I am not telling you something you do not already know, “we are in and will continue to be in tough agricultural times”. Grain and livestock prices are low, milk prices are below low and inputs are still too high. I’ve been in ag-business for 40 years and have experienced a lot and learned from what I experienced. I have seen times similar to this in the past, they will get better and they will return.
Being in the agricultural finance world I read plenty on what Ag bankers for all over the country are suggesting farmer should do to help weather the current agricultural economy. I would like to share some of their ideas which I feel are important to you and that I agree with.
Assess your land:
Look at each individual rented piece of land you operate. Is it a cash flow positive or negative?
Look at it over a number of years. Look at the rent you are paying for it now and the production it produces and ask yourself “Is it worth it?” Take the emotion out of your decision, this is a business you are running. You may have rented this land for years or you hate to have someone else farm it but if you can’t make money farming it do you really think someone else can.
Review your living expenses:
Look at your 2017 living expense the amount you have drawn from your farming operation may very well surprise you. Look over your living expenses, I’m not saying you have to cut them but be darn sure you know where those dollars are being spent.
Make a marketing plan:
If you don’t currently have a marketing plan, one in writing not in your head, make sure you have one in place for 2018. Historically, this has been the determining factor in times like these that has made the difference between profitable operations and losing operations. The marketing plan is a must in order to make sure you know when the good opportunities present themselves. These plan are not developed by someone like me or your lender, they are put together by yourself and a grain marketing professional, in fact we have a very good one here at CHS Larsen in Marcus Cordonnier.
Use all resources available:
We just talked about a grain marketing professional (resource) and developing a grain marketing plan.
Your CHS Larsen agronomist is an excellent resource for you, they are on top of all the latest trends, products, and technology available and have the “on hands” experience to go with them.
You have bankers, accountants, crop insurance agents, etc. for resources to use. These individuals aren’t going to run your operation but give you their insight into their specialty because the farmer is the CEO of the company, and it’s always good when the CEO reaches out for advice. In the end the farmer makes the final decision, but it’s going make them feel better knowing they have utilized resources to put a plan together to move the business forward.
By Dave Banks, Loan Officer