The fall season is a wonderful celebration of changing colors, bountiful harvests, family time, and of course, football - whether it’s rooting for your local high school team or our beloved Green Bay Packers. It’s an exciting time!
As it relates to our farm loan clients, there should be some excitement for them in building and rooting for their own farm business team. Farm business teams can help ensure long-term success, navigating all the seasons of our agricultural economy. However, many clients struggle in finding the time and focuses required to build a team, meet regularly, and develop meeting agendas to help stakeholders understand and contribute to the business strategies and action plans.
Over the years, agri-professionals in the dairy sector have done a nice job in helping farm clients build their own teams. Often this was done when a dairy farm embarked upon an expansion. However, farms of all sizes and types can benefit from regular, planned team meetings. The grain sector seems farther behind in the development of this good habit, and it’s one that I encourage many of my grain farm clients to try.
Here are some benefits of building a farm business team and meeting regularly:
- Strategic Planning - Team members shift to thinking holistically about the farm’s long-term success rather than just focusing a particular issue and impact to one enterprise or functional area of the farm.
- Defined Action Plans - Team members are encouraged to contribute useful knowledge and information about challenges and opportunities at hand which leads to better decision-making by the group and delegation of tasks.
- Information, Communication, and Cross-training - Regular meetings provide a venue for all team members to hear the same information, understand the "why’s", gain consensus on actions and decisions to be made, and build trust amongst the team.
- Reduce Groupthink & Encourage Contingency Planning - Outside advisors (bankers, agronomists, nutritionists, veterinarians, etc.) can present fresh industry information and ideas and also ask the tough questions to challenge the group about a chosen path, possible alternatives, and what-if scenarios.
- Upgrade in Professionalism - Planned meeting agendas require people to show up on time and be on good behavior. This also helps separate important farm discussions from family matters and personality differences that can get in the way at times.
Here’s to the fall season and celebrating our favorite farm business teams!
Amber Keller is senior vice president, director of ag banking at Town Bank in Clinton, and serves on the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board.