Who Is on Your Farm and Ranch Management (FARM) Team?

Who Is on Your Farm and Ranch Management (FARM) Team?
Extension Educator and Agricultural Systems Economist
Men standing in front of barn.

Lance Cheung/USDA.

Lance Cheung/USDA

When owning or working on a farm or a ranch, you wear many hats. You are an agronomist, a mechanic, a truck driver, a marketer and a family mediator. But what about when you need professional advice and guidance? 

Do you have the right team of professionals assembled to tackle the challenges of farming or ranching? As a farmer or rancher, you should develop a Farm and Ranch Management (FARM) Team. This team should comprise industry professionals who can help you make critical business decisions.

Who is on your FARM team?

Although these individuals may not sit at the dinner table with you, they are an integral part of your business. Being able to delegate tasks or get sound advice from them can have a positive impact on your bottom line.  Building a strong team can make tough times a lot easier. Here are some ideas of who you should include on this list:

  • Key family members
  • Key employees
  • Banker
  • Financial planner
  • Investment advisor
  • Accountant
  • Elevator
  • Agronomist/crop scout
  • Insurance agent
  • Lawyer
  • Landlords
  • Veterinarians
  • Extension educator/agent

Are you the CEO of your operation?

Having a trusted FARM team can assist in the decision making. However, you must remain the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your operation. If you have asked the same question to your banker, tax accountant and lawyer, they may provide three separate pieces of advice. You must assess the pros and cons of your options and ultimately make the decision.

Are you using your FARM team effectively?

Dropping off your receipts at the tax accountant’s office on April 10 may not provide him or her a clear picture of the goals you have for your operation. Having scheduled timely meetings with each of your FARM team members can improve their ability to serve you. During these meetings you will want to discuss your current situation, your future direction, and your plan of attack. With this information, they can advise you on services they provide and where they can help you improve your operation. 

Some big decisions, like developing an estate plan, may require that you meet with multiple members of your FARM team at once.  Having multiple advisors in the same meeting lets everyone hear the same discussion and allows advisors to debate the pros and cons of the proposed solution from each vantage point. Formal FARM team meetings with multiple advisors can create a clearer line of communication. 

Who is the weak link on your FARM team?

Having a weak link on your FARM team could be detrimental. For example, an agronomist who recommends an application that does not have a positive return on investment can mean wasted dollars. Why are these people on your team? Are they the most cost-effective choice? What other resources do you have at your disposal?

Sometimes it is hard to “fire” members of your FARM team but consider the expense of keeping these weak links. Time, money and trust are not resources that are easily regained.

Sometimes it may not be possible to replace a member of your team. For example, “firing” a landlord or tenant may not be possible, especially if they are family. In these situations, consider ways to improve your working relationship with them. Are you communicating with them effectively? What can you do to engage them more in the decision-making process? How can you approach this situation to make it more mutually beneficial?

As a farmer or rancher, you cannot do it all but, with the help of a strong FARM team, you can make the best decisions possible for your operation.

This is an update of an article originally posted CropWatch on Sept. 30, 2016.