Mission, vision and your farm’s success

What are the factors that will determine the success of your farm? Weather, soil conditions, markets and technology will all play roles. But I want to tell you that it is farm management that will be the real key to your success. The other factors will even out over the years, but the one thing that will consistently affect your performance – and the one thing you have complete control over – is how well you manage your farm.  And the starting point for great farm management is your mission and vision statements.

What are mission and vision statements?

A mission statement lays out your farm operation’s purpose. It answers the questions “Who are we?” and “Why do we exist?” A vision statement is about the future. It lays out your goals and aspirations. It answers the question “What do we want to achieve?

Why are mission and vision important?

Your mission and vision statements will do three things for you: They will illuminate, motivate and help you evaluate your farm operation.

Illuminate: Your mission statement shines a bright light on your organization and lets everyone – including you – know what you do and why you do it. Your vision statement illuminates both your destination (your goals) and the route you will take to get there. Without a vision not only will you be driving without a map but you won’t even know where you are going! Mission and vision also provide templates for decision making.  They help you know what questions to ask.

Motivate: Mission and vision statements will help understand why you do what you do.  You and your employees will work more effectively when you understand how each task you perform contributes to larger overarching goals. Mission and vision also promote teamwork by giving you and your team a common purpose.

Evaluate: The bottom line (“How profitable were we this year?”), is how most farmers evaluate their operations. But profit only tells part of the story and may not contribute to long-range thinking and planning. Regularly checking your performance against the items on your vision statement will give you a broad basis on which to evaluate your performance – and improve year after year.

Crafting your mission and vision statements

There are a lot great online resources that can help you craft your own mission and vision statements, try here, here and here.

I also invite you to see the mission and vision statements for Hebert Grain Ventures. And feel free to borrow from them – just make sure your statements are relevant to your operation.

Why it’s my mission to promote mission and vision

Why do I believe so passionately in the value of great farm management driven by mission and vision statements?  In addition to running my own 11,000-acre operation for years, I have also worked as a chartered accountant for Meyers Norris Penny. In my experience there I had the opportunity to carefully scrutinize the books and management practices of hundreds of farms.

What did I learn? It’s not the dirt that makes the difference between successful farms generating big profits and those just getting by, it is farm management practices. And while many of those successful farms did not have formal mission and vision statements they each had a clear vision of where they were going and how to get there. Adopting mission and vision statements for your farm will give you the same advantages. I encourage you to seize the opportunity and get on a mission and follow your vision!

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