Farm Progress

When change comes from the outside, it’s about your response.

Darren Frye, CEO

April 4, 2016

3 Min Read

The idea that change happens isn’t anything new for agriculture. Farmers have been dealing with change for as long as humans have farmed. Right now, agriculture is within another change – a change in the economic cycle.

This new economic reality in ag, like many of the other changes ag has experienced, isn’t mainly requiring skills that we’ve already built or learned. It’s demanding new skills and new approaches from the farm leader.

As conditions change, farm leaders are taking stock of the approaches they’ve taken in the past to running their farm business. They’re considering different ways to approach the new challenges that have been thrown at them.

Taking stock

When change comes from the outside, the farm leader – the farm’s CEO – has to first take stock of the situation. Next, it’s very important that they sort out what they can control from what they cannot control. This action alone can save the farm leader from a lot of wasted effort and worry.

Then – most importantly – they decide the attitude they’re going to take toward the factors they can and cannot control in their operations. Often, the attitude the farm leader takes toward how to approach and deal with outside change determines how successful the farm will be in overcoming challenges and finding opportunities.

When it comes down to it, the farm’s leader only hurts him or herself – and the farm business – if they decide to complain about changes that are happening or worry about things that are outside of their control. By being proactive, they actually gain more control – of their thoughts and energy – so both can be put to use doing what will actually make a difference to the farm’s success.

Rethink challenges

Rethinking the business challenges impacting the operation can be a way to get more creative and generate new solutions. As the farm leader thinks proactively about outside changes that have or will impact the operation, they may want to ask questions like: How will we stay in front of the changes?

How are we going to get better? What will we do to become more efficient? What new strategies can we try – that will bring us closer to reaching our goals?

As the leader of your operation, what has your approach been around change in general? What has your approach been like during the current economic downturn? How does your approach to change impact your overall operation – and the other people involved in it – employees, family members, and suppliers?

Take stock of your approach to change, and consider a couple new ways to think about some of the biggest challenges your operation is facing. Next week, I’ll share a few more thoughts on this topic. In the meantime, you might consider talking with a farm business advisor about the unique challenges your operation currently faces.

Get more ideas on farm business leadership and management in our Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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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