Four steps to finding great employees for your farm

In the latest Modern Farm Business podcast, Dean Heffta builds on the "people" aspect of running a farm by helping listeners streamline the recruiting and hiring process. Find more candidates with the right "fit" by following the process of:

  1. Foundation
  2. Clarification
  3. Communication
  4. Selection

Check out Modern Farm Business for FREE at Subscribe for a new show each week on the iTunes or Play store, or with your favorite podcast application.

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Be intentional about setting the farm's culture

Every farm leader feels the occasional frustration when it comes to managing employees. A well-thought out and carefully crafted farm culture can help alleviate some of those frustrations. We've found that on operations where the culture has just been allowed to unfold on its own, farm leaders are more frequently having to deal with people problems, thus spending a lot less time on the vital work the farm depends on for success.

Jason Ladman recently spoke with farm broadcaster Dewey Nelson about how and why a farm leader should work with intention to form the culture on the farm.

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Accurate farm numbers help make farm decisions

It's sometimes a challenge to stay on top of all the responsibilities of a farm leader and to keep the operation running each day. In addition to the actual farming, there's the people side of the business--working with employees, vendors, suppliers--which can be enough on its own at times. Add to that the business and financial management for the operation, and sometimes one thing or the other ends up getting neglected. Often it's the finances that fall behind.

Not having updated financial records on-hand means any decisions you're making for the farm are not as well-informed as they could be. Our farmer clients find that it makes a big difference when you have up-to-date finances to refer to when considering decisions on behalf of the farm. In his latest Finance First post, Water Street CEO Darren Frye explains why just updating your financial records once a year at tax time is not sufficient for running the best business possible.

Read more about it at

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The freedoms and opportunities of farming

Being a farmer has definitely got its advantages. It comes with the freedom to make your own schedule and enjoy a variety of work each day, as well as the opportunity to carry on a family tradition and pass that tradition down to the next generation.

But there's a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of today's farm leaders too. Deciding where the operation is headed for the future and just how to get there is a stressful proposition. Many farm leaders question themselves along the way, asking:
"How do I know I'm making the right decisions for the farm?"
"What factors should I consider when making these decisions?"
"How do I know when the next generation is ready to handle more of these responsibilities so I can begin stepping back once in awhile?"

How can a farm leader start answering some of these questions? Listen to Water Street Solutions Director Dean Heffta talk it over with ag broadcaster Dewey Nelson in this KRVN radio interview.

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Put yourself in banker's shoes to strengthen relationship

One of your farm's most important business relationships is the one you have with your lender. No matter how long you've been working together, what kind of ag climate we're in or whether your farm is flourishing or facing challenges, it's vital for a farmer to have a strong working relationship with the banker.

In his latest Finance First post, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye explores three areas to consider in keeping your relationship with your banker healthy on the lender's terms. It's all about stepping into your lender's shoes and giving them what it takes to improve a client-lender relationship from their perspective. You can read it all at

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Envision the farm's future

One of the best things a leader can do for the farm is to spend time looking ahead to its future. Thinking ahead about the major decisions that will shape where the farm will be in the decades to come is key to help guide a farm leader's decisions along the way because that vision gives them a blueprint to rely on and keep the operation's progress on course. It allows them to hold up each major decision and ask, "Does this particular choice help us achieve our operation's long-term goals?"

Dean Heffta recently spoke with KRVN broadcaster Dewey Nelson about how and why a farm leader should be intentional about creating and sharing a long-term vision for the future of their farm. 

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Is it time to grow the farm?

As a farm leader, you might be feeling that itch to grow the operation or branch out and diversify by starting a new side business. Maybe more family members are returning to the farm and they rely on the income, maybe it's a long-term goal for the farm, or maybe you've just got an entrepreneurial thirst that won't be slaked by simply adding more acres. Sometimes an opportunity for growth might even land right in your lap.

The real question is: How do you know when it's the right time to grow? That's a complicated issue which requires some analysis and evaluation to answer. In his latest Finance First column, Water Street Solutions CEO Darren Frye gives us five questions to consider in helping a farm leader determine if it's the right time to grow their operation.

