GFM Network News



Seven strategies of successful farms

Focusing on costs, risks, and your farm’s budget and financial plan

I’ve been discussing the top seven practices of successful farm management. In this article, let’s focus on the last three. No. 5 on the list is knowing your cost of production. I break costs of production out into three components: direct, variable and fixed costs. Direct costs are those expenses that have a direct impact […] Read more


The Sky is not falling, Part 2

Free markets are best equipped to find solutions to global problems


Developed economies operate under a democratic, capitalist, free-market system. Developing countries often have socialist, autocratic, controlled-market systems — although many are becoming freer. It seems obvious to me which system is superior, yet the continuing tug on free-market economies is towards socialism, because “profit” is considered a dirty word implying that one party took advantage […] Read more

Is your farm doing cash, accrual, or no budgeting?

Farm Management: Budget planning hasn’t kept pace with today’s farm value, size, or complexity

Our firm, Stark & Marsh, uses benchmarking as a tool to compare farm financial performance. The average southwest Saskatchewan incorporated farm we benchmark is 4,000 acres. Between inputs, machinery and land, costs can meet and exceed $300/acre. Costs of $300/acre multiplied by 4,000 acres equals an annual expense budget of $1.2 million dollars. This number […] Read more


Farm Financial Planner: Estate planning for the very long term

This tree farmer’s crop will take decades to mature, but tax planning is still key

David, a name we’re giving to a tree farmer in eastern Ontario, is 83. His wife passed away some years back. He converted a 47-acre former hay and horse farm to trees. Now there are 25,000 trees growing, a crop that, given natural mortality, he is unlikely to see mature. The trees are varied, including […] Read more

How to ask your lender for money when you need it

Having a business plan that tells your farm’s story increases your chance of success with lenders

In the first article in this series, I introduced several options available to farmers experiencing financial difficulties. I advised farmers to address financial issues sooner rather than later and not to lay blame on anyone or anything (like the weather). In the second article, I presented an example of using debt restructuring and asset sales […] Read more


Family sees four options to get farm finances on track

If you’re in financial trouble, address the problem without abandoning your goals

Farmers facing financial issues should address these issues as soon as they occur. In this case, Joe and Sally saw a potential problem and took steps to find a way forward. Although this example is a small farm, the issues and options are equally applicable to larger operations. A farm couple that we will call […] Read more

When you ask questions with respect and from a perspective of creating solutions to a problem you have a chance to be heard.

How to approach Father for more financial transparency

Find out what’s causing fear of transparency and learn how to talk openly about money

One of the key definitions for fairness I use is “Fairness is helping everyone be successful.” The “F” in FAIR, stands for financial transparency. What does this mean to young farmers hoping to take over the management of the farm? It means everything! Last night our family had an impromptu meal at the successor’s home. […] Read more


Your farm financial scorecard

Farm financial statements can offer you a lot more than just a way to keep score

If you had time to go golfing or perhaps mini-golfing last summer, you likely filled out a scorecard to track your success (or lack thereof). Keeping score allows you to track your progress and rank yourself against your competition. The golf clubs, green fees, and your time represent a significant investment and the scorecard measures […] Read more

Farm Financial Planner: Selling to get out from under debt

With no farming children and little income flowing in from the farm, it’s time to sell


A couple we’ll call Harry, 74, and Anne, 72, have been farming in central Manitoba for four decades and would like to retire. They have 1,600 acres — 600 for grain and the remainder for pasture and hay. Their children, two sons and two daughters, have careers away from the family farm. The problem: pay […] Read more