Accurate books—they're not just for your taxes

Ag Finance Advisor Tim Brhel recently spoke on-air with KRVN broadcaster Dewey Nelson about the importance of keeping accurate farm books year-round. He says bookkeeping is not something anyone should scramble around with at the end of the calendar year just to get their tax accountant off their back. Too many farmers approach farm bookkeeping with this attitude, not realizing they are missing the opportunity to utilize a tool that can bring them great insight for leading the farm to its goals more efficiently.

Brhel says frequently updated farm books not only give you a constant picture of the overall financial health of the operation, but they also help you plan and make responsible and well-informed input decisions not only for the current crop year, but also for heading into the next one. In fact, bookkeeping is key...But it's no secret that during busy times like planting and harvest, attention to a farm's books can slip through the cracks and get buried in all the other tasks at hand. He's got some tips to help farm leaders ensure that doesn't happen.

You can listen to the whole conversation from KRVN radio by clicking on the title of this post.

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Manage financials for farm wins

It's a common series of questions. "How can I better manage my farm's financials?" "What can I do differently to help me save and utilize our money toward the operation's goals?"

Many of the farmers we've worked with have found that the act of working to manage the financials and using forward-looking accrual projections in their future planning have helped to make them a better manager; one sort of follows the other as an added bonus.

CEO Darren Frye explains more about how forward-looking accruals projections work, along with an example, in his latest Finance First post on

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Podcast - Negotiation for better results w/ G. Richard Shell

This week's new Modern Farm Business™ podcast episode features an interview with the author of "Bargaining for Advantage," an internationally recognized authority on law, dispute resolution and negotiation, Professor G. Richard Shell. He joins Dean for a conversation around negotiation tools and methods to make sitting around the negotiating table a more fulfilling and equitable experience. Listen today by clicking the title of this post, and subscribe for more in your favorite podcast app. 

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When is the right time to start thinking about 2018?

Here at Water Street Solutions, we've been working with our clients to project their 2018 crop year for the past several months, and our meetings have continued along with harvest.  We have found that farmers often get held up when it comes to forward-looking projections because of the seasonality of farming, or because their current crop year is still unresolved. However, we believe that—especially in the fourth quarter—assembling forward-looking, accrual-based financial projections should be near the top of every farm leader's to-do list.

In this week's interview with Dewey Nelson of KRVN radio, Account Manager Jason Ladman recommends tossing out the mindset which says you have to wait for the 2017 balance sheet before you can start planning for 2018. In fact, the earlier you can have an accrual-based projection in hand, the sooner you can start making well-informed decisions and craft a plan to set up the next crop year. Then down the road, when you have the final numbers from your harvest, you can make adjustments to that plan accordingly. 

Click on the title of this post to listen to a more thorough exploration of these ideas.

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Silver lining for young farmers to current hard times

Many might say the current ag economy is intimidating to young farmers as they seek out experience and try to acquire the skills they'll need to one day run their own operation. Water Street CEO Darren Frye argues that, though it may at first seem counterintuitive, this ag environment can be used as a real benefit for those future farm leaders just starting to find their footing.

Oftentimes you will find that the best managers are created during the worst of times. If everything is peachy and farmers are enjoying excellent margins, there aren't many lessons to be learned about efficiency and managing things tightly. Seeing others making decisions on the farm with such tight margins—and possibly making some decisions of their own—is a learning experience you can't get from a book, or even from the "I remember when..." stories of an elder generation. 

Read more of what Frye has to say on this week's Finance First post on

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Podcast - Think differently about crop fertility w/Darren Frye

In this week's Modern Farm Business™ podcast, Dean welcomes our own CEO Darren Frye to discuss the science and economics of crop fertility. This valuable discussion touches on air/water management, nutrient management, plant genetics, soil testing, and much more. It's a conversation you can't find anywhere else. Listen now, and subscribe with your favorite podcast provider.

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Build your landlords' understanding this fall

Not having much control over your own rent costs, it's normal that a farmer can begin to feel anxious about making forward-looking plans for their operation, especially if a large percentage of the land you farm is rented. The key to helping alleviate some of that stress is to develop good relationships with your landlords. Be proactive and transparent with landlord relationships. If you have several landlords, remember to treat each of them as individuals rather than lumping them all together.
Update your landlords on the operation's progress all the calendar year instead of just filling them in on how well their land is producing every harvest. Demonstrate your leadership skills and forward-looking thought processes. Share not only your farm's story, but also the story of the current ag industry in general. Seek feedback from your landlords to improve your business and your communication.
Click the title of this post to hear Water Street Account Manager Jason Ladman cover this topic on KRVN radio with ag broadcaster Dewey Nelson.