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Preserve what's most valuable for the farm's future

What's the first thing that comes to mind if someone were to ask you what matters most to you about farming? Tradition and your legacy? The values you use in making decisions for the farm? People you've worked with or learned from? The free lifestyle and the opportunities it provides?

Thinking about this is a great way to get the ball rolling and help you start putting a plan in place to carry on to future generations the things that you value most in the operation. Coming up with what you prize most about farming is the easy part. It's the next step that starts to get tricky and requires you to put in some effort and time.

Lance Burditt talks about how the current generation of farm leaders can get moving on planning the goals and priorities for the operation's future. In his interview with ag broadcaster Dewey Nelson, he'll break down the hows and whys of getting started on the planning process that will prepare yourself and the next generation for the farm's future.

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New Smart Series newsletter has arrived

In this midsummer edition of our free Smart Series newsletter, you'll find informative articles on the following topics related to the business of farming:

  • Hints to help manage your cash rent
  • How to recruit the best team players for your operation
  • All the latest information on the new crop insurance option known as Margin Protection Program
  • The continuation of a story on financial analysis from the previous issue
  • Leadership development on the farm
  • Staying up-to-date on your farm insurance policies

Check it out for free online, and subscribe for all the latest issues as they are released. 

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Listen to what your farm's numbers are saying

When the economic times in ag are tough--as they have been recently--many farmers have found it extremely helpful to know their true breakevens. Maintaining a current calculation of breakeven points is very important to help a farmer gauge the viability of potential purchases and investments. If you don't have accurate and up-to-date financial information for your operation, you're left to just take a guess at the farm's current financial state...And that's dangerous.

Sometimes it's necessary to enlist the help of a financial advisor to get a handle on things. If you haven't gotten a full financial analysis of the operation, now's the time. It's the best place to start, and from there you can do updates as necessary to keep your breakevens current. Darren Frye has a few questions to ask yourself to see if you're getting the most out of your farm's number, and you can read the full article in his Finance First column at

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What can you expect when you purchase rented ground?

KRVN's Dewey Nelson recently spoke with Water Street Solutions Account Manager Jason Ladman about what to consider when it comes to purchasing rented ground. Ladman says over the course of the next few years, a lot of land is going to be changing hands. Our advisors are more and more frequently hearing from farmers that they're being faced with decisions on whether or not to purchase a piece of ground that they're currently renting. 

Listen as Jason talks about the various scenarios and factors you should consider with your advisors before making a decision weighing your cash rent versus the cost of just acquiring that ground, or if it's worth it to even continue farming the land at all.

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Subscribe to our new podcast in iTunes and other podcast apps

Modern Farm Business podcast, hosted weekly by Water Street Solutions' own Dean Heffta, translates proven methods and best practices from the business arena to today's modern farm leadership environment. We'll be learning from forward-thinking experts and discovering how to apply time-tested techniques to make real improvements on the farm. You can subscribe now by clicking this link for iTunes, or look us up in the Google Play store, or the TuneIn or Stitcher apps, or any array of preferred podcast applications. Or listen to individual episodes at our official website,, or on our SoundCloud page. Follow Modern Farm Business podcast on Twitter @myfarmbusiness and on Facebook.

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Commit to building the right farm culture

Every farm--and every workplace, for that matter--has a unique cultural environment that has developed. The development of that culture either took place through careful planning and implementation, or completely on its own with no shaping or guidance from the farm leaders who designed and implement the farm's vision and direction.

The latter method is, simply put, a terrible way to create a culture in the workplace. If left completely up to chance, there is no possible way for a farm's culture to magically reflect the values and goals its leaders would like to see the operation adopt.

In his latest Finance First post, Water Street CEO Darren Frye discusses how and why to intentionally work at shaping your farming operation's culture so that it incorporates the core values and best practices you hold dear.

