GFM Network News


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

Leverage and the fascinating world of stock options

While the world of stock investing is misunderstood, options are truly the great unknown

While the world of stock investing is misunderstood, this pales in comparison to misunderstanding around leverage or options. Leverage is the use of borrowed money to accelerate the purchase of a larger asset than you could purchase with cash. It is often possible to purchase real estate with as little as 10 per cent of […] 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

Facing and addressing farm financial issues

Bad harvest weather. Low prices. If things look grim, it’s time to get to work

When there are financial concerns on the farm, it’s important to address them sooner rather than later, and find a way forward. Financial issues can occur in any business. Reasons for financial distress on farms can be as varied as harvest issues, crop failures, decreased market prices, cash-flow challenges or excessive debt loads. It is […] Read more


Farming and investing in the stock market: there are many similarities

Both have randomness and volatility; plus, good management doesn’t always lead to good outcomes

Stock investing and farming entail variability and random chance. Both also create opportunities for profit when randomness and volatility are understood. I introduced the “bell curve” in my last column, demonstrating how portfolios have good and bad outliers, while most stocks clustered around the mean. Does this concept apply to farming? Say you farm 11 fields of canola […] Read more

Investing and the omnipresent impact of the bell curve

Outstanding performance of the titanium portfolio on its first anniversary

Last year I described my “Titanium Strength Model Portfolio,” based on buying and holding strong stocks. Now it’s time to take a look at my results. How did the portfolio perform? How did it compare to market indices? What other nuggets can we glean that might aid our understanding of portfolio management? What does a […] Read more


Farm Financial Planner: Farm succession through intergenerational money lending

Lending cash to the kids: A “family bank” can transfer assets to the next generation

A couple we’ll call Bob and Tess, both 59, have farmed in central Manitoba for four decades. Their farm has 3,000 acres, mostly in grain. Bob’s health has declined, and he feels he cannot carry on much longer. Their son, Fred, is 24. He hasn’t been farming, but he would like to supplement his income […] Read more

A good financial investment can return 10 times in a decade or two.

Long-term U.S. successes, and blemishes

Adding U.S. stocks to your portfolio brings diversification and a chance to profit

Previously, I shared examples from my Canadian portfolio that contributed to long-term investment success. The Canadian market is just three per cent of the world market and isn’t very well diversified, with financial and resource companies dominating. This makes international diversification a key success component. My longest standing stock account is an RRSP. Many years […] Read more