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What’s on the horizon for your farm?What’s on the horizon for your farm?

Being aware of major decisions coming up is the first step to making wise choices.

Darren Frye

June 28, 2017

3 Min Read

One of the best things we can do for our farm is to look ahead – to the future. I don’t mean trying to gaze into a crystal ball or predict exactly what’s going to happen – no human can know what’s going to happen in the days to come.

I believe some of the best farmers today are thinking ahead regularly. They’re looking at major upcoming decisions for their operation. They’re considering where they want their operation to go and what they want their farm to be like in 20 years.

As the CEO of their farm, creating that future vision for the operation is part of their responsibilities of being the farm’s leader. One of the advantages of having a vision of what they want things to be like is that they have something to measure decisions – both large and small – against. They can think about their broader goals when decisions come up – like whether to rent or buy a piece of ground or to purchase a new piece of equipment.

Time and intention
It’s important to be committed to thinking about the future and being intentional about guiding the farm toward what you and the other leaders want it to become. Otherwise, it could become something very different than you intended – or even get into a place where financial issues make it unlikely to survive.

Another benefit of thinking about what’s coming up for your operation is time. Knowing in advance that a major decision is on the way gives you the opportunity to get the information and perspectives you need. Then, you can make the best decision in light of the direction you see your operation going.

You have the chance to do any necessary research and ask the opinions of others you respect and trust. In the end, you’re the decision-maker, but having those pieces in place helps with that process.

Getting ready for good choices
Farmers often like to have someone else as a ‘sounding board’ – someone immersed in the ag world but perhaps not necessarily part of their own operation. Sometimes this could be a trusted lender or other ag financial advisor. Maybe that’s in addition to a family member who is or isn’t involved in the operation.

Being able to get the advice and opinion of another person can be very valuable. They may look at the world slightly different than we do, or have access to information or experience we want to consider when making decisions. In any case, it can be wise to have a ‘gut check’ moment before making a big decision. Otherwise we can be led away by our own emotions and fail to consider important factors.

On the other hand, we need to be able to make decisions – and stand by them – when necessary. There can be a danger in seeking too many opinions and so much information – it can lead us to become paralyzed in our decision-making. The practice of making and standing by our decisions isn’t always easy, but having the right information and perspectives can help.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in making major decisions for your operation? Get in touch with our advisors to talk about some ways to approach those obstacles.

Read the new summer issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue includes perspectives on how to make your farm business more competitive, financial best practices, key ratios for leaders to watch, and more. 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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