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Every successful farm needs team of expertsEvery successful farm needs team of experts

Experts can help you with the many responsibilities outside of managing crops and livestock on a farm.

September 27, 2023

5 Min Read
Farmer and financial adviser talking in animal farm
TEAMWORK: Having a team of trusted experts on your side will help alleviate stress and contribute to the success of a farm operation. fatihhoca/Getty Images

by Courtney Ross

From keeping track of your financials, to writing up purchase agreements and making decisions about the future of your operation, there are many responsibilities outside of managing crops and livestock on a farm.

Having a team of trusted experts on your side will help alleviate stress and contribute to the success of a farm operation. Here are some people who should be part of your team:

Loan officer. Meeting your capital needs of the day-to-day operations, equipment, structures and real estate purchases, you may need to explore financing options. Having a loan officer who specializes in agriculture and can understand your operation is a contact you need in your phone.

A loan officer can help with structuring loans you may need that best fit your operation.

You should have regular contact with your loan officer, even in times you don’t need financing, to keep them involved in the direction your operation is growing. This will keep them in the loop on future financing opportunities and equip them with the information and knowledge to be able to assist when the need arises.  

GreenStone’s team of financial services officers understand the unique needs of agriculture and are experienced in helping to find options to fulfill the financial needs of farming operations and rural communities.

Accountant. It’s important to have an accountant to help keep accurate business records that other members of your farm team will need, such as your loan officer. Having an accountant helps you focus on your day-to-day operations and lessens some of the stress record-keeping can carry.

Your accountant can help keep your books up to date with all the expenses and incoming capital, along with end-of-year financial reports and tax planning.

How often you should speak to your accountant varies. The more you keep up on your books, the easier it’ll be to provide your year-end financials to your lender and be aware of your financial situation throughout the year. Even having someone keep up with your operation’s financials once a month makes it easier at the end of the year, so you’re not stuck with a shoebox full of receipts.

Attorney. An attorney is there to assist you in writing purchase or rental agreements for your operation. Their expertise also extends into helping you work through a succession plan and can provide legal guidance and assistance for that transition and other business decisions.

You should reach out to your attorney any time a legal binding document or agreement needs to be made, and when you’re evaluating operational decisions and farm transition plans.

Agronomist. Preparation for the growing season can be a long process. An agronomist specializes in crop production, soil control and management. Having regular soil testing done to help determine fertilizer needs will improve and maximize crop production. Having someone on your team with expertise to assist with crop scouting and consult on chemical and fertilizer application options can also help improve yields. 

You should check in with your agronomist before, during and after your growing season so they can test your soil, discuss the growing season, and provide recommendations for any applications or adjustments that need to be made.

Nutritionist and veterinarian. If you are a dairy or livestock farmer, you know the importance of having a nutritionist and veterinarian on your team.

A nutritionist can assist in monitoring your animals and how they’re reacting to certain feed types and make necessary adjustments if needed. Being present when your nutritionist is on the farm can help develop the relationship with them, so that they are a trusted adviser you can call on to keep you abreast of new ideas and products.

Veterinarians not only help with herd health and reproduction decisions, but they can also be an asset to have on the farm regularly to provide additional industry information.

You will typically meet or speak with a nutritionist and veterinarian weekly to monthly depending on your operation. 

Business consultant. When you decide it’s time to expand or change something about your operation, you want a business consultant in your corner to help you make those decisions. Business consultants can run through scenarios for your farm that other people on your team may not be able to.

Additionally, if you’re selling your crops, meat or value-added products directly to customers, business consultants may be able to assist you with marketing.

You should contact your business consultant when you see opportunities for growth in your operation, or when you have a question about how to best advertise your products.

Network of mentors and peers. A member of your farm team that may be overlooked is a mentor or peers who have been in the business for a while. Having a network of people you can approach with questions and call on their experience to learn from or gather ideas from can be helpful.

GreenStone offers a mentorship match through its CultivateGrowth program for young, beginning and small farmers.

You should speak with your mentor frequently, especially when you have questions about your operations that they may be able to help with. Connecting through visiting each other’s farms can be insightful for both parties.

Look for peers that are also at the same stage you are in your farm journey. This is an opportunity to lean on one another and share new ideas that could help take your farm to the next level.

Having regular farm meetings with all members of your team of experts can help ensure that everyone understands the position and goals of your operation. 

Ross is a financial services officer at GreenStone Farm Credit Services based in East Lansing, Mich.

Source: GreenStone Farm Credit Services

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