Conference season is upon us, and joining the virtual ranks of meetings is Farm Management Canada’s (FMC) Ag Excellence conference. The virtual space can provide a lot more opportunity both to virtual speakers, and to people who otherwise can’t physically make it.

Joining RealAgriculture’s Bernard Tobin to discuss the core concepts of the event is FMC executive director Heather Watson.

Among attendees of the conference are farmers who are keen on brushing up on their farm management skills. Farm business management skills are still a bit under-appreciated, and under-subscribed to by farmers, as there’s been a decrease in farm business management skills over the last five years — only 21 per cent have a formal business plan, and only eight per cent have a transition plan.

FMC was formed just about 30 years ago after a farm crisis in the early 90s.

“The reason why I talk about the history of the organizations is I think it’s important to remember the context of where we (FMC) were brought out,” says Watson. “After the crisis they thought, shoot, that didn’t go so well, a lot of farms struggled, a lot farms, we lost.”

Watson thinks that being in the middle of a pandemic could be cause to think of how farms can be managed better.  Today’s generation of farmers might not necessarily remember that initial crisis that brought about the organization, which has resulted in a decline in farm business management practices, says Watson.

“There were times that weren’t so good, and I think relatively speaking business has been good, and when business is good we don’t look at how it can be better, we just appreciate the fact that it’s good and try and keep rolling,” Watson says.

Farms that utilize the services of an advisor are even more likely to implement business management practices, which pays. Transition planning, communicating the future of the farm, budgeting, and benchmarking practices double when a farm works with an advisor on a regular basis. The list of tasks that an advisor can help with is extensive — not everything on a farm has to be done in-house.

“We have a mantra that we say: do your best and hire the rest — to really allow you think about what it is you like to do, what it is that gets you out of bed in the morning,” says Watson.

Catch the full conversation below:

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