One of the most interesting elements of agriculture is the fact that every farm operation is a unique business. The larger environment that farms operate within is much the same as far as many of the economic, business and market pressures that make up today’s ag environment.
However, the way that different challenges and opportunities will come to impact each operation depends on the particular circumstances that make up and surround that farm operation.
No two alike
Every farmer leads a unique business with its own history, timeline of events, people involved, geography, and so on. These elements add up to mean that no two farm operations are exactly alike – in fact, if two operations seem to be similar, chances are you don’t have to dig in very far to find out they are quite different.
When a farm leader is faced with decisions about where and what to invest in – in terms of new technology, ideas or approaches in their operation – they must first figure out what’s going to be best to improve the farm, in light of its unique needs and circumstances.
This means that the biggest or shiniest things or ideas – or what the neighbor down the road or a friend in another state has decided is right for their operation – might not be what’s going to improve the operation or truly move the needle.
Here are a few thoughts on how to begin evaluating what your farm really needs when you’re looking at investing time or money in something new.
First, evaluate where you’re currently at. What is your operation really good at? Where could you improve? Consider all current capabilities fully – in terms of the production knowledge and education of the people in your operation, equipment capacity and capability, grain storage, farm buildings, business management experience, marketing expertise, and so on.
Next, highlight the areas where you could make a relatively small investment – whether in terms of time, education or money – and potentially generate a big payback in advancing your operation. Maybe you have a list of 15 possible new ideas or approaches to choose from. Look at the investment required versus the payoff and then rate each opportunity with that in mind.
Finally, you as the leader must make the final decision. Think about your farm’s overall mission. Think about where you and your other leaders want the operation to be in the future. Consider your farm’s values and use them to align your decision-making. Sometimes the best investment is in education for yourself or someone else in your operation, rather than the latest and greatest thing.
One area you might consider investing in is your knowledge and understanding of the markets and how to create marketing plans. You can start working now with our market advisors for more education and begin creating custom marketing plans for your operation.