Price swings affect buying decisions

My dad and I agreed to buy a new corn planter together. We ordered it last fall. I could pencil it out then, but not now with sinking prices. Am I obligated to go through with it? Either way I’m dreading telling Dad.

Dunteman: Does your farm really need a new planter? Your equipment dealer may be able to place the planter with another producer. Put together your cash flow and discuss the issue with your father. Perhaps he could actually buy the planter, and you could “rent” your share from him if your cash flow doesn’t justify a purchase.

Hayhurst: Check with the dealership. Determine if there’s any liability to backing out of the contract. Discuss the result with your dad. Consider making do with the equipment you have for a few more years.

Hess: Talk to your dad first and see what he’s thinking. Then approach the dealer and see what the options are. This involves some of your business integrity and planning skills. We feel if we commit to a contract, we are bound to follow through. A planter is a long-term investment, and some of the cost can be justified by increased efficiency.

Taylor: Have a management team meeting to get the facts in the open and make a good decision on the planter. The longer you wait, the worse the situation gets. Let Dad help solve this investment management challenge. The mistake is pretending that there is no problem.

Dream vacation?

My wife earned a week’s trip through her work. We would take it before planting season. I raise livestock with two brothers. One said to go and have a good time. The other frowned and said I had to pay someone to work for me. He’s serious. How do I resolve this?

Dunteman: Don’t all family members take an annual vacation? Every business operation should have at least a week vacation for family members, with the business providing replacement labor. Have a family business meeting and air the vacation issue with all family members present. The negative brother needs to explain his logic to all members, not just you.

Hayhurst: Sit down with your brothers together and discuss your potential absence. If the one won’t budge, ask for his recommendation on your substitute. Leaving that decision in his lap might ease the tension. Then offer to pay the substitute’s wages.

Hess: Every farm with multiple managers needs a vacation policy — written is best. If there are different expectations, this can be a major area of contention. Have a discussion with both of your brothers to work out what your farm operation policy is — how many weeks, who covers chores and farm organizational involvement, and how that counts. Time off with your family is important. Work out something so you’re all on the same page for the long haul. Enjoy the trip with your wife.

Taylor: It really depends upon whether it takes more than two people during that week to take care of things. If two can do it, see if you can arrange a trade with both brothers so that each can take a week away. If they aren’t interested in a break, or if two people can’t do it well, hire someone. Definitely get away!

This article published in the February, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

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