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Tune in to farm metrics this spring

Finance First: Don't let planting season distract you from farm finances and marketing plans.

Darren Frye, CEO

April 15, 2024

3 Min Read
Aerial view of planting
Getty Images

As it gets closer and closer to “go time” in the fields, it’s clear where the focus will be on farm operations – getting the crop in the ground right, at the right time. When your job is to grow a great crop, that’s obviously the correct focus.

Planting season can happen very quickly sometimes. And once planting is completed, there’s still so much to do to make sure the crop continues growing well.

As farm leaders, however, we need to make sure our focus continues to remain on everything that’s going to help the farm thrive as a business. This often means looking at some of the basics of what it takes to run a successful operation.

Many farms may be facing a potentially challenging 2024 in terms of their farm’s financial position. Others have been managing their working capital very carefully to keep it within recommended healthy ranges.

Wherever your farm is beginning, it’s going to be key in 2024 to keep an eye on the farm’s finances and marketing plans. Consider working with a financial advisor for your farm to set a target for a healthy working capital percentage and then strive to keep the farm within that target all year.

By the numbers

Using financial metrics for your operation can help you manage the farm by the numbers – no matter what type of financial outlook the operation encounters in a given crop year. You can consult with your advisor to set up additional key financial metrics for your unique operation.

Financial metrics are also very helpful when it comes time to make major financial decisions for the operation. I’m thinking here about major purchases – big equipment purchases, land purchases or rental agreements, new buildings or bins. Then you can have your advisor run a feasibility study on the purchase to see what position a major purchase will put your operation in. Many farm leaders feel these studies are very helpful in their decision-making process.

Farm leaders will also want to focus on their marketing plans this crop year. You may have already worked with your advisor to get a marketing plan in place, or maybe you still need to do that. It’s key that the plan be flexible and adaptable, ready to shift when the market offers opportunity or changes.

This spring, you know that much of your attention will be spent on planting the crop. That’s as it should be but be sure to keep an eye on the financial and business side of your operation, too. The markets will keep moving and you’ll be making decisions that will impact your farm’s finances. Stay tuned in to the business side of your farm this spring and consider getting a partner for your farm’s marketing plans and financial side.

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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