Success during Agricultural Uncertainty

Farmers seeking agricultural success are no strangers to facing adversity. Today, growers find themselves amidst a challenging landscape characterized by uncertainty, low commodity prices, and escalating expenses. However, amidst these trials, one thing remains constant: the unwavering resilience of the agricultural industry.

Conterra Southwest relationship manager, Trisha Lillie, a seasoned expert in agricultural lending, emphasizes the importance of adaptability and preparedness in navigating these turbulent times. “A challenging market creates success opportunities for those who are willing to adapt and position themselves to be able to act,” noted Lillie.

A key to weathering the storm is knowing your operation inside out. Understanding the intricacies of your farm or ranch allows you to identify potential areas of concern and address them proactively. “The best advice for success I can give clients is to know their operations, address concerns before they become a problem, and communicate with their partners and lenders,” continued Lillie. By taking a proactive approach, growers can mitigate risks before they escalate into significant problems, thus safeguarding the stability and profitability of their operations.

Achieving success through comprehensive and ongoing operational analysis:

  • Financial Analysis: Conducting regular financial assessments to understand income and expenditure patterns, profitability margins, and cash flow dynamics. This involves keeping detailed records of expenses, revenues, and investments to gain insights into financial health and identify areas for improvement.
  • Production Analysis: Monitoring crop yields, livestock performance, and production efficiency metrics to assess productivity levels and identify potential bottlenecks or inefficiencies. This may involve tracking input usage, crop rotation strategies, and livestock management practices to optimize production outcomes.
  • Risk Assessment: Evaluating potential risks and vulnerabilities inherent in farming operations, such as weather-related risks, market volatility, and regulatory changes. By conducting risk assessments, farmers can develop success strategies to mitigate these risks and minimize their impact on operations.
  • Environmental Analysis: Assessing the environmental impact of farming activities, including soil health, water usage, and biodiversity conservation. This involves implementing sustainable farming practices, such as conservation tillage, crop rotation, and integrated pest management, to promote environmental stewardship and long-term sustainability.
  • Market Analysis: Monitoring market trends, commodity prices, and consumer demand to identify opportunities for diversification and value-added activities. This may include exploring niche markets, direct-to-consumer sales channels, and value-added product offerings to enhance profitability and market resilience.

Moreover, fostering transparent communication with partners and lenders is essential for success. In times of uncertainty, maintaining open dialogue ensures everyone is on the same page and can work together to find solutions to challenges as they arise. Lillie underscored the value of collaboration, highlighting the importance of leveraging the expertise and support of industry partners.

Amidst market volatility, understanding your breakeven point is paramount. This fundamental metric serves as a guiding light, enabling growers to make informed decisions about their operations. By knowing their breakeven point, growers can assess profitability, evaluate investment opportunities, and make timely adjustments to their business strategies.

Breakeven point analysis of production costs and revenue streams:

  • Identify Variable Costs: Variable costs are expenses that fluctuate based on production levels, such as seen, fertilizer, pesticide, labor, fuel, and utilities. Growers need to accurately calculate these costs for each crop or livestock enterprise.
  • Calculate Fixed Costs: Fixed costs are expenses that remain constant regardless of production levels, such as land rent or mortgage payments, machinery depreciation, insurance, taxes, and overhead expenses. And growers must calculate their total fixed costs on an annual basis.
  • Determine Total Costs: Total costs are the sum of variable and fixed costs. By adding variable and fixed costs together, growers can calculate their total production costs for each crop or livestock enterprise.
  • Estimate Revenue: Revenue is the income generated from selling crops, livestock, or other agricultural products. Growers need to estimate their expected revenue based on projected yields, market prices, and sales volumes.
  • Calculate Breakeven Point: The breakeven point is the level of production at which total revenue equals total costs, resulting in neither profit nor loss. Growers can calculate their breakeven point by dividing total costs by expected revenue per unit of output (e.g., per bushel of grain or per head of livestock).
  • Analyze Profitability: Once the breakeven point is determined, growers can assess profitability by comparing actual production levels and revenues to the breakeven point. If actual revenue exceeds total costs, the operation is profitable. If actual revenue falls below total costs, the operation is experiencing a loss.
  • Make Informed Decisions: Armed with knowledge of their breakeven point, growers can make informed decisions about production levels, input usage, pricing strategies, and investment opportunities. They can adjust their business success strategies accordingly to maximize profitability and minimize financial risk.

Embracing proactive measures is key to navigating the challenges of today’s agricultural landscape. Whether it is implementing cost-saving measures, diversifying revenue streams, or exploring new market opportunities, initiative-taking growers are better positioned to adapt to changing circumstances and capitalize on emerging trends.

Resilience is the cornerstone of agricultural success. By embracing change, maintaining open communication, and staying proactive, growers can not only weather the storm but also emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before. In the face of adversity, it is this spirit of resilience that drives the agricultural industry forward, ensuring its continued growth and prosperity for generations to come.

Conterra Ag Capital is a private lender, focused exclusively on agriculture. A native to the region, Trisha Lillie works directly with farmers, ranchers, and lending partners throughout the Southwest. Conterra lending experts are strategically positioned nationwide, providing flexible farm and ranch loans, crop operating loans, development and alternative lending to America’s farmers, ranchers and agribusiness. 

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. While we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented, Conterra Ag Capital and its affiliates make no representation or warranty as to the completeness, correctness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information contained in this article. You should always consult a qualified financial advisor, tax professional, or other qualified professional for advice on your specific financial situation.

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