Farm peer advisory groups can boost your decision-making skills simply because you share with others to learn what works best for farms like yours. The mid-February issue of Farm Futures takes a closer look at the pros and cons of peer groups. Plus, we made special arrangements with Danny Klinefelter, extension economist at Texas A&M, to share with you a peer group resource guide written by Klinefelter and grad assistant Kayla Doerr. Click the link below to download the 29-page PDF.
Peer groups can be formed for any problem a farm operation may face. And becoming involved in a group may be easier than you may think. Klinefelter has counseled hundreds of business-minded farm operators as the director of The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers.
"At times, a producer needs an outside, independent perspective from someone in the same point of view from within a different company," he says. "Peer groups connect you with several people who can say, 'We've had this problem before, and this is how we addressed it.'"
Locating or beginning a peer group all starts with research. He suggests initially contacting existing groups, facilitators or organizations who coordinate peer groups.
"Facilitators are familiar with various groups and their goals, and may see where you would be the best fit," he says. "And, networking at various industry conferences can lead you to the best groups for your needs, as well."
If you desire to begin a group on your own, Klinefelter says it's critical to determine the topic of the group, whether it be accounting, production methods, cattle industry issues or independent business owner topics. Regardless of the topic, no more than eight to 10 participants are recommended.
"People can't ask questions or share effectively with more than 12 people in attendance," Klinefelter says. "I haven't seen any as large as 15 that functioned properly."
- Mike Wilson and Christy Couch Lee compiled this report.