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Build a team of farm business partners

Finance First: Developing a diverse leadership team provides expertise from multiple viewpoints.

Darren Frye, CEO

June 17, 2024

3 Min Read
Three people in field shaking hands
Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Who do you consider your farming business partners? Farms can have a number of different scenarios when it comes to how many people are involved on the leadership team.

It doesn’t have to be limited to a partner in terms of farm ownership. So it could mean anything from just you and your spouse, to you and your dad and uncle, you and your child. Some farmers might consider themselves the only leader in the operation, or they have surrounded themselves with a team of professional advisors to draw insights from.

When it comes to your farming partners, how are you best leveraging their expertise? It’s likely that they bring different strengths to the table than you do. The best farm leaders will work to figure out exactly what those strengths are, and then bring those out to build the farm’s strength.

The leader will be able to tap into each farming partner’s ideas when there’s a major decision on the line, to get their take on it. Each person can provide some unique input and insight from their own viewpoint.

Getting it together

Do you feel like you have a team of farm partners that you can trust for advice and insight? If you’re currently the main leader on the farm, consider working to bring your farm’s next generation more closely into decision-making. Ask what they would do or for their thoughts on different situations and decisions that the farm is facing.

You can also consider creating a team of advisors around you – with various areas of expertise that you can draw on for your own business decisions. Having both the internal input of others on the farm – whether current or future leaders – as well as the external input of third-party advisors who bring a slightly more objective view, can be a great combination. It can also help leaders not feel so alone in decision-making.

On the farm, it all starts with figuring out the strengths that each member of the leadership team (or future leaders) can or will bring to the table. Do they bring unique experience from outside of farming? From experiences on other farms? Experiences from education or other programs?

Diving in

Additionally, you can encourage them to seek greater experience and/or education in their areas of specialty that contribute to the farm overall. If they don’t think they have an area like that yet, work with them to help select one to dive deeper into.

In terms of your farm’s circle of outside expertise, what areas do you currently have filled? Do you work with your lender as a farm partner – with them educating you further and having a common goal of your farm’s success? This is perhaps the best type of lender relationship for a farm business.

Are there any areas of the farm that are critical to business success where the farm would benefit from some further third-party outside expertise and advice? What are the areas of the farm where success is most important to the overall health of the farm business? Consider finding and working with a trusted advisor for your farm in those couple of areas.

Farmers have found that getting some third-party perspective from our market advisors has helped ease their minds. The advisors help farmer clients with planning and execution around marketing decisions and help keep them up to speed on the current rapidly-changing grain market situation – and how it impacts their operation.

Get a free two-week trial of our marketing information service (MarketView Basic). Your free trial includes regular audio and video updates, technical analysis, recommendations and more. Learn more about our market advisor programs and offerings at

About the Author(s)

Darren Frye

CEO, Water Street Solutions

Darren Frye grew up on an innovative, integrated Illinois farm. He began trading commodities in 1982 and started his first business in 1987, specializing in fertilizer distribution and crop consulting. In 1994 he started a consulting business, Water Street Solutions to help Midwest farmers become more successful through financial analysis, crop insurance, marketing consulting and legacy planning. The mission of Finance First is to get you to look at spreadsheets and see opportunity, to see your business for what it can be, and to help you build your agricultural legacy.

Visit Water Street Solutions

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