Folks from across Canada and the U.S. who were at Ag Days in Brandon earlier this year had the opportunity to listen to a variety of different speakers during the event and Redfern Farm Services did just that!
The following is a look into Kevin Hursh’s presentation, titled, “How to be a successful medium-sized farm.”
He can be described as a man who wears many hats, but one thing is for certain: Kevin Hursh understands what it takes to run a successful medium-sized farm.
So… what exactly is a medium-sized farm?
“Often times, people in the grain industry refer to acres when measuring a person’s farm,” said Hursh, an agrologist, who along with his wife Marlene, own and operate Hursh Farms Inc. near Cabri in southwestern Saskatchewan, as well as Hursh Consulting & Communications based in Saskatoon. “I would suggest for purposes of this presentation, it’s really more important what your gross income is …
“That’s a better measure of your size of farm than how many acres,” continued Hursh, who also writes a weekly newspaper column for The Western Producer and serves as editor of the bi-monthly magazine AgriSuccess.
Would a gross income of $500,000 be the right amount to say that’s where a medium-sized farm starts? It doesn’t really matter, Hursh says. He said his goal during his Ag Days presentation was to provide value and something to think about whether you’re a small, medium or large operation.
So what are the challenges of owning a medium-sized operation? Well, for starters, he wished land was offered in smaller chunks.
“…More and more I’m seeing land offered; here’s the deal, buy 10 quarters (of land), buy 15 quarters (of land), buy 36 quarters of land, we want to bid on the whole schmeer. Well, if you’re a smaller farm operator, maybe you’d be interested in a quarter, maybe you’d be interested in a half, maybe you’d be able to pay a premium for that if it’s adjacent to your operation,” Hursh explained.
But medium-sized farms are in no position to step out and purchase 10 quarters at a time, he says.
“Often times you’re seeing parcels being offered in larger chunks which makes it very difficult to get at expansion.”
Another challenge is that it’s hard to justify some of the new technology that’s being offered to growers nowadays – especially when you’re operating on a tighter budget.
“When you’re dealing with a smaller acreage and a smaller cash flow, that makes it difficult to do,” said Hursh, whose farm consists of 1,500 acres, which he calls “small potatoes in southwest Saskatchewan.”
The advantages of a medium-sized farm include the opportunity to be more “hands-on” with all facets of the operation, he says. Hursh says there are instances with larger scale operations where the owner doesn’t do much tractor time or combine time if any.
“They’re driving around in a truck making sure everything else is running and they’re on the phone and they’re on their email and they’re managing,” he said. “Most of us didn’t sign up for that. Most of us understand the management and want to do the management but we want to be more hands-on in the operation and make sure things are done correctly. That’s possible with a more moderate-sized operation.”
He says mid-level farms can also be more open to new opportunities and can generate savings from land that’s contiguous.
“I think the opportunity exists if you’re not pushing a large scale to be a little more creative and look for more value-added opportunities,” he said. “There’s also significant savings and time to be had from not having to run 20 miles this way and 30 miles that way and then 15 miles the other way because you’ve got parcels of land all over to create your large farm. Most of the people who are small to medium sized may have land that’s more continuous and more adjacent and certainly that’s our case and we’re able to make some equipment adjustments because we don’t have to run long distances to spray a half or quarter section that’s away from everything else.”
For Hursh’s entire Ag Days presentation on YouTube, click here.
This was just a glimpse into what the speakers at Ag Days each year can provide – and Redfern Farm Services encourages folks to check out as many speakers as possible during Ag Days as they ALL provide information that can only help YOU, the grower!
Make sure to follow Hursh on Twitter: @KevinHursh1
Redferns provides the widest industry selection of seed, fertilizers and crop protection products to customers from our locations, as well as a diverse selection of other goods and services. Custom application services, into field product deliveries, fertilizer application equipment rentals, along with comprehensive soil testing programs, agronomy support and product recommendations are all provided by our professionals.