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What’s your farm’s biggest challenge so far this year?What’s your farm’s biggest challenge so far this year?

Learn three steps that can help you lead more proactively.

Darren Frye

September 8, 2020

3 Min Read
hog farm buildings_Darwin Brandis_iStock_Getty Images-951798010.jpg
Darwin Brandis/iStock/Getty Images

As a farm leader, you know that each crop year brings its own challenge or set of challenges. There can be similarities between different crop years, but ultimately each one is unique in some way. The one thing they have in common is the fact that there will be some sort of challenge or challenges that year – you just don’t know exactly what it will be.

What’s been the biggest challenge your farm has dealt with in 2020? Challenges can throw everything for a big loop, or they can seem minor. This depends partially on what you’ve been through before in your farming career, as well as the level to which the challenge is impacting your operation.

Think it through

The other factor that matters in whether certain challenges seem big or small is how you’ve prepared – or not prepared – for them. It’s absolutely true that you can’t plan or prepare for every single challenge your operation might encounter during a given crop year. But you can think ahead about some of the likely challenges.

You can also think about the times when you’ll need to make major decisions and what types of challenges could impact those decisions. Here are three tips to build a strong set of skills to respond to challenges as they’re happening.

Three tips

  1. Know your operation’s current situation inside and out. Part of your response to challenges depends on how well you know your operation. This means both with regard to production and the business side. Having a strong, frequently updated grasp of both of these can take some work as a leader, but it is time well spent. It gives you a better foundation – from there, you can work to make decisions that are going to be best for your operation, because you know its unique needs. This means having a strong understanding of your farm’s current financial situation and needs, as well as a marketing plan that can respond and adapt to the current market situation and the needs of your operation.

  2. Think thoroughly about some of the scenarios you could encounter. Looking ahead through the crop year to consider potential situations and decision-making points is a smart idea. While you aren’t going to know exactly what your particular challenging scenario is going to look like, you can still think through what you could be running into – as well as some of the different ways you could respond and address the challenge.

  3. Build a positive, resilient mindset about challenges. No one can control exactly what happens to their farm operation, but what we can control is how we choose to respond to what happens to us and to our business. Practicing resilience in the minor challenges we encounter each day as human beings is a good opportunity to build such a mindset. Then we can call upon that mindset when we really need to dig deep to face a major challenge in our operation.

Related:Where is the farm leader’s time worth the most?

One aspect of farming that often brings several major challenges – throughout the crop year – is how to deal with the markets. You can get started on a proactive marketing plan for your operation by getting in touch with our market advisors.

Related:Where is the farm leader’s time worth the most?

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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