Barry Ward, Ohio State University production business management lead, says farmers must monitor individual enterprise profitability, develop and monitor risk management plans, and always be on the lookout for opportunities. Here are some tips following a volatile year:

  • Be proactive to secure financing. Don't assume that one lender will meet your credit needs. Create a backup plan by cultivating local multiple lender relationships in preparation of additional needs. Some may need to increase operating lines of credit.
  • Be prepared for more paperwork. Tighter lending standards may require more financial information.
  • Manage costs. Look at all options, including growing non-biotech crops. You may have opportunities for cheaper inputs and higher returns if a local market exists.
  • Consider buying inputs in bulk or through a buying group. Purchase fertilizer tank storage and/or retrofit existing buildings for dry fertilizer storage for flexibility to buy direct from wholesalers and at off-peak periods. The same may apply to propane and diesel.
  • Evaluate flexible cash leases that may allow you to manage escalating fixed cash rents. Flex leases may keep your base rent lower, and also allow the landowner the chance to participate in revenue upswings.
  • Track financial data. Be sure your balance sheet is up to date and you have a reasonable cash-flow projection over the next 12-18 months.