Relationships more important than ever in 2015

Farm Forum

A few weeks ago I had looked at some breakevens on corn and soybeans for 2015 and unfortunately they did not look very good. I wrote an article addressed to landlords to consider dropping rent to help things cashflow a little better. This suggestion was praised by many farmers, but created a fair amount of … let’s say feedback for me from landlords. Some suggested that the farmers were the ones to blame for the increase in rent and some said why should they go down on rent when the seed companies, equipment companies, etc. will not be lowering their prices. I see merit with both and can’t disagree with either argument.

My message was not directed to all landlords, but rather those who have lost sight of what farming is, not just a business, but a relationship business. As commodity prices have dropped considerably from the past few years, my hope is that the retired farmer, turned landlord, would remember the tough times they had as a producer and remember that there was likely a mom and dad, an uncle, or a neighbor who helped them out. I am quite confident that these landlords will work with their tenants and consider maintaining or lowering rent for next year, if necessary, because they have built a relationship with their tenant.

Now there are some relationships that are simply business arrangements, a landlord who is merely an investor owner who is looking for the tenant who will give them the highest return on their land. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with this, but this is the audience that I am hoping will consider making a change for next year if they have a good relationship with their tenant. As a former ag banker and current Farm Management Instructor, I know as well as anyone that farming is a business, but I would hope that it could continue to be (or return to being) a relationship business.

By relationship business, I mean that hopefully there is a healthy respect and trust between a farmer and all of their business partners. These partners include: family, neighbors, landlords, hired help, machinery dealers, agronomy salesmen, fuel man, feed rep, banker, accountant, marketer, insurance agent and the many other people that you do business with on a regular basis. These relationships need to be built on trust and respect which is earned by a history of acting with honesty and integrity in your business dealings. If the farmer treats the landlord fairly when times are good, they will likely return the favor when times are tough.

In the farm management program at Mitchell Technical Institute, our instructors are a trusted partner for over 150 producers across South Dakota. We help farmers and ranchers with all aspects of managing their operation from record keeping to decision making. If you would like to begin a relationship with one of our instructors, please feel free to contact us at 995-7196 or