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Doing this can help reduce anxiety around getting in the field.

Darren Frye, CEO

April 20, 2020

3 Min Read
i-Stockr/ThinkstockPhotos

As the time to roll in the fields nears for many farmers, it can be an exciting moment – but also one that can be filled with anxiety. Sometimes when we have all the prep work done and things are ready to go, we feel stuck waiting for the right weather and timing to put the seed in the ground.

During that time, it’s tough to know exactly what we should be doing. Farm leaders and others in the operation want to be out in the field – or at least doing something else productive to advance the farm business. But when the seed is ready, the equipment is good to go, the crop plans are made and business plans are in place, what’s a farmer to do?

Put it through the paces

One helpful practice is to take a test drive – of each area of your plans for this spring and crop year. This means reviewing each plan while putting it through different scenarios that could potentially happen, from an ideal situation to downright ugly.

Taking these test drives now is very helpful for farm leaders. That way, when different conditions – whether out in the field or in the global economy – take place, you’re ready with alternative plans because you’ve already thought it through. While it’s impossible to anticipate everything that could happen, going through this process is key: you won’t end up flat-footed when things change.

Drive it

Here are a few ways to take a test drive of some key plans on your farm this spring.

  1. Your production plans. Production is first, because it’s likely on top of mind right now. From where you are right now, look at your “ideal” production scenario and start considering variations. What will you change if planting is delayed due to wet or cold weather? What are your plans for equipment breakdowns? What if an employee becomes unable to work during planting season? Having a back-up plan or even several back-up plans is key.

  2. Your financial plans. This has been an uncertain time for the entire global economy due to the enormous disruption created by COVID-19. Though no one knows exactly how the whole scenario will play out, try to focus on your operation’s individual financial picture so you can be prepared for whatever happens. Where does your operation stand right now? What are the key numbers and metrics you will be watching this growing season? What do you need to be communicating with your lenders?

  3. Your marketing plans. Marketing is a key area to be “test driving” different scenarios for your operation. It’s especially important right now, before the crop is in the ground. Add in the heightened uncertainty and volatility across the global economy right now, and it’s probably more necessary – and helpful – than ever. Marketing plans in 2020 will need to be dynamic and flexible, ready for opportunities. You must know your operation’s financial situation and needs inside and out – and then plan for a variety of market scenarios. To get some help with that this spring, talk with our market advisors.

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

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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