Sam Smith, Farm Business Specialist at the Intervale Center in Burlington, VT
Just before Thanksgiving every year I get a flurry of calls from farmers ready to start the business planning process. They have brought in or sold their crops and are starting to think about next year. One of the first topics we cover when sitting down to start the planning process is farm and personal goals.
While planning is usually focused on the financial goals for the farm business, I also recommend developing or reviewing non-financial goals. Financial goals are very important, but I find that they sometimes overshadow other farm or personal goals. Farmers need money to stay in business, but the actions they take to meet their financial goals often take them farther away from their other goals.
An example of this would be a vegetable farmer who identifies the financial goal of growing her business to a larger scale to make more money. While that goal makes financial sense, she may end up managing a crew of farm workers and making sales calls instead of doing the field work she really want to be doing.
Having clarity around non-financial goals can help identify the desired future state, which can be aligned with financial goals. Chances are you got in to farming for a variety of reasons, but being clear in those reasons will help you from going down a path that takes you away from them.