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Finance First: How do you figure out where to invest your time and money on the farm?

Darren Frye, CEO

February 26, 2024

3 Min Read
Farmer holding clipboard and pen
Getty Images/iStockPhoto

How do you know what the top priorities are on your farm? It seems like that question can be answered more easily at some times than others.

Here’s why this is important to answer. When farmers are working to improve their operations, there might be a number of major projects on the list. Often, all the projects are good ones – that will help advance the operation. That keeps the farm consistently working to get better.

But the truth is that both time and money are limited resources for farm leaders – and for everyone, for that matter. Prioritizing becomes the key when you’re looking at set amounts of both time and money. Farm leaders know this instinctually, but what’s the best way to figure out where both of those are best spent in both the short and long-term?

Map to the future

The best way to start determining your farm’s top priorities is to know where your farm is headed in the future. That can begin with conversations between you and the other leaders in your operation. Talk about where each of you sees the farm headed in the next 10-20 years, who will be involved, and what will be involved.

Then, the next step is to figure out what it’s going to take to get to that desired future. What plans need to be made? What are the timeframes for those plans? Who will be responsible for executing each plan? Who is responsible for making sure everything is getting done in the right timeframes?

These are great questions to be working on as a farm leadership team. The answers to them will reveal what the farm’s top priorities need to be in the next 1, 5, 10, and 20 years. Figuring out where to invest time and money can become a little bit easier when the farm’s leaders know where they really want to end up.

Look ahead

Often, farm leaders might not have these types of conversations. There can be a couple reasons for that. Since there’s always so much to do and to get done on the farm, it might seem like there’s just not enough time to sit down together as leaders to discuss the future and plan for it.

But I would say that the time you spend planning a direction for the farm’s future and then creating action plans based on that will only help you save time, energy, and money. The reason is because when everyone knows the plan and priorities, they can simply work hard in that direction, rather than having to wonder what they should be doing or what the priorities are long-term. Everyone can make decisions that help drive to and contribute to those larger goals, often even without having to be told what to do.

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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