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Farming can be a rough game to play

Protect yourself and your farm by making a risk management plan in advance

Having a well-thought-out risk management plan for your farm can help you endure market volatility.

In the middle of September, the Prairies were hit with frost, rain and snow. If this were a sporting event and I were the referee that would be enough for me to eject Mother Nature from the game along with a two or three game suspension for an unsportsman-like conduct penalty as her actions were uncalled for and nasty.

The U.S. and China have both recently announced further increases to tariffs against each other in their ongoing trade war. It looks like this will drag on for some time, as I don’t see either side willing to back down. This does not bode well for U.S. soybean farmers, as they remain locked out of their number one market. This has a direct ripple effect on canola producers, as is evident with the current slump we are seeing in canola prices due to the drop in U.S. bean values.

As the ref of this game I would call a double bench minor on this one. They are both to blame. I’d kick them both off of their benches for the rest of the game and let someone else step up to take over!

A change is leadership and strategy might be the only thing that will allow this current scenario to change. That will take at least another year, so this could be a long hard ride for the U.S. farmers.

Your protective gear

In my younger days of playing sports I was somewhat fearless and liked to be in the middle of all of the action. Playing hockey, I was a goalie and playing baseball I was a back catcher. From these positions I was able to see the whole rink or field and could get a better feel as to what was happening and help advise my teammates. In curling I liked to skip. That position allowed me to think strategically and plan ahead, depending on what shot the opposition tried. I had to pay attention to details such as how much the ice curled and how keen the ice was, so that when I called a shot I was as accurate as possible to enable my team to make the best shots and win the game.

Today’s business of farming requires many skills, some that I have mentioned plus many more, to effectively manage and operate a profitable farm operation. The skill I want to focus on today is risk management.

In hockey and ball, I wore protective equipment so if I took a puck or ball to the mask, gut or shoulder pad it wouldn’t really do any harm and I could continue playing. Your farm’s risk management plan is the protective gear you have to help you get through the game, hopefully with a win to show for all of your efforts.

Making sure you have all aspects of your risk covered off as best as you can is critical to ensure that you are able to take a hit or a stick and be able to get back up and back into the game with minimal negative impact to your performance. Hopefully this leads to a win in the game or a successful year on the farm.

Not making a plan or not checking your plan to ensure everything is in place is like skating out onto the ice without your protective gear. Then, should good old Mother Nature come along and give you a “dirty shot” with a stick or a puck, you could be down and out of the game for a while or for good, so “get your gear on.”

Your risk management plan comes out of necessity from your financial plan and ties in directly with your marketing plan which needs to be flexible to adjust to changes throughout the year.

Trying to do one of these without the others is leaving you unprotected and at great risk.

Don’t leave your gear in your hockey bag in the locker room, it won’t do you any good there! The game can be rough so be prepared and be as protected as you can and you will enjoy it a lot more.

If you want to learn more about building a Risk Management and Marketing Plan for your farm give me a call. 403-586-0077 or email [email protected].

About the author


Brian Wittal

Brian Wittal has 30 years of grain industry experience and currently offers market planning and marketing advice to farmers through his company Pro Com Marketing Ltd.



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