Along the Fencerow

A few months ago I attended an agriculture conference titled “Farmers Divided.”

Philosophically, farmers in general don’t agree on the direction agriculture is heading or in the role the government should take in agriculture. Change is constant.

Some farmers embrace the change and take on the challenge through careful planning to achieve business goals as well as personal goals. Other farmers become frustrated and struggle to find direction and a path for success.

Many factors lead a person into a particular business. Production agriculture is no different. Economic factors over the long run are an important consideration for farm operations.

To get from point A to point B, one question that I would ask all farmers and business owners is: How many have a written business plan?

My hope is 100 percent do. A guess would be that only 5 to 10 percent of all farmers in the area have a written business plan.

Developing a sound business plan is a dynamic process to prepare an agricultural business for the future. To keep it simple, the planning process helps to accomplish the following things:

identify goals. What do you want to accomplish?

identify and inventory resources. What do you have to work with?

analyze performance. How have you done in the past?

Assess the environment and the potential, What might you do in the future?

decide on actions. What will you do now?

implement strategies. How will you do it?

evaluate the plan. Is it working?

Usually “the plan” is developed on a farm because a big event triggered the process. Examples might include a change in enterprise selection, ownership or management transition, financial stress brought on by outside market or environmental factors, or the sudden death of a family member.

During the past few years, financial stress has increased among a broad group of producers due to weather and market conditions. Because of the current agriculture business climate, we may see more business plans being developed by farmers who traditionally don’t have one.

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