What Are Your Farm Filters?

Putting ideas through the ‘filter’ first can mean better decisions

On the farm, we use plenty of filters – think of all the engine filters in your equipment. Having the right filters in place ensure that impurities will be filtered out of the oil before it reaches the engine.

That filter helps keep the pistons moving smoothly, without friction, and ultimately, prevents damage to your engine. With the right filters in place, your equipment continues to function properly and doesn’t constantly break down or have to be replaced.

Here’s another type of filter you need in place on your farm. I think of it as an ‘overall’ farm filter. As the head of the farming operation, you probably have a vision of where you want your farm to be in the future. To reach that vision, you need to have some set criteria or ‘filters’ in place for decision-making. Using those filters can help you work toward your goals.

You can set up a series of ‘farm filters’ to pass all major decisions through for the operation. That could include some financial filters related to the financial goals and metrics for your operation, some filters related to goals you have around the growth of your operation, and filters having to do with relationships – like relationships with your landlords and lender.

A ‘farm filter’ at work

For example, let’s say a farm operation has a goal of being debt-free within seven years. That financial goal becomes one of the filters for decisions in that operation. At the end of the year, the operation was facing a tax burden. Some of the farm leaders brought up the possibility of whether a piece of equipment should be purchased for that reason.

The farm ran the decision through its ‘filters,’ including the goal of being debt-free in seven years. They realized that their overall financial goals would be negatively affected if they went with the equipment purchase.

They also determined that they didn’t necessarily require that particular piece of equipment for operations right now anyway. Ultimately, they chose not to buy the piece of equipment at this time. Going through the filter led to a better decision – one with more positive long-term effects.

There’s a reason a fuel plant is called a refinery – the fuel goes through a process to become more and more pure. It’s like putting an idea through your farm filters – the decision becomes more pure and refined, until anything that ultimately makes it all the way through has been judged to be the best possible decision in those circumstances.

Without putting a decision through tough filters, you might end up feeling like you don’t have a clear sense of what to do. Then it gets shelved in the ‘maybe’ category – or you take action and realize later that you shouldn’t have.

If a potential decision doesn’t make it through your set of farm filters, you probably identified some reason or reasons that it’s not in line with your overall goals and direction right now. The net result? The more you filter a decision through, the more in line the final choice will be with where your operation is heading.

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