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How to build the best farm operation

Finance First: Take time to answer questions and set goals to align with your farm’s values.

Darren Frye, CEO

June 24, 2024

3 Min Read
Midwest farm with red barn and spring corn field
Getty Images/Ron and Patty Thomas

Most farm leaders are interested in improving their farm businesses – to make them the best they can be. But that can seem like a long journey when you’re just getting started working on the business side of your farm operation.

Many farmers have questions about where to get started and how to make sure that they will reach the result they want. But before that, there are several questions that you’ll want to ask yourself as the leader of your operation.

Develop a vision

The first thing to consider when you start on a journey of improving your farm and making it the best it can be is: Why?

Why do you want to work on goals for your farm? Each farm’s leadership team will likely have its own unique reasons and motivations to improve the operation.

Next, you can work on figuring out what your vision is for the future of your farm. Having a clear idea of your vision will help greatly when it comes to determining what you will need to do to get to the right end goal. A vision for your operation will help you hone in on the right areas to focus on, that will help you raise your farm to the next level.

Your farm’s vision can be very ambitious – as ambitious as you want it to be! Try looking into what the future of ag will require. Consider what will make your farm stand out in amazing ways.

Create action steps

Then, it’s time to work on setting some concrete goals and plans to reach your vision. Consider different pathways to reaching your farm’s vision – there may be multiple viable options. Sometimes, that can make decision-making feel more difficult in certain ways when there are lots of good pathways and opportunities available.

The real question is: What’s most in line with the values you use day-to-day to lead your farm and make decisions? Your values will provide the way to help you and the other leaders on your farm in deciding the best path forward and specific goals.

Building the best possible farm operation for you and your family or farming partners involves a process of making many decisions – both about what you will do on the farm and what you will not do. As you continue along the path of creating the operation that you envision in the future, be sure to stay in touch with your values.

You can also work with an advisor for your farm to create clear plans and a road map to the future, as well as timelines, goals and checkpoints along the way.

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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