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Farm’s next leaders: Ready or not for marketing decisions?Farm’s next leaders: Ready or not for marketing decisions?

How do you know when they’re prepared to call the shots?

Darren Frye

February 25, 2019

3 Min Read

Whether a farm operation is large or small, with a lot of different moving pieces or not, with multiple leaders or a single leader, there’s one thing that all farm leaders need to keep in mind when it comes to grain marketing decisions: the future. I’m thinking of two main ways the future comes into play.

First, leaders have to consider the implications of the decisions they are making in terms of the future of the operation. In order to do that well, they need to know where they want the operation to be heading, and how it’s going to get to that desired place. Then they can make decisions that resonate best with the desired future.

Who’s next?

The other way the future must be kept in mind is with regard to the farm’s future leadership. Who will be making grain marketing decisions in the future? Who are we hoping to have do that?

Here are four questions to consider:

  • Do they already know they will be dealing with marketing decisions?

  • What will qualify them to make those decisions?

  • What kind of training will they have in the meantime to prepare?

  • How are they working independently to prepare and educate themselves?

One idea is to start involving future leaders now in the current leadership’s decision-making process. Let them see exactly how you think through marketing decisions. What type of information do you use? How do you analyze the decision? What tools do you use? What opinions or information do you seek out from advisors or others?

Shadow the leader

Have your future leader shadow you through big decisions. After they’ve done this with you for a while, you can stop at particular points of the process and ask them what they think or what they would do next. When it’s time to actually make a decision, ask them what they would choose to do.

Maybe they would choose to do something different than you are planning to, but that’s all right. Walk through the decision with them to understand their reasoning for going that particular way – maybe it will even help inform or influence your final decision in some way.

Eventually, you can carve out a way for them to have sole responsibility for making some marketing decisions. Maybe it’s a certain amount of grain they’re responsible to market. Or maybe they’re tasked with making all decisions for a certain number of acres. Whatever it is, make sure they have the opportunity to truly make the final decision – without necessarily getting “bailed out” by current leadership.

Proactive learning

The next leaders need to prepare themselves now to make marketing decisions in a rapidly-changing world. They need to be educating themselves and seeking education especially in basic financial literacy, grain marketing tools, as well as other management hats they’ll be wearing. You need to see and know that they have a plan. If they aren’t doing that yet – let them know they need to be proactive about it now.

Our advisors bring grain marketing education and help with plans for the farm’s current leaders, as well as helping educate and bring the farm’s next leaders into the marketing decision-making process. Get in touch with our advisors today to start a tailored plan.

 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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