Farm Progress

Sometimes it’s a matter of looking at challenges differently.

Darren Frye, CEO

January 17, 2017

3 Min Read
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/ThinkstockPhoto

As a farm leader, you’re the one to set direction for your farm operation and plan for the future. Looking toward the upcoming year, things might seem more uncertain than usual. A lot has changed in the past few years – it’s a different operating environment than what many had become used to.

Farming in these times certainly requires more perseverance and belief, doesn’t it? Farm leaders are working to understand their options carefully, in order to make the best, most logical decisions. For a commodity business, it all comes back to the margins game.

But even though the business of farming requires thought and commitment, it’s also about the joy and enjoyment we have in doing what we were meant to do, getting to experience the farming life to the fullest. It’s good to bring that energy, joy and fun to our work, even though it may not always feel like fun and games.

That energy, combined with the commitment to make smart, thoughtful decisions in the upcoming year will serve a farm leader well. Another key to making the most of farming in 2017 will be seeking out new opportunities to help your farm succeed – whether that means new side business opportunities, assets, relationships or a new way to do something more efficiently.

Opportunity radar
Some people are more naturally inclined to notice and seek out opportunities than others. It’s like they have an inner radar for opportunity that lights up when they spot one. But often it’s a matter of keeping an open mind as you consider your farm’s goals and how to reach them. It can mean looking at the challenges you’re facing differently.

New opportunities are often found in areas where we’re not necessarily expecting them. Maybe we’ve always done something in a certain way on the farm. We might not be particularly thinking about changing that process. But when we learn about something new that might help our operation, it can be worth a look.

One area to be on the lookout for new opportunities is around financial management. Are there any new processes that would make the farm more efficient, saving time? What can you do to save on inputs? How are you staying up to date on your farm’s key numbers – your financial dashboard – so you can make the most informed decisions?

More places to check
Consider new opportunities for your crop insurance plan and strategy. There are new insurance products, both private and subsidized, that have recently become available. Many of these new products make coverage available for aspects of the farm that haven’t been covered by traditional crop insurance.

This can be especially worth looking into if you have specialty crops or livestock. You’ll want to gain an understanding of the options by working with an ag risk advisor.

Other areas to keep on your radar are new opportunities to invest – that are right for your farm. As I’ve mentioned before, you want to make sure it’s right for your operation overall, not just based on a good gut feeling. Depending on your farm’s needs and goals, this might mean keeping an eye on nearby land, machinery deals or other ways to help your farm get what it needs.

Relationships are often another area of opportunity. The right relationship can sometimes lead to the chance to hire a key employee, work with an advisor who keeps your farm’s best interests at the forefront or be the first to hear about some of the other opportunities I mentioned above.

Which areas of opportunity will you be keeping in mind this year? Continue to work on building a mindset of joy combined with perseverance as your operation moves forward in 2017.

Read the new winter issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue features tips on harnessing the power of your farm’s numbers, how to set up an employee strategy, and ideas on shielding your farm from unexpected events. Get your free online issue here.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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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