decisions in one’s ranching career.


Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or distributed without the express permission of Angus Productions Inc. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at (816) 383-5270.