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The recent 2007 Pacific Agriculture Show was more than an opportunity to showcase innovative new technologies; it was also a chance to gain revealing insight into which key issues are top-of-mind with B.C. producers. Meyers Norris Penny (MNP) Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors helped gauge the pulse of producers through their second annual MNP Pacific Ag Show Survey.
A total of 144 producers shared their opinions on topics ranging from individual operations to the overall state of the ag industry. According to the results, B.C. farmers are tremendously optimistic about the year ahead: 96 per cent expect their farm to perform the same or even better than last year.
When asked what they anticipate the greatest opportunity for their farm to be, 40 per cent of respondents identified operational efficiencies, while 38 per cent indicated expanding to new markets.
The trend toward expansion reflects the size of survey respondents’ farm operations: 41 per cent have farm operations with annual gross revenues in excess of $500,000.
According to Terry Betker, MNP’s director of primary producers, a potential correlation exists between farm growth and respondents’ choice of operational efficiencies as a significant opportunity in 2007.
“In talking with farmers in B.C., Western Canada and even the U.S., I’m hearing a strong emphasis on increasing operational efficiencies. The more efficiently someone can plant and harvest a crop, the better,” says Betker.
“This involves introspection and looking at how you can operate better. But what’s too often neglected is scanning the external environment to better understand how your operation will look two to five years down the road.”
Betker asserts the benefits of thinking strategically can not be overemphasized: “The axiom that businesses outgrow management is particularly true in agriculture; as farms grow, they tend to become focussed on operational aspects, and neglect the importance of long-term strategic planning.”
Producers’ willingness to take advantage of new opportunities or address key challenges is encouraging: 68 per cent of respondents said they would develop a plan either on their own or with the assistance of an outside advisor.
Betker points out that proper succession planning is equally important to a farm operation’s long-term success. In MNP’s 2006 Pacific Ag Show Survey, only 22 per cent of respondents stated they had a written succession plan, while 30 per cent were unsure whether the next generation would be able to farm in the same location.
According to this year’s results, succession planning still isn’t viewed as being a major issue facing farmers: only 19 per cent of respondents considered succession to be the greatest challenge facing their farm in the next 12 months.
Betker is quick to remind farmers that planning how their farms will be looked after in the future goes hand-in-hand with the decisions being made today: “Every farm existing today is a result of the management decisions made 10 to 15 years ago. What decisions are you making today that will determine what your farm looks like in the future?”
For more information, please contact Terry Betker, Director, Agriculture - Industry & Government at 1.877.500.0795 or your local MNP advisor.
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