The Saskatchewan Bison Association’s benchmarking study now has a good base of data that producers can use to see how their operations measure up.
Agricultural economist Sandy Russell defined benchmarking as the process of comparing one’s financial and performance measurements to industry bests or best practices from other companies.
Producers can use the benchmarks to assess their competitiveness, efficiency and productivity, she told the annual Canadian Bison Association conference in Regina.
The SBA began compiling the data several years ago to establish the benchmarks, and Russell last week presented the 2015 numbers, noting that in many cases five-year averages are now available.
“You’re just now scraping the surface of what that analysis can do,” she said.
“Once it hits five years, you really can get into some strong management analysis.”
She encouraged producers to compare their numbers to the industry data but to be cautious because there are large ranges in some of the measurements.
“Don’t let the overwhelming factor of pulling out the shoebox stop you from taking that first step,” she said. “It does get easier. Start with taking a snapshot today.”
Key production measures in-clude the number of cows, number of calves and fertility measures. Key economic measurements are feed and operation costs.
Russell said enterprise analysis is a critical part of the process.
Producers should begin by looking at their operations from different perspectives and asking themselves what else they could be doing. For example, could a person be working off the farm or in a different enterprise on the farm if they weren’t doing what they’re doing now.
Producers should divide their businesses into profit centres and identify which is the most or least profitable, recognizing that not all divisions exist solely for profit.
“Understand your costs and how you’re going to allocate them,” she said.
The information that can be gleaned from analysis is useful to individual operations and industries, she said.
It can help develop industry policy and promotion, measure the health of an industry, act as a re-source for new entrants and set industry targets.
Producers can’t manage what they can’t measure, she said.
“If you aren’t benchmarking, you aren’t capitalizing on your individual values,” Russell said.
“The longer you participate, the more value you get.”