Farm Progress

Consider what’s worth preserving for the future – and make a plan.

Darren Frye, CEO

June 22, 2017

3 Min Read
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As you think about what matters most to you about your farm and farming, what comes to mind first? It might be the history and legacy you’re carrying on through continuing your family’s tradition of farming. It could be the values you use in decision-making and in running your operation each day.

People probably also come to mind – both those who taught you how to farm, as well as those you hope will carry on the farm and family legacy in the future. Maybe you appreciate the lifestyle that farming allows you and your family to have, with the freedoms and opportunities it brings for more enjoyment in your life.

Carrying it on
Considering what you value most – what holds the most worth for you about farming and your life as a farmer – can be a good way to start thinking about what you can do now to ensure that those valuable aspects will continue on. Your legacy is made during your farming career, and lives on, in those you select to lead the farm in the future.

Questions of value and worth tend to hold a lot of meaning for those of us in farming. It usually isn’t all that difficult for us to identify what we value most, but deciding what we need to do next in order to protect and preserve those valuable aspects into the future often takes a bigger leap – and a lot of thought and commitment.

When the farm’s current leaders have identified what they value most and believe is worth passing on to the next generation, they then have a choice to make. Do we take action to make sure our operation will move smoothly into the future – or just hope things work out and the farm continues to make enough money to keep operating?

Getting a plan
If you truly value and care for your operation and the people in it, I believe you’ll choose to take action to build a more solid farm – one that’s run as a business with the future in mind. That means a full financial analysis of your operation, to get a clear picture of the current status of the numbers and what they mean.

It also means taking time to work on detailed business plans for the farm operation and any other side businesses that are included. The major stakeholders of the farm should all take part in this planning process together. The plan needs to stake out the goals for the future of the operation. Everyone needs to know and understand why those particular goals are the priority and what achieving them will mean for the farm.

These business plans should also include how it will all happen – how the farm is going to reach each goal. It includes the who, what, when, where and how of the way that goal will be accomplished, including timelines for completion. It may be helpful to have an ‘outsider’ – a non-family, third party advisor – to guide the planning process and provide perspective throughout.

When you value your operation strongly and want to see it thrive into the future, it’s wise to create plans for how it’s all going to happen. Otherwise, you’re left only with the hope that things will work out in your favor. To get the planning process started, get in touch with our advisors to talk about what you value about your farm and the unique challenges your operation is facing.

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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