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Leaders: Consider farm’s needs in these two areas.

Darren Frye, CEO

January 23, 2023

3 Min Read
Rural sunset on gravel road with farm.
Getty Images/hauged

When you think about what farming might be like in the future, what do you picture? First think far ahead – 20 or even 50 years. Will it look like what it does today? Looking that far ahead, it could be very tough to predict exactly what farming will look like for those future generations of farmers.

But what about a bit shorter time frame than that – let’s say, 10 or 15 years? What will farming be like then? And what would you like your operation to be like at that point?

Your answers here likely depend quite a bit on where you’re at in your own farming career. Maybe you’ve just started out or have been leading the operation now for a few years. Or maybe you’re getting to a point where you’re considering when you may want to retire or just step back from the operation a little more often.

Plan it out

There are two main aspects that you can start thinking about when it comes to what you want your operation to be like in the future. Considering the answers can help you make plans now for what you need to prioritize in this calendar year and in a longer-term plan for your operation.

It can also help when it comes to making plans about who is going to be involved in the operation – both from a family member standpoint, as well as what you may need in terms of employees. This can make for better, more strategic planning around things like potential expansion and large asset purchases, as well as labor needs.

Two questions

  1. What will the farm need – from a ‘hard assets’ perspective? Knowing what the long-term goals for the farm are makes it possible to begin putting plans in place for asset replacement and any necessary additional purchases. Once you have a clear handle on the future direction of the operation, you can start creating a five-year plan for equipment replacement, building and bin needs, semis, and for other large physical assets. Having a revolving plan (that you can always adjust and tweak as time goes on) can be helpful because you can plan to allocate your farm’s capital toward certain purchases within particular time frames. This can help keep your farm on-track toward future goals.

  2. What will the farm need – from a leadership and ‘people’ perspective? Part of the job of the farm’s leader is to work on themselves in terms of increasing their own leadership capabilities, skills, and assets. One way to think about what to prioritize in your own skills is to consider what farming will require of leaders in the future, and to work on those capabilities. Investing in yourself and building your own leadership and management qualities will only serve your operation further. The farm leader is also responsible to think about what the farm will need in terms of the people involved – so everything from who the farm’s future leader will be (and creating plans to train them for that role) to what level of labor needs the farm will require in any given season. Planning for human resources on the farm takes quite a bit of foresight, with an eye to the farm’s ultimate future goals.

2023 markets

Have you started your market planning and target-setting for 2023? Now is the right time to be creating marketing plans for this year and beyond. A market advisor can help with providing education, marketing tools, and market planning for your unique operation and your future goals.

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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