Farm Progress

The efficiency-minded farm leader

Time to get creative – to build in more efficiency.

Darren Frye, CEO

August 15, 2017

3 Min Read

In leading your farm, you have certain goals that you want to achieve – in terms of growth, the transition of the operation into the future, or any other goals you have. And as you moved into the role of leading the farm – whether that happened gradually over time or very suddenly – you had to start thinking in different ways.

Suddenly, it wasn’t just about planning for next year’s crop (though of course that was still important) but also about thinking further into the future. It meant a broader focus, taking into consideration what’s going on in the whole country and even the world, and then thinking about how those things might impact your particular farm operation.

It meant thinking about things like employees and family dynamics and the business relationships that make the farm run. It’s about planning for a brighter future, starting with how the farm can improve and get better – right now.

Making the difference

In the current ag operating environment, growth in terms of acres may not necessarily be a desirable or achievable goal. Many farm CEOs are focusing on becoming more efficient, in every area of their farm business.

They’re choosing to hone in on different areas of the operation – perhaps one at a time. They’re asking how they could become more efficient, maybe even by a small amount, yet make a big difference for their operation.

The key here is to identify the areas of the farm that could benefit most from gains in efficiency. Aspects like becoming more efficient with seed, chemical and fertilizer likely come to mind. These are certainly good areas to start with, to investigate how efficient you are and where you might improve.

Consider reviewing this with someone from outside of your operation who is familiar with ag and with your overall operation. As a third party, they may be able to look at your farm’s situation more neutrally, and provide a different perspective.

Getting it done

Other areas of your business might not necessarily come to mind right away, but could also bring major benefits in efficiency. Start thinking about aspects such as the processes and procedures that are used to get things done on your farm.

It might be something like how you’re approaching taking care of the farm’s books – is the person who keeps the books the best and most naturally suited to do that? It could be around how you’re handling landlord relations and keeping in touch with them. Your farm’s insurance is worth a look, too – have a farm insurance audit done to find out whether you’re covered correctly and efficiently.

There are many different areas on the farm that can potentially see improvement from increased efficiency. It might require some thought and creativity, but today’s farm leaders are up to the challenge.

Here's three things to think about:

  1. How can you become more ‘efficiency-minded’ as a farm leader?

  2. What two or three areas in your operation can you identify to make some efficiency improvements?

  3. What actions will you take to achieve those improvements? Who will you enlist to help make the changes? Who will help hold you accountable to your plans?

Learn more: Read the new summer issue of our Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue includes perspectives on how to develop your replacement as a leader, building an employee base full of team players, key ratios for leaders to watch, and more.

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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