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Farm problem-solving: Love it or hate it?Farm problem-solving: Love it or hate it?

Having a process and outside feedback is essential.

Darren Frye

October 30, 2023

3 Min Read
Farm management is different every year depending on the problems that arise. Getty Images

Dealing with problems and challenges on the farm: No one really likes to handle them, but it’s certainly part of the job when you’re the farm’s leader. And as the leader, you’re likely the main person everyone else looks to when it comes to some of the biggest challenges or problems that are impacting the farm.

Some farm leaders may enjoy this aspect of the role and tend to see the opportunity inside of the problem or challenge. Some may like the way it feels to approach a problem, figure out what’s going on, and create potential solutions.

Others may not be as naturally drawn to the process of problem-solving, but every farm leader out there will probably say they’ve had to work to learn the best methods for approaching the toughest challenges in their own operation.

Approaching it

Problem-solving for the farm’s various business, production and operational challenges can feel like it involves a great deal of trial and error. And because every crop year – and the operating environment – is different, it’s often the case that solutions that may have worked in the past or in a different situation simply won’t work in the new scenario.

So what’s a farm leader to do? Whether you’re naturally drawn to solving problems in your operation or it’s something that you’d typically rather not deal with, it can benefit the success of your operation and help everyone involved if you have some sort of process to use as you go about problem-solving.

This way, even if the challenge is completely unique and new for your operation, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel of how you go about looking at the problem and deciding what to do.

Consider getting a problem-solving process in place – that both you and others in your operation who are responsible for certain areas or aspects of the farm can use.

Seeking input

One aspect of problem-solving to consider adding into your process is the type of outside feedback or perspective you and others on your farm seek when working through a challenge. You can ask: Whose opinion do I currently view as important when it comes to challenges on my farm? What feedback or input do I seek out – and from who?

When it comes to getting perspective and input on your farm’s biggest challenges, the source matters. The opinion of the neighbor down the road might be important – or it might not – but their own operation is likely very different than yours in certain ways. And the opinion or feedback of someone who doesn’t know your operation well – the business structure, your business and financial goals, etc – may not be the most relevant.

Consider working with a third-party advisor for your operation who specializes in agriculture and works to get to know your operation and goals in a deep way. They can act as a sounding board for feedback and input as you work through your farm’s toughest challenges.

Also, their “outsider” perspective can be helpful as they may be able to help you walk through your farm’s problem or challenge using a different viewpoint. They should have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the ag world and be able to help you work out creative solutions that ultimately benefit your farm and help create the success you want.

How are you navigating this market?

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 www.waterstreetag.com.

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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