Some farmers are perfectly content with their current number of acres. Others need to add acres so they can remain competitive or perhaps allow a family member to come back to the farm. Before adding acres, it’s important to make sure those additional acres are profitable and obtainable given the farm operation’s working capital and ability to borrow.
Are you ready to add acres?
The fact that you want to add acres doesn’t necessarily mean that you can or should grow your operation. You may not be ready from a financial, operations, management, staff, or other standpoint. A farm needs to have certain processes, procedures, people, and systems in place before additional acres can be successful. A strong foundation is a must, or as we like to say at FamilyFarms, “a farm needs to get better before it gets bigger.”
What's your lane?
Many farms have been blessed in that acres have often come to them, but that simply has not happened that much over the last 10 years. This may change a little with the current state of the ag economy, but, generally speaking, the time of acres just coming to farmers is largely over.
That means farmers must seek acres they want. There are a limited number of ways to get land:
- Rent from individual landowners
- Rent from land investors
- Rent from a farm management company
- Merge with another operation
- Buy out another operation
- Take over acres from a producer who is exiting due to retirement or financial distress
- Work in collaboration with another operation
Many farm operators have commented, “I’d take acres from any of those sources.” Yes, of course you would. But when it comes to seeking acres, you cannot effectively pursue all of these sources. If the amount of time devoted to seeking acres was split evenly across each of the eight sources above, it would amount to minutes per month, which simply won’t allow you to accomplish much.
Such a shotgun approach will not be as effective as a rifle approach: pick just two or three of these land sources, and focus your efforts there. In other words, pick a lane (or two, but not more than three) and don’t worry about the others. You will likely still take acres from any and all sources that come to you, but your outward efforts toward locating potential land opportunities should be focused on the specific targets you choose.
How should you choose your lane?
Which one, two, or three should you pick? Choose the ones that you think have the most potential in your area and that fit your philosophy. Considerations can be different for each farm and each area of the country. Some areas do not have many (or any) farm management companies. Some do not have investors interested in buying land in their area. Others may be philosophically against merging with another operation. How you choose to pursue additional acreage will depend on your priorities and your understanding of local conditions.
So, do some homework, and give this some thought. Pick a lane, and then drive that lane. Good luck to you, your family, and your farm.
Would you like help improving your farm operation? FamilyFarms Group works with medium and large farms to create individualized strategies for success through training, consulting, and networking. Learn more about our solutions here, or click the link below to visit our corporate office and experience first hand some of the benefits membership provides.