Four easy ways to improve the farmer/landowner relationship

Business relationships are hardRelationship

How do you improve the relationship with a new farmer and/or an existing one who has rented your land for many years? Relationships are hard work and it can be even harder when the time you spend together is limited. This is the case for many landowners who are renting their farmland.  So how can you improve the relationship with your tenant?

  1. Define what the big picture looks like for the farm.

Both you and the farmer have ideas of what each want to achieve, and working together is a must. You share your goals, he or she shares theirs. What are each of your goals with the land? What type of farming practices help achieve it? What kind of revenue goals do each of you have? Being up front with each other on setting goals is very important.

  1. Know what is of value to you; and then share that with each other.

You values are those things that matter most to you in life and in business. One common theme in business relationship struggles is when one person feels like they are getting the shorter end of the stick. Take the time to understand each other’s values and how you can support one another.

  1. Know and use each other’s expertise.

Everyone has strengths and your expertise is usually strengthened by your passion. Working together and allowing each member’s strengths to be used will help create an even stronger team. If you are a landowner and you have a straight cash lease agreement, your influence will be much more limited than the landowner who is renting on a crop share plan. In both cases, mutual respect for each person’s strengths will add value to the team.

  1. The last thing and this is maybe the hardest, separate fact from feeling.

Emotion is something that can be a wedge in a good partnership. The relationship between you and the farmer is a partnership. When it comes to business and life, facts are the facts. How you present the facts is another story. Make sure to use the right tone and words when working in what could be a tense situation. The relationship is important, so create conversation that will build the relationship and not tear it down.

I know there may be many other ways to help improve the relationship you have with the farmer renting your land, but here are a few take-home tips. The biggest thing is to spend time with them and keep an open line of communication. This will go a long way as you continue with the farmer for many years to come.

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