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

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

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