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Meeting the challenge on today's farms

Today's farm leaders are dealing with challenges that Dad and Grandpa wouldn't have faced during their farming careers. This new crop of farm leaders is stepping up to take on these new challenges in a proactive manner. Today's most successful farm leaders are increasingly more business-minded, like CEOs of their operations. They appreciate and recognize the methods of generations before them, but they also know that though whatever worked for their elders still has merit, it simply isn't enough on its own to meet today's new challenges.

Find out what sort of things these successful farm leaders are doing to stay ahead of the game and rise to the challenge of today's farming environment. Listen to this week's interview as Dean Heffta talks it over with KRVN's Dewey Nelson.

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The freedom and opportunity of farming

This week our nation celebrated its Independence Day and the many freedoms that independence has granted us. A farm leader in the U.S. is not just free as an American, but you also experience the freedoms of running a business--setting your own schedule and those of others, leading the operation according to the decisions you make, experiencing a great variety that each day has to offer...

Along with those great freedoms you enjoy as a farm leader, however, there come great responsibilities to yourself, to others, to the operation itself, and even to those who led before you. It can be a great weight, carrying the responsibility of making the best decisions possible in order to do the best for the operation and the generations yet to come.

In this week's Finance First post, Water Street CEO Darren Frye encourages farm leaders to be proactive and seek out opportunities to improve their decision-making, and he provides a few ideas to get started. Read what Darren has to say, only at

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Three keys to managing cash rent

Water Street Solutions Account Manager Lance Burditt recently spoke with KRVN's Dewey Nelson about what successful farmers are doing today to manage their cash rent well in today's volatile environment. Burditt says from his experience he's noticed that the farmers on top of their cash rent game are great at three things in particular:

  1. They know the exact cost of farming each piece of land and have analyzed the numbers to determine whether it's worth the cost and trouble to keep farming it.
  2. They concentrate on building good relationships with their landlords.
  3. They work on honing their negotiation skills, which helps immensely with rent discussions.

Click the title of this post to learn more and hear the entire discussion.

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What's on the horizon for your farm?

Being an effective farm leader means always keeping an eye on the future--that is, the future you've intended for the operation. Having a steadfast vision of where you want the farm to be in the coming five, ten, 20 years is a big help when it comes to weighing decisions today. Is the decision you're faced with going to help you guide the farm toward its intended goals?

In this week's Finance First post, Water Street CEO Darren Frye discusses being intentional about pursuing your future vision of the farm, communicating with others involved and guiding the operation always toward the vision you're fulfilling. If you don't maintain that intentionality, you could quickly find your plans starting to go off the rails.

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What's the most valuable thing about farming?

If you sit a moment and reflect on what you enjoy most about farming and what it is you value most about it, you'll probably come up with something rather quickly. Whether it's working the land, being around family and people you enjoy, the values you employ in making your farming decisions, or any number of other things, it'll probably come to mind without too much effort.

What sort of plans do you have in place to ensure that future generations in your operation are able to enjoy that same aspect of farming? Have you prepared the operation and its future leaders to keep your legacy intact when it's time for you to step down?

In Darren Frye's latest Finance FIrst blog post he discusses the idea of giving your farm a more solid grounding for years to come by running it today as a future-minded business. This includes detailed financial analyses and business plans for your farming operation as well as any side businesses. The crafting of these plans should involve all major stakeholders of your operation, and you might even seek out an external advisor you can trust.

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Dealing with people problems on the farm

Any farming operation that's seen a degree of growth over the years is familiar with the addition of more people. And whether it's more family members joining in to help or more hired hands, inevitably there will be miscommunications, disagreements or interpersonal strife of some sort along the road. As a farm leader, you're not only going to have to deal with all the regular challenges and issues farming brings, but you'll have to sort out more people problems as well.

People problems can not be awfully complex, and dealing with them can take up a lot of your time and energy. Water Street Solutions Account Manager Jason Ladman says that alleviating people problems and inspiring the cooperation and commitment of others on the farm begins with gaining a better understanding of yourself and others. He recently spoke with KRVN's Dewey Nelson on just this topic.

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