Latest articles


‘Senior’ management

At 82, Amilcare Merlo is still planning the long-term future of the company that will be his legacy

In February I was invited to tag along with a group of dealers and their customers as they paid a visit to telehandler manufacturer Merlo’s assembly plant just outside the historic old city of Cuneo, Italy. When everyone had arrived, we stood on a balcony at the plant and watched several telehandlers go through a […] Read more


Hand going through the field

Small SWOT, big ideas

Summer Business: This exercise to determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can be a best next step for smaller farms

Over the last four years Ontario organic farmer and consultant David Cohlmeyer has completed over 20 business plans for smaller and medium-sized farms. But before doing a business plan, with updated budget, balance sheets, marketing plans and cash flow statements, Cohlmeyer works with the clients to do a SWOT analysis. “It’s a tool, a good […] Read more



650,000 blue jackets

Future Farmers of America brings more young people into agriculture, and gives them the tools to succeed

There are almost 650,000 of them spread across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and they can be found everywhere from large, urban cities to small, rural towns. Every single one of the 650,000 is also a unique individual, with their own background and interests. But there is at least one thing […] Read more


Farmer Types on tablet computer with combine harvester in the background

Build a learning farm

This summer, start your lifelong educational strategy

Farmers always have their hands full, so it’s not always easy to think that signing up for a seminar, conference or training course is a wise investment or a good use of time. The business case, however, is pretty clearly in favour of doing just that. “If you look at it purely from an economist’s […] Read more




The next big disruption in agriculture

Sometimes a shock to the system can be a very good thing

In the business world, there’s a term to describe an event that completely changes an existing industry or market. It’s called a disruptor, and it changes how we think, work, and do business. It can be argued that agriculture has gone through three major disruptions in the last century: the mechanization of farming; the arrival […] Read more



farmer loading grain

Know your farm financial numbers

Which financial ratios could you be tracking this summer to make the best decisions this fall?

Farming is a tough business. Weather risk, volatile markets, potential trade issues, input costs, and the steep investment in land and equipment mean today’s farmers must have formidable management skills to weather the storms and grasp the opportunities. In that context, your financial numbers are a lot like the numbers you get from the field, […] Read more


The role ahead for women in agriculture

Unless farm women get more power and a bigger share of the farm voice, Krysta Harden believes agriculture will fail its greatest tests, feeding the globe and reconnecting with consumers. Summer, she says, is a time for change

It begins with a little girl, her face splattered with freckles, ambling up a dirt lane on a Georgia farm where her ancestors first broke ground. On either side, rows and rows of peanuts defiantly poked through the sand to thrive under the southern sun. Inside the clapboard farmhouse at the end of the lane, […] Read more



Getting ‘lean’ for farming

Small farms like Ben Hartman’s can be among the first to boost their numbers by adopting lean, but there are lessons for all

If they have heard about “lean” management, most business managers think of it in the context of lean manufacturing, a system pioneered by Japanese car maker Toyota in the 1970s. Now, however, more farmers are successfully applying lean principles to their farms, and they’re ending up with healthier balance sheets as a result. One of […] Read more


How lean farming is a little different in Europe

The European model of “lean” farming is a little different from the North American version, and although the primary focus is still eliminating waste, lean takes a more people-focused approach and shares similarities with the principles of holistic management. “The lean approach we take is more about management and people,” says Susanne Pejstrup, a Danish […] Read more