Financially Weathering the Weather Woes

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Every farmer the width and breath of our beautiful country is well accustomed to the myriad of weather challenges presented across a calendar year.  With only three months of 2018 spent, Irish farmers have already experienced a Beast from the East, numerous storms, biting temperatures and prolonged wintery conditions.  In the midst of these challenges, optimism is critical as improved weather conditions will come again.  Until then, farmers must be proactive in managing their farm finances and take the necessary steps to successfully weather the weather woes!

Across the country, average grass growth rates are significantly below the expected rates, fodder stores are depleting with many areas continuing to house animals, grazing is certainly a challenge with fertilizer plans paused.  Soil and air temperatures remain below normal for March with tillage farmers reviewing their early crop planting plan.  As farmers react to these stressors, they should also proactively manage their farm finances. 

Prolonged housing of animals, additional fodder and concentrate feeding and perhaps increased labour costs represent unexpected costs for many farm systems at this time of year.  Unfortunately, cash flow planning can more often than not get lost in the midst of the day to day activity.  The preparation and active monitoring of a cash flow budget is an invaluable discipline which long continues to benefit the farm and family after the initial preparation.   A cash flow budget is a powerful tool.    As farmers guide their farm systems through this period of turbulent weather, it is critical that the financial effects of adopted technical strategies are fully understood.   Key questions requiring active monitoring:

  • What is the cost of the additional feed?
  • How long will this unexpected cost continue?
  • Has income reduced from reduced sales?  If so, this income loss should be quantified
  • Detail other unexpected recent expenses (labour, vet/medical, infrastructural damage)

Seeking help and advice from those around you is a critical element of maintaining good mental health and well being in the midst of the challenges.  Discuss farm strategies with those whose opinions you value. 

Take the time to calculate the technical and financial requirements of your farm over the coming weeks and months.  These figures should be tried and tested to explore the likely implications of increased costs and possibly reduced income in the first months of 2018.  Farm families are encouraged to discuss their financial requirements with their bank/relationship manager and explore the options where necessary.  Preparation of detail relating to income and expenditure, unexpected costs and changes from farm plans will greatly enhance and guide discussions during meetings. This allows for more open and constructive discussions.

Optimism is critical as improved weather conditions will come again.

 

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