Seven practices to improve a farm’s financials

Farm Management Canada discovered practices after surveying producers across the country about how they do things

LLOYDMINSTER — A study has determined seven key practices producers can undertake to improve their farms’ financial picture.

The Farm Management Canada research found some of the best practices include life-long learning, making decisions with accurate data, using the help of financial advisers and having a written business plan.

“These are the things that make the difference,” said Heather Watson, executive director of the organization, during her presentation at Agri-Visions in Lloydminster Feb. 13.

She said life-long learning, considered the top practice, includes attending conferences or educational sessions, staying up-to-date on news and connecting with others in the industry.

“Just by being in this room with me here today and with each other, you’re doing the No.1 practice,” she said.

Farm Management Canada conducted the study in 2015, surveying 600 farms across the country.

They weighed business practices with performance, finding that farms did better when they undertook financial planning.

While most farmers take part in life-long learning practices, Watson said, there is room for improvement in other areas.

For instance, she said, only about 25 percent of farms surveyed have a written business plan. A plan that’s followed and reviewed regularly can help producers make improvements and see if they are still on the right track.

“While there is room for improvement, it also means there is immense opportunity,” she said in an interview following her presentation.

“We’ve done well so far, but think of how well we could do if we increase that adoption rate. We know there are financial consequences.”

Having advisers is also helpful, she added.

She said farmers don’t need to be jacks-of-all trades. It’s OK to get help from professionals.

As well, she said, understanding their mental health and the well-being of their family and workers goes a long way.

“People make the world go around. They make your farm happen. We have to look at ourselves and the people involved, ensuring everyone is looked after,” she said.

“Sure, you might be able to buy more land or afford to take on a new venture, but who is part of that future? Are they ready for it? Are you ready? It’s thinking bigger and looking at the larger equation.”

Watson said Farm Management Canada plans to study the potential barriers that might be stopping producers from adopting business practices.

“We know that management pays, but now we want to look further into why they aren’t being adopted, or what barriers there might be that stops them from continuing the practices if they’ve adopted them,” she said.

The organization will also see if the adoption rate has increased, finding ways to keep farmers motivated.

“We want to look at how we can stimulate that follow-through,” she said. “We want to keep them going, keep them supported and also keep them excited about it.”

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