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


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