Use ratios and benchmarks to analyze performance

Before getting too far into “next year” thinking, it’s important to look at how you did financially in 2017. There are many reason why people farm. One of them though, must be to earn profit. Four key questions should be addressed: What profit did the farm earn in 2017? Profit has must be calculated on […] Read more

The little things add up when striving for farm efficiency

I’m going to start by telling a story about my youngest son. I dropped by the place he’s renting a couple of weeks ago. When I got out of the vehicle, I noticed three dimes on the driveway. I picked them up, happy with my discovery. When I met him inside, I mentioned my find. […] Read more

Transition planning: equitable is not the same as equal

Certain issues within the transition planning process might cause difficulties for some families. These challenges are often referred to as the ‘soft’ issues. They can be more difficult to deal with than the ‘hard’ or concrete issues such as taxation. I recently was in a farm family meeting about transitioning ownership and management when a […] Read more


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Feeling stressed? How to cope with the pressures of farming

There are numerous indicators showing that changes are happening in farm business management. Nothing too surprising about that. I experienced one recently when I had the opportunity to facilitate a peer group meeting. There were 12 people: some younger, others seasoned, representing eight farms. The change that I witnessed was the willingness of those at […] Read more

Investment decisions must be based on data, not hope

We go to trade shows across Western Canada throughout the year, and most recently attended Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina. We typically have a booth at the shows and look to talk to farmers and farm families about the opportunities, successes and challenges they experience in managing their businesses. It can be tricky to […] Read more


Farm business decisions a continuum of priorities

Determining if your farm made money would be easier if you produced just one product. With just one product, say canola or broiler chickens, the total of the sales for the year minus the expenses would be the profit. However, most farmers have multiple enterprises — crops, livestock and sidelines — that all contribute revenue. […] Read more

Mixing family and farm business can be tricky

Family can be a wonderful thing. When I ask farm families to list what they value most, “family” usually makes the top three, if not the top. However, mixing family and business can be tricky. It can be a strength and a weakness. The strength is the support family can give individuals and the business […] Read more

Managing working capital key to successful operation

Cash is King, as the saying goes, and it is certainly true in farming. Working capital is the “cash” a farm has to finance its operations. It is usually thought of in terms of being the amount of money that the farm has available to finance operations for the next year. The calculation is, working […] Read more


Downsizing rarely desirable, but plan can improve outcome

There are farm management challenges that are just plain difficult to work through successfully. The challenges can be complex and involve several areas of management. One of the most difficult things I do in helping farm families pertains to downsizing. It is not that difficult on the face of it: give up rented land, sell […] Read more

Wills and succession plans are part of today’s mainstream farm management that should not be delayed. |  File photo

An up-to-date will is important in succession planning

Procastination, preparation and planning: that was the title of the afternoon seminar on succession planning I just attended. The event, hosted by Manitoba Canola Growers, was well attended, but then there usually is pretty good attendance at an event focused on succession. There are lots of things that farm families have to think about and […] Read more