Verified FBN Member (SD)
General

The most successful farmers and the ones that just hang on

In your area, when you think of the most successful farmers, is there something they have in common or have done well? What stands out to you that you seem to notice works well and what doesnt?

Verified FBN Member (IL)

They have older equipment and do not get caught up in needing the newest things.

Verified FBN Member
Comment deleted by author
Verified FBN Member (AR)

Must be different here.

Verified FBN Member (MT)

All depends on how many acres your farming and cattle your running

Verified FBN Member (WI)

It's a matter of making the right investments at the right time, having a plan to eliminate your inefficiency.

Verified FBN Member (SD)

Attention to detail. Anyone can do the big stuff. Its the little stuff that sets farms apart. Self educated farms that have managers and owners behind the wheel. Farms that become dependent on retailers and others for advice usually in time fail, these sources have no skin in the game. "If you have never weathered a storm in life you are more than likely not prepared for a storm in life."

Verified FBN Member (NE)

In school the lesson comes first then the test. In life it is the test and hopefully a lesson is learned...

Verified FBN Member (IL)

I think hiring the right people makes a huge difference, especially if you've got them doing a lot of skilled tasks. A "self starter" vs someone that you need to micro-manage makes big difference in productivity.

Verified FBN Member (SK, CAN)

Our area has smaller windows then a lot so basically we look at 10 day seeding horizon if you farm 5000 you should be doing 500 a day etc, until I hit 50 did most everything myself found after my oldest son came online and has learnt pretty good work ethics, would have been a lot less stressful over the years having a descent guy, so I would have to say good people working for you ( less screw ups and no more 24 hr shifts)

Verified FBN Member (IL)

A "not so serious" answer is, it seems like many of the "successful" farms in our immediate area have either sold land to the town or housing developments, and/or are close to or over age 65.

Verified FBN Member (NE)

Seems like they have another source of income to stabilize their income. Another business or they have a job too or the wife works or they do custom work, sell seed/chemical.

Verified FBN Member (SK, CAN)

To be honest it is sad but true that what you wrote has a tremendous of fact. But what does that really say about the profession of farming.

Verified FBN Member (IL)

I believe the statistic I heard from a USDA official is that 90% of farms rely on off farm income to meet living expenses.

Verified FBN Member (IA)

Success is a different ideal for everyone. For me it’s the difference between farming for money, and farming with money.

I think the biggest contributing factor to the “successful farms” is the ability to pass the farm down from generation to generation with out debt. In my case I’m the fourth generation to farm and also the forth generation to pay for the same ground over and over. Each time has its own reasons, but paying for the land again and again is what separates me from farming with money, and farming for money. Succession is the key, those who figure that out are the ones that farm with money!

Verified FBN Member (MO)

I never understood the paying over and over for land either. Seems like an arrangement for income of an agreeable amount until time of transition.

Verified FBN Member (MT)

On the paying for land over and over again I understand it's tuff to put a pencil to it. but also I've seen generations get there farms given to them and have no clue on how to manage the iron debt since everything is paid for. Just keep digging and hole and end up financially screwed later on the land. Each to your own

Verified FBN Member (SK, CAN)

Being efficient with your equipment (1 drill, 2 combines, 1 big sprayer, etc., good infrastructure- gas, power, highway access) and usually a office in the shop not just the house.

Verified FBN Member (KS)

The good planners are the most successful in my area. They have a plan in place and lock in inputs early instead of paying higher in season prices. They also are good at what knowing makes money by pencilling cost and not necessarily stuck in how it always has been done, they also don’t chase pipe dream get rich quick stuff. Not the trailer blazers to try new crops in the area and not the last either to adapt to what works. Also most of the successful farmers have on farm storage to make better grain marketing decisions.

Verified FBN Member (SK, CAN)
(edited)

The most successful around here are communal farmers. Usually 10 to 20 families in one unit. They have large families providing even more labour. They have the very best machinery and infrastructure and generally can out bid anyone for land.

Verified FBN Member (MT)

#1 They get the work done when it needs to get done.

#2 They do not spend unless they need to spend because it will cost them more if they don't. That is a tough one to learn.

#3 Successful people are good at recognizing other people strengths. Are able to work with those strengths. If that means hiring them for certain things or giving them jobs that complement their strengths.

Sure it can be a long list. Those are things I notice the most.

Verified FBN Member (SD)

Not one mention of livestock. Good or bad?

Verified FBN Member (GA)

They all inherited everything. And didn’t have you buy a single piece of equipment or land.

Verified FBN Member (MT)

The most successful one near me paid for all his stuff. Inheriting sure can help if they don’t waste the opportunity.

Verified FBN Member (KS)

In my area one of the most successful farmers built it himself. He also has a wife and son that work their butts off. They do almost all of their own repairs.

Verified FBN Member (IN)

OLD MONEY

Verified FBN Member (IA)

Age old topic, but really about how good your ancestors were at making money, teaching the next generation how to make money, and keeping the asset base consolidated.

Verified FBN Member (WA, AUS)

Go to work every day and dont stop unitl its done.

use your brains and back your own decisions, learn from them daily and dont look over the fence constantly, get your own back yard right first.

If you don't really know what right is for you then your in the wrong business.

