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Be intentional with your communication this winter

Think about what others need to hear from the farm’s leader.

Darren Frye, CEO

February 6, 2023

3 Min Read
Bernard Lang/Getty Images

As farm leaders know, you can wear any number of different hats in a given day of leading your operation. One element that crosses the span of responsibilities of the farm leader is the need to communicate effectively with others – a variety of different people – to achieve the tasks and goals of the operation each day.

When you think about communication, what first comes to mind? For many people, it’s something along the lines of how difficult it can be at times. Often, something can seem to get “lost in translation” even when we’re already speaking the same language!

What are they hearing?

Sometimes when we’re talking with someone else, it can start to feel like we know what we said to them, but we have no idea what they “heard” from us. I mean “heard” in the sense of what they interpreted or gathered from what we said, not whether they physically heard us or not.

That’s where communication can start to feel like it’s breaking down. And since farm leaders need to be able to communicate well with a variety of people – think employees, family members, lenders, suppliers, vendors, and advisors – communication can feel like a full-time job.

If we think communication is challenging or not necessarily our number one priority, having a tough conversation with someone or meeting with a landlord can often get pushed off – or potentially ignored altogether.

The right stuff

This winter, the key for top farm leaders will be to prioritize the right conversations and communication with the right people. This starts with knowing your farm goals and being able to articulate them.

Next, it’s about knowing the different groups of people who can help your farm achieve the goals, and thinking about what each of those groups need to hear from you to help them understand where your farm is at today, and what you’re going to do to move it toward your future goals.

Take some time to think about each group separately. The communication you’ll need to have with your employees will likely be rather different than conversations with your lenders and landlords, for example. Their roles in helping your operation achieve success are different, but they all need your help to understand a few key things.

  1. Where is your operation headed? What’s your future vision and how are you going to get the farm there?

  2. What does this group need to know in terms of updates around what you’ve been doing and are working to do in your operation?

  3. What are the main ways that group can partner in helping to achieve the vision and goals?

Schedule and plan meetings this winter with your farm’s key stakeholders. Winter banker meetings are a well-known standard, but also consider scheduling meetings or calls with your landlords, suppliers and advisors to help get everyone on the same page about your farm’s goals, long before spring arrives.

2023 markets

Now is the right time to communicate with your market advisor about 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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