You can’t get with the (farm) plan until you create one

There’s a lot of power in sitting down as a family and writing down your short-term and long-term goals

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Got a plan for 2016?

If not, you can start by reviewing the goals you had for last year, says a provincial farm financial specialist.

“This is an important process,” said Rick Dehod. “Reflecting on how you have done helps you set goals for the farm business in 2016 and influences what you feel is achievable.

“Think about what major decisions you made in the last three years. What were the successes or failures? What were the circumstances surrounding those decisions? What alternatives did you consider? Knowing the outcomes, would your decision be different today?”

Setting goals is the next step.

“It is easier to get the job done when you know where you are going and when you want to get there.”

But don’t make the mistake of not writing them down, said Dehod.

“Putting them in writing adds the additional discipline that often makes the difference between success and failure,” he said.

This is doubly important when it’s a family operating the farm.

“Different family members will have different goals or may rank the importance of a goal differently. This can result in conflict. That is why it is important to develop goals as a group.”

Examples of specific goals are:

  • To have higher net farm income;
  • To avoid years of low income or high losses;
  • To maintain or improve the family’s lifestyle;
  • To increase net worth;
  • To stay in business as a family.

“Families all have short-term and long-term goals,” said Dehod. “By discussing the family’s goals you can set priorities on what you want to achieve. As a result, you will reduce frustrations and increase understanding and commitment.”

Successful farm managers understand the importance of having written goals, he said.

“By setting goals they shape events, rather than letting events shape them. Success in farming depends on setting and attaining goals.”

The Farm Manager section of Alberta Agriculture’s website has information on business planning.

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