The Power Of Peer Groups In The Agriculture Community: Developing Business Management Strategies While Benefitting Mental Health
As farms increase in complexity producers require more resources to help them develop sound business management strategies. Historically, peer groups gained popularity through use in supporting participants mental health. More recently they have been utilized in many industries, including agriculture, as a professional development tool.
Although a farmer’s main motivation for joining a peer group may be professional in nature, developing and following business strategies is proven to positively impact farmers mental health. The benefits of peer groups also can affect the next generation of farm managers who are less likely to follow a business plan, and more susceptible to job-related stress. Regardless of the farm’s current position in their process of succession, the members benefit from the opportunity to learn from their fellow members and be a part of a community where they can be open and vulnerable.
To achieve the benefits of a peer group elements should be incorporated into the group’s organization. Structural elements include a trained facilitator, confidentiality agreement, pre-determined meeting logistics, and rules around roles and member curation. Peer groups are a powerful management tool for developing business management strategies which will help the next generation of producers succeed.
Keywords: support, professional development, community, mental health, business management, succession