5 Conversations to Have with Your Farm Operator

5 Conversations to Have with Your Farm Operator

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5 Conversations to Have with Your Farm Operator

Part of what we do as farm managers is work to keep an open dialogue with our farm operators so we can stay up-to-date with our properties. However, if you don’t have a farm manager, it’s up to you as a landowner to have those conversations. But if you don’t have an agriculture background, it can be difficult to know what conversations are critical.

Below we have put together a list of 5 things that you should discuss with your farm operator so you can have a better understanding of what’s happening with your farm.

1. Issues on the Farm

Sometimes half the battle is just determining where the problems are. Ask your operator ‘what are the issues on my farm?’. This is a simple question that can give you a lot of insight into what’s happening with your farm. Talking about the problem areas on your property also gives you an opportunity to gain a better understanding of your farm while simultaneously showing your operator that you care and want to help.

2. Fertilizer & Fertility Programs

As a landowner it’s important for you to know what’s being put on your farm. Ask your farm operator questions about their fertility practices and what kind of fertilizer they are using on your property. It’s also a good idea to ask questions about the soil health of your farm. Find out when the last soil test was done and ask for a copy of the results of those tests. If you would like to learn more about soil health and understanding soil tests, please reach out to one of our farmland professionals.

3. Financial Stability

Is your operator financially stable? Sometimes this can be a difficult conversation to have but it’s crucial that you do. The level of risk and volatility in farming has been increasing and the future is full of uncertainty. You want to work with an operator who manages risk with a strong marketing plan and crop insurance. If you are working with a new operator, ask to obtain financial statements and references from lenders who have a history with the operator.

4. Plan for the Future

If you have an operator that’s getting close to retirement, it’s important to setup a plan. Do they have someone in mind to take over the operation? How long are they planning to stay farming? Again, this can be an uncomfortable discussion, but as a landowner you need to know who will take care of your farm when the time comes. If neither of you have a plan in place, it’s never too late to create one.

5. Ask for Documentation

Are you receiving copies of fertilizer bills, yield maps, and insurance records from you operator?

  • Having tangible evidence of what’s happening with your farm can help you stay in the loop while you’re away.
  • To the right, are some documents that you can ask to receive copies of from your farm operator.

Here are some suggested documents that we think are good for landowners to have copies of:

  1. Yield Maps
  2. Yield History
  3. Soil Tests
  4. Copies of Fertilizer Bills/Receipts for Repairs
  5. Planting Maps

We encourage you to engage in regular conversation with your farm operator. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to one of our Hertz Farmland Professionals at the office location closest to you.


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