Measuring financial performance starts with budgeting

Analyzing and managing financial performance can be both simple and complex, depending on what you’re trying to understand about it. In it’s most simple terms, financial performance can be defined as sustained positive cash flow. Positive cash flow comes from the profit being generated by the farm business, and that’s where the complexity comes in. […] Read more

Gross margin efficiency benchmarks are important tool

Financial ratios can be useful tools to analyze farm business performance. A great example of this is gross margin efficiency. Expressed as a ratio, gross margin efficiency measures how efficiently a farm uses specific, productive inputs. To demonstrate, the calculation looks like this: gross margin divided by gross revenue equals gross margin ratio. Gross margin […] Read more

Make sure you are getting the best use out of your time

Here’s somewhat of a rhetorical question: what are you doing right now? And then a follow-on question: what should you be doing right now? The second question warrants some discussion. A farm business requires a considerable investment in capital — assets such as land, buildings, equipment, livestock and quota. However, an investment is also required […] Read more


Less gross revenue being generated from capital assets

I recently made a presentation on financial benchmarking at Farm Management Canada’s Agricultural Excellence conference in Ottawa. I looked at data that we capture in our EAGLE farm business management software program. The program analyzes the financial performance of individual farms and aggregates the data from participating farms. Individual farms can compare their performance to […] Read more

Farm families need to define goals and outline a business strategy and structure to meet them.  |  FIle photo

Desired future, reality must align

There are two futures for farms and farm families. One is the future that is defined by what will happen, simply as a matter of course, year by year. The other is the future that is defined by what farm families set out to purposefully work to accomplish. One isn’t necessarily any better than the […] Read more


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