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Face the future with power to enact change

This week in his Finance First post, Darren Frye addresses a reader's question about how to improve their planning-ahead process for the 2018 crop year. The key word there is process—because planning ahead is not a single event, but rather a developing system of routines which can begin for an upcoming crop year as early the preceding summer. Planning ahead is highly recommended because it means looking at possible future outcomes and starting today to make the necessary changes and evaluate your decisions carefully.

In answering this question for his reader, Darren touches on self-assessment questions to give you a starting point, the aspect of communication with bankers and landlords, and the idea of seeking third-party insight from advisors. You can read the whole article at

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Podcast - Turn disruption into advantage w/Daniel Burrus

We are pleased to welcome Daniel Burrus to the show this morning! Mr. Burrus is considered one of the world’s leading technology forecasters and innovation experts. He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advances in technology-driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities.
Mr. Burrus is a strategic advisor to executives helping them, to develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations. He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times bestseller Flash Foresight, and his latest book, The Anticipatory Organization
He joins Dean to talk about creating advantage for your operation by monitoring technology trends in the ag industry. Access the full Modern Farm Business™ episode by clicking on the title of this post or heading over to, or subscribe in your favorite podcast application.

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Think ahead to 2018...and beyond

What's going through your mind as you ride in that combine this fall? Is it your plans for the upcoming year? No? Perhaps you're wondering how you can even begin thinking about 2018 when '17 still isn't even in the books yet.

Water Street Senior Director Dean Heffta suggests getting a head start on plans for the future. He says begin with, for instance, a broad plan of goals for the upcoming 5-10 years. Then start dialing it in as time goes by. Using projections for your operation are a huge help, so if you don't have those, you might seek the help of an ag finance adviser. Once those projections are a tool in your belt, look at goals for 2018 and start crafting action plans to achieve those goals. Narrow your areas of focus, identify what sort of help or resources you'll need, and plan to keep yourself accountable for execution.

To learn more, listen as Dean talks it over with Associate Farm Director Dewey Nelson of KRVN.

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Start planning 2018 early with accrual-based projections

Oftentimes farmers seems to believe they have to wait until the balance sheet arrives for the current year before they should start looking at and planning for the coming year. You could be waiting as late as February for that...which doesn't leave you enough time to use that data in your decision-making for the beginning of next season.

Our ag finance advisors begin laying the groundwork for next year's crop before the current crop's harvest even begins. Once harvest finishes, they'll jump right in with their clients to start making more accurate accrual-based projections and planning for next year's expenses before even receiving that balance sheet. Later on they'll make any necessary tweaks and adjustments once it has arrived.

In his latest Finance First post on, Darren Frye explains why we do things this way, and the benefits our clients receive from this proactive approach to formulating projections.

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Modern Farm Business™ podcast #18: Power up your lender strategy

There's no downside to developing an exceptional working relationship with your ag lender. So how does one go about doing that? Join our Senior Director, Dean Heffta, as he explores this topic along with a look at the banker's perspective from Ag Commercial Lender and Senior VP at Bell Bank in West Fargo, North Dakota, Jason Peterson. These tips will help you better address one another's needs and expectations, improving your rapport and ultimately benefiting the both of you in your respective businesses.

Listen to this important episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast by clicking the title of the post above, subscribe in your favorite podcast app, and leave us a review on iTunes. And if you like what you hear, spread the word to others in your operation. Thanks for listening!

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Prepare now for future farm leadership

The younger generation of farmers today is filled with lots of grit and anticipation for taking the reins of leadership. You might be looking forward to carrying on leading a family farm or even starting a new operation with a friend or neighbor, but either way it's an approaching first venture in farm leadership.

As you look toward this future, you might be feeling anxious or a bit overwhelmed at the prospect, and that's completely normal. The key to alleviating some of that apprehension is to start today with an open, learner's mindset. Ask yourself, "What is it that I don't know?" "What is it that I don't know I don't know?" and "How do I find learn more about both?" Realize that nobody—even farmers who've been at it for decades—nobody has all the answers. Begin asking questions now. It's never too early to start learning.

In his latest interview with ag broadcaster Dewey Nelson, Water Street Director Dean Heffta helps young farmers get focused on acquiring the skills they'll need to one day lead an operation with confidence. Listen to the entire conversation by clicking the title of this post above.