Verified FBN Member (TX)

This is a generalization, but the most successful (I’m talking self-made not born with a silver spoon) farmers in any area are the ones that understand averages. They make above average yields and have below average inputs per bushel. They sell for an above average price and have below average per bushel machinery costs. They own an above average percentage of their land but keep a below average amount of debt.

Verified FBN Member
Comment deleted by author
Verified FBN Member (IA)

I agree with this completely!!

Verified FBN Member (MD)

All the ones I know do something different. Raise a special crop, provide some kind of service, sell ag related things.

Verified FBN Member (OH)

What your asking is multifaceted, it’s answered differently depending on where you live, so, where I live, animals that once every farm had are all but gone, dairy - gone, cattle - gone, chickens, pigs, gone. We’re just grain farming in my area. I’m a 1st generation - 3rd generation farmer, my dad left the farm but I somehow went back, I started from scratch with nothing and after 35 years and watching others this is what I’ve seen, #1 every farmer has ALWAYS had a off farm job to support the home and farm, period!

#2. It help if you married a woman that has a job AND supports you as a farmer, that means when you need to update equipment that costs more to continue to fix than updating, she’s on board.

#3 knowing that new isn’t always the best, 5 years old bought from a good farmer is just as good and saves money.

#4 you MUST be mechanically inclined, not kinda, not sorta, YOU must be!

#5 always, always save for the rainy day, always, anyone who’s been farming very long will tell you, there’s more downs than ups, in my 35 years I have only made what I call reasonably money 2 times, the first was just 10 years a go, the second is this coming fall.

#6 you need to learn to be content, don’t look at what anyone else has, you DON’T know what the true cost was for them, and I’m not talking about money, be happy for them, be happy and content with yourself, always.

Now, the guy that have the nicest and have grown the most, they are the 3rd and 4th generation and some 5th generation farmers, I know a few, they’ve paid a price that I wouldn’t want to, so, yah, I’ll stay content right where I am.

Even those guys have had off farm jobs, sometimes 2 jobs, it’s the price they are willing to pay. I’ve always had an off farm job.

Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Verified FBN Member (IN)

I second that.

Very good advise!

Verified FBN Member (MI)

Very well put. Excellent answer

Verified FBN Member (SK, CAN)

I hate to admit that you are 100% right and by no means do i disagree with that. But that’s really not very positive situation for farming to be in. These young guys you see on TikTok all make it look so fancy but realistically they are riding the coattails of someone else’s life time of work. Or are hired hands so remember when you see this it’s not what it seems.

Verified FBN Member
Response deleted by author
Verified FBN Member (OK)

I think it was Kansas State that did research on this. Know your numbers.

Verified FBN Member (ND)

Playing with old money makes things a lot better

Verified FBN Member
Comment deleted by author
Verified FBN Member (IL)

I am 4th generation and my daughter will be 5th. Inheritance is not everything, the key is to invest your money and not just spend your money. Look at everything as a investment, not just I would like buy that. My best investments have been real-estate, I figure I can rent or buy old equipment to get me by for the immediate time. Also look at local successful business and copy them. I learned all this from my dad before he passed, and his estate was worth more than I ever thought. Now my job is to pass these lessons on to the next generation, my daughter.

Verified FBN Member (MO)

This all depends on what you define as successful. Lifelong farmer down the road still operates run mostly older equipment has minimal overhead. But isn’t efficient, makes half ass decisions and the crops show it. Plant every field straight row just right up and over terraces every pass. Very few acres rented His farm will run till he can’t do it any more. Another local runs late model equipment, farms 8-10,000 acres, lives life to the fullest. But leaves a lot on the table. Pays high rent, own several thousand acres owes a fortune. Hires who ever will get in the cab and whatever goes, minimal maintenance.has a son that’s heavily involved but will likely sell equipment when dad is gone. Longevity of is operation is most like till his last breathe. Another guy here farms 7-8k acres, he’s very conscious of every penny spent, maintains every acre pays moderate rent. Owns several acres, has really good hired hands, late model equipment, runs a construction business as well. Has a top hand that handles a lot of the day to day and all of the maintenance and as many of the repairs he can on all equipment and is very conscious of cost, who also farms 500 acres and has a cow calf operation. No funny business, very efficient. His son wants to be partners with top hand when that time comes. So his operation could very well continue beyond him. These are 3 very different operations that will likely survive to current operators retirement. 1 has no one really to take over, 2 has a son that doesn’t really want to farm, 3 has a son that run a seed business but wants to parter with the hired guy that knows the operation, has the skill, drive and interest to keep an operation going. Bottom line your only as successful as you are efficient in my opinion, there are a lot of views of what successful looks like. To me Farmer 3 is the successful one he’s took the time to groom his replacements with plenty of time to weather them in and show them how to make sound decisions.

Verified FBN Member (WI)

Good thoughts. I appreciate everyone that responded to this subject. I am coming from the side of looking for an opportunity to farm, and also learning from a successful farm manager. Running multiple business takes a lot of time, and if management isn't what it should be, you end up spinning your wheels, just love that tractor when an FBN page is waiting to load!

Welcome! You only have 2 free posts remaining.

Our FBN ® Community Forum is exclusive to . To become a Verified Farmer, sign up for your free account and gain access to our secure online farming community.