Farm Management Minute: Working with a team

Farm Forum

South Dakota Center of Farm and Ranch Management’s last article, written by David Koupal, discussed ten things to look for in establishing a game plan for agriculture’s tough times. I would like to take the information from that article a little farther. When we talk about a game, there is usually more than one participant, so who would be the team members of the game plan for your operation?

The first people selected would be family members involved in the operation. How do decisions for the upcoming year impact them? If you are giving up family vacations, cutting down on Christmas spending, or any other options I see families look at in tough times to rein in family living, make sure you inform all the involved individuals. By making it a team effort to accomplish a goal, major disappointments can be dealt with. One word of caution on family living-do not cut out all fun activities, keep a few activities that everyone loves.

Second, in the team selection, would be your banker. Keep your banker informed. Ask for their thoughts on your marketing plan, purchasing plan, or any major changes in your operation. Demonstrate to them you are willing to make changes, if necessary, to survive the current economic climate. With many farms showing a negative cash flow, this is a good faith movement so they will, hopefully, keep taking risks with you. Their career is also on the line in this current climate.

Third, in the team selection, is agricultural advisors, whether it is agricultural management and/or crop and livestock specialists. Yes, some of these advisors will come with a fee, but if they assist you in being profitable, it will be worth the money. Anyone that can help the producer keep more accurate records on income and expenses of fields or the full operation is valuable. I saw an article recently that talked about working with veterinarians to establish conditions to keep cattle healthy, instead of just working on getting sick cattle healthy. Crop advisors can look at your soils, crops, and inputs and create a plan that works for your particular operation and goals. These professionals can evaluate your operation without emotional ties.

Fourth, in the team selection, is an optional choice. Stress increases when the farm economy is having tough times. If stress becomes an issue and you see your personality changing, please seek some help. There are many options for stress counseling; the biggest obstacle to overcome is usually our pride. Use professionals such as clergy and mental health counselors. It is better to seek help than lose good relationships with a spouse or other family members.

The South Dakota Center of Farm and Ranch Management can help with record keeping and profitability evaluation. We can be contacted at 1-800-684-1969 ext. 7131 or