Christmas dinner. DGLimages/Thinkstock

2017 plans start with the season of gratitude

Robust financial plans build confidence for farm leaders and their lenders.

Over the next week or so, many will gather together with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. My hope is that it will be a time for you to be refreshed and renewed in those relationships, during this time of year that’s meant for celebration. I hope that you take some time to refresh and renew yourself and enjoy the blessings of the season.

If you farm with your family members, there’s even more to be thankful for. Family relationships can bring blessings in many ways, with the added elements of running a business together and the opportunity to work alongside of family.

Looking ahead

Part of our response to feelings of gratitude might be looking ahead to the future, toward whatever is on the horizon for the farm in the next year. As the farm’s leader, we’re responsible for setting the business direction – along with other primary stakeholders in our operation – for where the farm is headed, and how it will get there.

Thankfulness for what we’ve been able to accomplish and build in the operation can lead to questions about the future. We might wonder what that future will be like, or maybe even whether it’s going to be better than the past. Those types of thoughts could lead us to begin to feel anxious about the future in some ways, as we’re uncertain what’s in store.

I think one of the best, most proactive responses to these types of feelings is to take action – and not just any type of action – the action of planning. We’re seeing and hearing from many farmers that their lenders are requiring more robust, intensive plans. In some cases, they’re even requiring monthly cash flow plans.

Building confidence

The more we can dig in and create these plans, the better. Making clear future plans – for financial success and where you want your farm to be – is what lenders and others are seeking from farmers. Planning can even develop more confidence within you as the farm’s leader, around what you need to do and the actions you will take to get to where you want to be.

Overall, getting on track with where the farm’s financials are at, and being clear about the decisions you need to make in the upcoming year to be successful shows lenders and others that you take your farm’s business and future seriously.

In this season of joy and gratefulness, take some time to consider where your farm is now – its current state. Then, start to consider the big picture of your farm’s long-term future – who will be involved? and where are we headed? – before diving into more detailed financial planning this winter.

Taking action

As you work on plans that you’ll be sharing with your lender and others, you may want to hear additional perspectives or ideas. Consider working with a team of farm business advisors – including an ag finance advisor – to gain another set of eyes and perspective on your plans.

Read the new winter issue of the Smart Series publication, bringing business ideas for today’s farm leader. This issue features tips on harnessing the power of your farm’s numbers, how to set up an employee strategy, and ideas on shielding your farm from unexpected events. Get your free online issue here.


The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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