When is it time to go in a different direction?

Farm families should keep three things in alignment when managing the business: business direction, financial performance and management structure. This is nothing new because these functions have affected farms for decades. What is new is the importance of more proactively understanding them and monitoring their alignment as the farm moves through its business and personal […] Read more

Some employees do what the boss tells them, while others, who feel they are part of a team, do what their leader tells them.  |  File photo

Employees will tell you if you are a leader or a boss

This past year wasn’t an easy one for a lot of reasons. That’s the common theme in talking to farmers. Sure, some areas fared better than others, but many dealt with a long and drawn out harvest. The fact that there is still crop that hasn’t been harvested sums it up. A farm I had […] Read more

Analyzing margins of net profit can be eye-opening

There’s a saying that you can’t go broke making a profit. True enough — or is it? My September column looked at averages of financial performance. How many years out of 10 would you consider to be “winners” and how many would be “losers?” The remaining years are in the grey zone: not so good […] Read more

Restructuring debt for cash flow

Farming can be frustrating and at times unforgiving, especially when dealing with unfavourable weather. It becomes worse when the adverse weather, like too much rain during harvest, goes on and on. With higher input costs and lower commodity prices, it doesn’t take long before yield and quality loss begin to affect financial performance. Cash flow […] Read more

Determining past performance helps with future planning

When assessing plans for the future of your farm, it often helps to test them against past performance. Would a change in operation enhance your average performance? But what is average? A major league baseball player with a .300 or better batting average is considered to be achieving superior hitting performance. That’s a successful at-bat […] Read more

Cost of production analysis key factor in management

I observe how farm management is evolving over time. It’s a relatively slow but constant process, affected at times by the strength of farming economy. In my opinion, the changes are for the better because the changes have resulted in improved farm business management. Farm Management Canada and the Agri-food Management Institute recently published results […] Read more

Good record keeping tells where you’re at, where you’re going

I’ve enjoyed some really interesting farm visits in the past couple of weeks, both crop “inspections” and a visit to a dairy. It is easy to see and sense the pride farmers have in growing their crops or looking after their animals. Inevitably, however, we find our way back to the house or the office […] Read more

Farm management survey results and observations

We recently asked farmers who stopped by our booth at Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina to answer a short survey, which included questions about farm management. Key observations from the survey results include: Almost 80 percent indicated that they struggle to attract and retain employees. Sixty-one percent said that they are worried about their […] Read more

Taking stock: where are you financially at mid-year?

I was recently talking to a farmer who had just finished seeding. The lion’s share of the investment in growing a crop had been made, and some of the urgency was gone. As a result, it was time to focus on the things that were taking up space on the “corner of the desk,” such […] Read more

Greater financial efficiency increases available cash flow

Many experts believe our weather is becoming more volatile. This appears to be borne out by recent weather events and commodity price fluctuations. A common management principle is to obtain an acceptable return on the investment made in a business. The definition of investment could be narrow, limited to the capital tied up on land, […] Read more