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Seek new farm opportunities in 2024

Finance First: Consider all aspects of expanding acres, adding specialty crops or starting a new ag business.

Darren Frye, CEO

May 6, 2024

3 Min Read
Farmer standing in field thinking
Getty Images/iStockPhoto

What comes to mind when you think about opportunity for your farm? One of the main responsibilities that only the farm’s CEO or leader has is to uncover and size up opportunities for the farm operation.

If you’re the farm’s leader, this may or may not be a new way of thinking for you. Being constantly on the lookout for opportunities for your farm in a variety of different aspects and areas is a skill that farm leaders of the future will surely want to cultivate, practice and employ regularly as they lead. If the farm leader doesn’t do it, then it’s very unlikely that anyone else in the operation will.

Many directions

The main question for the leader is: What should our unique farm operation engage in and be involved in? Today in farming, there are any number of ag production or ag-related businesses that operations include as part of their business model and revenue generation.

Everything from growing specialty contract crops, to focusing more on growth in terms of acres, to including a seed dealership or precision ag business – there really are many opportunities out there for farms to grow or diversify, if that’s the direction the leaders want to take.

When the farm’s leaders are looking at a new opportunity to add to the farm, this is the core: What should we choose to invest in, and what should we not invest in? Investment in one area always involves opportunity cost – or the inability to invest in something else because you’ve already chosen to invest in another area.

What’s the cost?

Knowing and valuing the opportunity cost of various opportunities that are available to your farm must involve analysis at the financial level. Very often, business leaders – including farm owners – can find themselves focusing on areas and opportunities that they enjoy, but that might not necessarily be making the farm any money.

That’s why bringing in the financial element is so important. That way, farm leaders can first do a financial “sizing up” of the potential opportunity. This includes putting actual numbers on the spreadsheet as much as possible, and solid estimates where actual numbers can’t be known. Leaders should also look at opportunities in terms of the impact on their farm operation as a whole.

Be on the lookout for opportunity everywhere but be very selective about what you actually implement on your farm. What’s right for one operation isn’t going to be exactly what’s right for you and your farm business. As you gain more experience with sizing up opportunities and which are right for your operation, it may become easier to spot the best ones from farther away.

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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