Farmers and advisers: a two-way street

From bankers to accountants, agronomists and veterinarians, farmers work with several advisers to ensure they keep their operation running. But the way in which farmers work with each professional can determine how much their operation flourishes.

Patti Durand is an FCC agriculture transition specialist based in Humboldt, Sask.

She says farmers need to recognize they are the stars of their operation and structure relationships so they are not spectators.

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Greg Stamp, who farms with his brothers in Enchant, Alta., says each of them has a specific responsibility on the farm and deals with different advisers based on the part of the operation they manage.

He stresses internal and external communication is key to building long-lasting relationships that improve farm efficiencies.   

Starting off on the right foot

Stamp says he and his brothers make sure they have a plan and a vision of what they want to do before going to an adviser.

“An adviser can’t help you if you don’t know where you are going,” Stamp says.

Durand points out the initial conversation with any adviser is important.

“What are their realistic expectations of the advice they are giving, what is the level of priority, and what is the turn-around time creating reports or financial statements or whatever the particular adviser is doing for you,” Durand says.

She says setting expectations is important, which leads to trust. Stamp agrees, noting confidence in each other is paramount in this type of business relationship.

Timeliness and clarity

Getting quality advice is a two-way street according to Durand and Stamp.

The farmer must provide accurate information in a timely manner, while at the same time, the adviser must make themselves available and endeavour to understand the goals of the farmer and farm operation.

Durand says it’s important the farmer knows their role in the relationship.

“Whether it is getting financial information to the accountant or bookkeeper or providing what was sprayed on what field and time to your agronomist.”

At the same time, Stamp says there may be long stretches of time between conversations with advisers, followed by instances where there is the need for timely advice.

“The season changes or something you are working on requires more input, and then all of a sudden, you need someone who you can trust and can understand what you are doing and what your goals are,” Stamp says.

Finding efficiencies

Durand says farmers can increase their farm efficiency by determining what they are good at and then bringing in team members to help with the rest.

“Taking time for a hard look at what is being done well and what needs improvement can be a very productive step, Durand says.

This is where Stamp says trust plays into the equation, with the farmers relying on the adviser to step in and make suggestions to improve the operation and the adviser trusting the farmer to act on the information.

“We know what each other is doing and they are going to provide us with the solutions we need to reach our goal,” Stamp says.

Bottom line

Creating a team of farm advisers who understand the goals of an operation is critical to success. However, farmers are the stars of the business, not the spectators. Providing timely and accurate information as well as having a firm vision of business goals helps farm advisers provide the greatest assistance.

Article by: Craig Lester