Brother and father don't get along


My brother and I want to take over the farm from our father. The issue is my brother and my dad seem to be at each other's throats all the time. Where do I go from here?


My brother and I want to take over the farm from our father. We both came home to farm after college. We cash crop about 900 acres and milk 110 cows. My brother and I have always got along well. We are good friends. He is three years older than I am. I get along reasonably well with my father. The issue is my brother and my dad seem to be at each other's throats all the time. My brother does not have respect for our father. We have tried to hold family meetings but after two or three meetings they will not sit down to talk anymore. Where do I go from here?


There is a power struggle between your father and your brother that needs to be resolved for you and your brother to eventually take over the farm. The reasons why these two do not get along are complex and probably have a lot of history. You can disagree with someone but still respect each other. With your brother and your dad there does not appear to be much, if any, respect.  Many times the parent just wants the child to acknowledge that they have done their best in raising their children. Your brother's continual challenge of your dad is not giving your dad that acknowledgment.

This brings up the issue of trust, which your father is questioning regarding your brother.
If your father's name is on the farm, what is it going to take for him to turn it over to you and your brother? He is going to need to trust both of you. You are talking about a business probably worth millions of dollars. If you look at it from your father’s point of view would it make sense for him to hand this over to someone who he does not totally trust?   

The difficult part for you in this situation is that your father is not willing to turn control over to your brother until your dad can trust that your brother can make good decisions. Your father probably interprets your brother's lack of respect as an inability to make good business decisions. Your brother may be an excellent farmer, but until he is willing to acknowledge that it is your father's business, it is not going to change hands.

Ask your brother why he gets so angry with your father. It may be something that happened many years ago. If something happened between your father and brother, your father can’t go back and rewrite the past regardless of how much your father would like to do that.

The complicating factor for you is that you may lose your dream to farm along with your brother simply because the business is too large for one person to operate.

Your brother may benefit from taking some time away from the farm and doing something different for a year or more. Consider hiring help to fill in for your brother. A year seems like a long time now but it may help you achieve your dream of farming with your brother. BF

Posted on: 
April 15, 2009