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Build landlords' understanding to build a better future

Farming on rental ground is an uncertain proposition. It's an area in which you, as a farm leader, have much less control than you are accustomed to. Planning for the future can be difficult if a large percentage of your farmed land is rental property. It's difficult, yes; but it can be done. 

A great way to counter some of that uncertainty is to be proactive about your landlord relationships. Building a strong relationship can go a long way toward helping in the day-to-day, but in particular when it comes to any negotiations that come up along the way.

In this week's Finance First post, Water Street CEO Darren Frye helps us strengthen the bonds we have with our landlords by bringing leadership to the relationship, maintaining transparency, and setting the stage for future discussions. Read the full story at

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Modern Farm Business™ podcast #17: Financial fundamentals

Sociologist William Bruce Cameron once wrote: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” So which "countables" do you count in order to stay on top of your farm's trajectory toward its goals? This week on Modern Farm Business™, Dean covers basic financial ratios, with insights from Ag Finance Specialist Tim Brhel.

Click the title of this post to access our latest podcast.

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How do I beat my best? Part 2

To be competitive in farming, you need to not only work on items like improving yields, selling higher, reducing input costs and working on lowering your tax bill—you need to monitor the right metrics in your operation to be able to track your trajectory and make course corrections. There are a lot of metrics out there; the key lies in figuring out which ones are most worthwhile for using to make future farm decisions.

Ag Finance Specialist Tim Brhel continues his discussion with KRVN's Dewey Nelson this week to help farmers reach their production efficiency goals through planning and execution based on farm metrics.

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Plan now for the 2018 crop year

Whether you're rolling in the field or still trying to get started on harvest, hopefully you've already begun thinking about next year's plan. You might wonder why you'd start planning '18 when this year's crop isn't even in the bin yet. The reason is that if you start now—or maybe even if you'd started planning over the summer—that preparation can let you start making decisions now that will set you up for a better 2018.

If you're anxious about the financial success of the upcoming crop year, putting off planning til later is not going to help. It's best to dig in and see where you stand now so that you can get ahead of it. Once you know where your operation stands going into the new year, you'll either be happy to find out you're actually in a better place than you'd imagined—or you'll find out for sure that it's not very pretty at all. Either way, you'll know for sure—and it'll give you plenty of time to begin making decisions now to steer the outcome toward your favor.

Darren Frye, President and CEO of Water Street Solutions, has prepared a checklist of six things to think about this fall to begin wrapping your mind around a plan for '18. You can read all about it on his latest Finance First post at

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Podcast - Eliminating generational frustration w/Cam Marston

"What's wrong with this generation?"
"Why is this generation so lazy?" 
"When I was his age..."

If you find phrases like this coming out of your mouth with any regularity, you might like to hear what generational change expert Cam Marston has to say on the subject. He's our guest on the new episode of Modern Farm Business™ podcast.

Cam is a leading expert on the impact of generational change on the workplace. He has authored several books on the subject, and he and his firm, Generational Insights, have provided training and consultation to hundreds of companies and professional groups for over 20 years. Cam’s expertise has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, the Chicago Tribune, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Money, and Forbes, as well as on Good Morning America, CNN International, and the BBC. Learn more about Cam Marston and his work at and

To listen to our enlightening sit-down with Cam, click the title of the post above.

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How do I beat my best?

Just as athletes know their numbers and the best performances they've given throughout their careers, and they're always working to beat their best--farm leaders should be tracking their operation's performance over the years and working to boost their efficiencies wherever possible. Everyone would love to see their efficiency improve over time, becoming a lower cost per bushel producer. That's kind of the name of the game when it comes to production agriculture. 

Tim Brhel recently spoke with KRVN's Dewey Nelson about how to get started tracking your operation's metrics and begin a program to boost your farm's efficiencies. There are a lot of numbers to comb through on any given operation, so which metrics are the right ones to track? Listen to the full interview by clicking on the title of this post.

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How are future farm leaders preparing today?

For young farmers, it can be overwhelming or daunting to think about the day when you will be running a farm by yourself. You could be building your own farm from scratch, working with a neighbor, or taking control of a family operation. The best advice we can give is to approach the whole process with a learner's mindset. Recognize that you don't only not know a lot of things about running a farm—you might not even realize what it is that you don't know. Ask a lot of questions.

Darren Frye, President and CEO of Water Street Solutions, has advice for anyone getting ready to start preparing to run the operation. He recently discussed this topic in his latest Finance First blog post. You can read it online now at

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