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Leverage what makes your farm unique

Finance First: Capitalize on the differences of your farm operation to attract employees and position yourself to area landlords.

Darren Frye, CEO

May 13, 2024

3 Min Read
Farmer walking through cornfield at sunset
Getty Images/MikhailovStudio

Every farm operation has a variety of factors that makes it unique – that’s one of the most interesting things about family farm businesses in the U.S. – and it’s also what makes customized business planning so important for each farm operation. One size just doesn’t fit all when it comes to farming.

Farms differ from each other in so many ways: the types of soil and geography they farm in, the types of crops grown, the different people and family members that are involved, the farm’s history within the area and the family.

That’s just the start of background factors. There are even more differences when it comes to how the farm operates – the types of production choices that are made, rented vs. owned ground, how you deal with employees, and the relationships you have with landlords, lenders, advisors, suppliers, dealers and the broader community in general.

How to stand out

You can position your farm intentionally to be the farm of choice for employees and to be the first choice for who landlords want to work with. Some of the best ways to do this are to highlight what makes your farm unique, as well as the positive work environment and culture you have built within your operation.

Leaning into what makes your farm unique and highlighting those differences, rather than simply striving to make your operation exactly like the neighbor’s down the road, can help position your farm as the top operation in the area.

Work to show others how the differences of your operation are what creates its strength. For example, maybe your operation has been in the family for several generations and currently involves a mix of both employees and family members. Maybe the family culture has developed and evolved over the years and brought in employees who share those same values. These are all unique attributes of your operation that bring a positive element.

Or maybe your farm has several different ag businesses that are part of the operation. You can show others how those side businesses bring unique knowledge and opportunities to your operation as a whole.

Draft a plan

Consider the advantages of whatever aspects make your farm unique – and then you can work to emphasize them and help create positive opportunity for your operation. Start by listing out what’s different about your farm. Then, write down the unique advantages each of those differences bring.

Choose several of those to start putting together a plan to position your farm as the employer of choice and the first choice for landlords in the area. People will be attracted to your farm operation – especially when the leaders are confident about what the farm is there to do and have a clear sense of how they are going to go about it.

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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