We’ve been hearing the word “austerity” in the media for quite a while now. Whether it be issues in the
EU, or right here in Canada (Quebec), it’s become a “buzz-word” as of late.
Merriam-Webster defines austerity as “a simple and plain quality; a situation in which there is not much
money and it is spent only on things that are necessary; austerities: things that are done to live in a
simple and plain way.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/austerity
Based on that definition, I like what that word represents. Maybe that’s because I grew up on a small
mixed farm in Saskatchewan in the 80’s. There wasn’t a lot to be had that wasn’t “necessary.” Don’t get
me wrong, we never went without the necessities, but I wore $20 running shoes from Army & Navy, not
Nike Air. I guess I was raised under austerity.
There was an article published in Country Guide this spring titled “Have Higher Farm Incomes Changed
the Way You Think?” It opens by describing the near perfect correlation of rising farm income to rising
new farm equipment sales. The fourth paragraph reads; “So the question is, do those periods of high
incomes create a kind of euphoria or recklessness that induces farm managers to make longterm financial decisions that could seriously reduce profits in future years, especially if revenues
I think we know the answer to that question. And, so what now?
Well, who is considering an austerity plan for their farm?
Remember, austerity is spending only on things that are necessary. It’s easy for us a humans to blur the
lines between “nice to have” and “need to have” because we allow emotion to interfere with our
You need to maximize yield in the most efficient way possible to produce at the lowest Unit Cost
of Production your farm can provide. An Agrologist can help and should prove his/her value
- Cash Flow.
You need positive cash flow to meet debt and lease obligations, pay for inputs, land rent, wages,
etc, etc, etc. Grain marketing is often where the best gains can be had, or can be lost. Diligent
marketing with quality information (or lack thereof) can make or break any farm.
- Above Average Management.
As you read in Growing Farm Profits Weekly Issue #17, average management was sufficient in
the boom years, but it won’t get you through the next business cycle. Even above average
managers find confidence in having a business advisor offer independent, unbiased advice on
current situations, strategic plans, and risk management.
The list of “nice to have” could fill more pages that you’d care to read, or than I’d care to write. The list
of NEEDS is not exhaustive either, but in the spirit of austerity, those are the big 3 that NEED focus
(pardon the pun.)
Production alone will not keep every farm afloat through the next business cycle. Are you able to
elevate your management abilities (no matter what level you’re currently at) to offer your farm its best
chance to thrive (or at least survive?)
Somebody shared a quote on Twitter that I read today: “Successful people are like a turtle on a fence
post. They didn’t get there by themselves.” -Michael Pinball Clemons
Do you have an arsenal of trusted advisors working for you to ensure you do everything it takes to be
Will your austerity plan be cutting the right costs or just the easy ones?
From the Home Quarter
It’s been said “You can’t shrink your way to greatness.” When it comes to cost cutting in an effort to
preserve cash, there is a wrong way to do it. Similar to the thinking of “good debt and bad debt,” there
are costs that should be cut, and costs that must not be cut. Interestingly enough, my phone has been
ringing lately with the voice on the other end saying, “Things are looking tough, I can’t afford to make
any mistakes. I need your help now more than ever.”
That’s what I’m here for, glad you called.
If you want help with building an austerity plan or just guidance on daily strategic decisions, call me or send an email.