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

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

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


Restructuring debt one option to address cash flow issue

For some farmers, as Yogi Berra put it, “it feels like déjà vu all over again.” It wasn’t that many years ago when farms were often required to manage with little or no working capital. I’m talking about liquidity issues, more commonly expressed as cash flow problems. There can be several reasons why this happens […] Read more

Young farmers can ease the transition to farm ownership by being properly prepared.  |  File photo

Are you the next generation? Preparing to take the torch

Have you been identified as the next owner and/or manager of all or part of your family farm? If not, do you expect to be? Do you have any idea at all? There is a broad spectrum of answers to these questions, depending on the farm family and situation. However, you need to ask yourself […] Read more