Making it Work for Everyone
A large portion of our day to day work involves working with farmers on behalf of the landowner. A good professional farm manager is an asset to the land owner and works diligently on the owner’s behalf. This can indeed create an adversarial relationship with the farmer, but that doesn’t mean a farm manager can’t be an advantage to all parties involved.
Here are five reasons a farmer can benefit from the involvement of a farm manager:
Not all owners are created equal
There are several types of ownership – individuals, corporations, trusts, multi-family, to name a few. Some of the more complicated ownership types can create a paperwork nightmare for the farmer to wade through. Government programs, input billing, grain sales, etc., become much more cumbersome to handle, not to mention time consuming. Having a farm manager involved can ease the paperwork headache for the farmer and allow him or her to deal directly with one manager, instead of several individuals.
Keep the farm
Believe it or not, there are cases where the farm manager’s involvement help keep the acreage for the farmer operation.
For example, one case involved a son that had just taken over for his mother who was moving to a nursing home. Over the years, the modest cash rent rate had not kept up with the increase in the grain markets. Because the son didn’t see enough income, he had decided to sell it to provide cash for his mother’s long-term care. While talking to the land broker, who was also a farm manager, the cash rent was discovered to be well below the current market rate. The manager recommended raising the rent to meet the needs of the care facility, and keep the farm in the family. While, the higher cash rent is not the desired result for the farmer, it is better than losing the acres all together.
Improving the line of communication can also help the farmer keep farmland in the operation. Many stories of lost acreage involve a miscommunication between a farmer and landowner. Farm managers can improve the lines of communication by providing a non-emotional buffer between the farmer and land owners. Sometimes a farm manager can support a farmer’s idea when an owner is skeptical. Yes, it does happen.
Farmers have a very good knowledge base for the farms they farm. Farm managers can sometimes provide a knowledge base over a larger geographical area. For example, a farmer may have a question on a pest that is moving their way. A farm manager may already have experience on that pest from a different managed farm on the other side of the state.
Farm managers can also provide valuable information that can help a farmer’s overall business plan. What are rent levels doing on the market? What does an investor-type landowner look for in a farm tenant? By building a good relationship, a farmer can get a sense of how landowners view the current climate, in turn, allowing the farmer to provide better service to their other land owners.
Farm managers can be a great source of additional acres for a farmer’s operation. Working with a farm manager in a positive way can lead to additional acres in the future. Farm managers often prefer to recommend farmers that have been good to work with in the past. Farm managers from outside an area also get referrals from other farm managers when looking for a new tenant for an owner. Good farm manager relationships can lead to more opportunities in the future.
Clear the air
Okay, so maybe there are just four good reasons for farmers to embrace farm managers. Changing the perceptions takes time. If you have to work with a farm manager anyway, isn’t it just best to get along? Most farm managers grew up on a farm or around farming. The business side of the industry is what appealed to most of them, where farmers typically prefer the agronomic side. Farmers and farm managers are really not that different. You might even like one if you get to know them.