Nov. 30 2017 07:00 AM

Make it a regular habit to review the business and personal goals of your farm family.

Over the past few months, we have been contemplating the direction in which our family and farm need to be heading. We decided to bring in an outside advisor to review four years of financials and correlate them with our DHIA records over the same period.

We reviewed each family member and staff member’s roles, the history of our farm, and discussed what was most important to each family member working on the farm. This process produced a “report card” for our farm.

There were no huge surprises from the report; we generally knew our strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps more than anything, it helped us identify some “low hanging fruit” that would be the easiest tasks to work on first. It also helped us to format some financial reports that will help us decide if we can afford some of the changes to our operation we are considering.

Our consultant asked each of us what was most important. Every member of our family talked about quality of life as being the most important aspect of our lives. We all agreed that adequate time off, along with flexibility of working hours, for family and staff was as important as the financial aspect of the business.

Our land base is limited, and very few acres of tillable land are likely to become available nearby to purchase. For this reason, we talked about how best to manage the acreage we own to achieve maximum productivity.

I believe doing this review by an outside facilitator of our business, as well as our business and personal goals, has been a worthwhile endeavor for our family. It affirmed our direction and gave us a snapshot of what our financials look like compared to our peers. I would suggest to every family farm that you sit down annually and discuss each family member’s goals in business and their goals personally. Bring in an independent consultant if needed.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.