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Finance First: Take advantage of this time of year to think about the future.

Darren Frye, CEO

December 18, 2023

3 Min Read
Notepad with 2024 goals
Getty Images/Anikona

The end of the year can be a good opportunity to do some goal-setting for your operation. After taking stock of 2023 – the ups and downs, challenges and opportunities – you can start to focus on your upcoming year.

One of the best ways to start doing this is to begin by zooming your focus out to the big picture of what you want most for your operation. Try to consider what you want your farm operation to look like in the next 5 to 10 years.

Future questions

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you piece together what you really want for the future of your farm operation:

  • First of all, why do you farm (hint: go beyond the reason of making a living and supporting your family)? Why farming rather than something else? For you, what is it about farming and the specific way that you go about it on your farm (think about your farm’s culture now and/or the culture you want to create)?

  • What type or types of businesses are going to be involved at that point? What type(s) of crops will be grown or livestock produced? Will any of those be new additions or something that’s going to be gradually integrated over time?

  • Who will be involved in the operation over that time period? Will there be any additional family members returning to the farm? What will their roles be? Will they require any special training? Will you need additional employees to be involved in the operation? Will the farm need to grow in any way to support additional family members?

  • What will the ag operating environment be like in 5-10 years? In what ways do you think it will change or evolve? What will those shifts require from you as a farm leader in terms of navigating any changes or adaptations that will need to be made so your operation thrives into the future?

Related:What’s your farm’s off-season plan this winter?

Goal-setting time

Once you’ve had an opportunity to consider your answers to these questions, you can start to get more tactical in terms of thinking about more specific goal-setting for your farm. Start by setting some major, broad goals for the 5-10 year future timeframe.

These don’t need to be detailed at this point, and it’s very possible that they may seem rather daunting or challenging from where you stand right now. That’s ok – it’s better that the goals are more of a ‘stretch’ when it comes to thinking about your farm’s future and what you want it to be like.

Next, you can start to break each of those major goals down further and further into more ‘bite-sized’ pieces. This is your chance to make the goals more manageable and place specific time frames on those bite-sized chunks.

Related:What key partners does your farm need?

Going through that step is key. Otherwise, without specific steps or timeframes, the major goals can end up seeming too overwhelming to take a step toward. Without a plan that breaks the goals down into action steps and timeframes, the goals run the risk of going by the wayside before any progress begins, so don’t skip that step.

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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