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Successful farm management

Canadian farmers continually demonstrate strength and innovation in dealing with the factors that impact farming today.


November 29, 2007
By Top Crop Manager

Topics

Canadian farmers continually demonstrate strength and innovation in dealing
with the factors that impact farming today. Fred and Irene Koskamp, who farm
in Ontario, are like others in their desire for immediate solutions to implement
in their farming operation. The Koskamps find ongoing education and keeping
up with current trends necessary to keep their planning and management skills
polished. They say workshops have enhanced their knowledge and expertise of
agriculture.

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Fred and Irene Koskamp believe employee management to be a key in
their business plan.

Many producers participate in programs and workshops that offer an opportunity
to refine their skills and learn new tactics to make their operation more successful.
Gaining insight into all areas of strategic planning, financial management,
human resource management, environmental policies, and forging alliances with
industry experts and other progressive producers are essential components of
farm management. Whether farms are struggling with the transfer of the family
business to the next generation or risk management, there are workshops available
to help farmers take their operations to the next level and dramatically improve
results.

The Koskamps, with Fred's brother Henry and his wife Ingeborg, operate a dairy
farm with 350 cows milking, plus 50 dry cows and 400 replacement animals. There
are four full-time employees and three part-time employees involved in livestock
duties, while all field work and harvest of haylage and silage from their 1000
acres is jobbed out to a local custom operator.

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One concept in particular continues to stand out with Fred and Irene regarding
their workshop experience – 'Is your money working for you?' "We keep
asking ourselves this question: Is our money working for us?" remarks Fred.
"This concept was introduced to us in the Advanced Farm Manager program
through Farm Credit Canada. We look for dead assets sitting on our farm all
the time, like unused equipment that can be sold to inject money back into our
cash flow."

Another important issue that most producers face, other than financial management,
is overseeing human resources. Dealing with employees can be a challenge. The
Koskamps have successfully implemented standard operating procedures over the
past year and are looking at managing and developing a plan for grooming business
successors. "I still keep the key points I learned from Advanced Farm Manager
on the wall in my office to remind me of different approaches to becoming a
more efficient producer," comments Fred.

 
A new calf-house is the latest building addition.

Responsibilities are clearly defined as each herdsman is trained to handle
milking chores in a consistent manner because this will reduce stress on the
cows at milking time. Newly calved cows and treated cows are milked by one of
the family members or head herdsman so that they can ensure the milk is diverted
from the marketed milk. "This also relieves our employees' concerns about
any liability of milk from an antibiotic treated cow being marketed," notes
Irene.

Having producers understand agricultural financing and management is important.
Programs and workshops are available to help Canadian farmers expand their skills
and find new avenues to expand their businesses.

There is no one particular approach to a successful operation, but arming yourself
with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a competitive environment will benefit
you and the industry. -30-

Farm Credit Canada offers Advanced Farm Manager and other programs and workshops
of a variety of topics and length across Canada as part of their AgriSuccess
program. For more information on these workshops, call 1-888-332-3301 or visit
www.AgriSuccess.ca