Interesting and informative blog posts on farmers and ranchers from US Farm Data.

Think of the people you do business with and chances are all of these people have a lot in common. When farmers choose who they will do business with, these people also are likely to have many of the same traits in common.

Understanding what traits farmers are looking for in a salesperson will allow you to better connect with your target market of farmers. If you aren’t sure what farmers are looking for in a salesperson, here are some ideas:

1. Likeability. This may seem vague but what it really means is that you let a farmer get to know you before you try to sell him or her something. By the same token, farmers also want the people they work with to like them, as well. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to really get to know them.

2. Attentiveness. Farmers have a lot of irons in the fire so it is important for them to know that the person trying to sell them something understand exactly what they need. What they really don’t want is someone who only thinks they know what they need. The lesson here is to pay attention when a farmer speaks and don’t pretend to know what they need before they tell you.

3. Straightforwardness. If you tell a farmer you can deliver something by the end of the week, it better be there by the end of the week. In the event there is a problem, don’t try to pass the buck or make excuses. Further, never overpromise just to land a sale.

4. Dependability. Don’t be so accommodating that it appears as if you have nothing else to do and no other customers. As far as possible, however, be there for the farmers you work with so they know they can depend on you.

5. An expert in their field. If you are in Ag sales you better know what you are talking about. If there is something you don’t know, however, don’t try to fake it. Farmers would rather have you admit you are unsure about something and that you plan to do your research and get back to them. Farmers don’t expect you to know everything but they do want to know you are working toward that goal!

Finally, never try to be someone you aren’t. If a particular farmer really doesn’t want to work with you, you are probably better off without that farmer.

Let’s face it, some of us look at the glass half full, others look at it half empty. Farmers do a little of both. In truth, farmers are probably neither optimists nor pessimists but rather realists. This means they are hopeful about the future but understand that things don’t always go as planned.

When deciding on how to frame your marketing message to farmers, then, it is important to ask yourself a few important questions.

1. What problem—or potential problem—will my product solve? Controlling diseases or killing weeds, for example, are huge issues for farmers. Make sure farmers know that your product will help make their life easier because it will take care of a specific problem. By letting farmers know that you understand the type and scope of a particular problem they face they will be more likely to believe you have the solution to that problem, as well.

2. How will my product make a farmer’s operation better? Farmers rightly believe that their operation has the potential to thrive and be exceptionally successful. Share this enthusiasm with them by touting your product or service as a means to ensuring the success of their operation. For example, if you sell a product that promotes weight gain in cattle, make sure you touch on the many advantages of healthy and well-fed cattle.

3. Does my product promote long-term success? Farmers are well aware that the road to success has its share of bumps. Before they decide to purchase a product you offer, they will want to know how that product will help them in the long term. Farmers are leery of marketers who promote easy and instant solutions. Instead, offer farmers a realistic timeline for how long your product will take to work. Patience is one of farmers’ many virtues and they have no problem being patient with a product if they feel it will be worth the wait.

4. Is it worth the investment? Farmers understand that they have to spend money to make money. Keep in mind, however, that if you are selling something that involves a significant investment—land, equipment or buildings—quality and durability are something farmers will never compromise on.

It’s no secret that farmers aren’t impulse shoppers. Therefore, if you want to successfully market to farmers then what you are selling had better solve a problem, make his or her operation better or promote long-term success.

Farmers, like most people, want to protect their income as the deadline for filing taxes approaches. One of the most important ways for farmers to do this is to understand the best ways to decrease their tax liability.

Knowing that you need to decrease your tax liability and actually doing it are two drastically different things, however. In order to decrease your tax liability you must understand just what are considered allowable expenses and how to report those expenses.

In most cases, farmers are considered by the IRS to be self-employed. Therefore, they will report income on Form 1040 and then file the schedules that go along with that form. Self-employed farmers, or single-entity limited liability corporations, report income on Schedule F. By reporting income on Form 1040, farmers are able to use the cash method of accounting as opposed to the accrual method. The cash method means that expenses and income are claimed in real time.

The tax code for farmers is different than other businesses in that it incentivizes farmers for investing back into their farms. While most farmers are aware of how the tax code works, many times it remains in their best interest to work with an accountant who is familiar with the specific issues that surround farming operations. Such a tax professional also will be able to check and double check that farmers do not overpay in taxes.
One of the most surprising issues farmers face when filing taxes is proving that they are, in fact, operating a farm. There are various provisions in the federal tax code that define what is considered a qualified farm. To make matters even more complicated, state and local definitions of what exactly a farm is may vary, as well.

What follows are some general guidelines that ensure a farm is considered as such:

  • It shows a profit every three to five years.
  • It is operated in a business-like manner and the farmer who owns it is knowledgeable of farming practices.
  • Farmers list personal money and farm money separately.
  • Farm work and activities are well-documented.
  • Proof is provided that any losses are due to legitimate reasons.

These guidelines, while specific, are not meant to penalize farmers. Rather, they are in place to protect legitimate farmers. In fact, if anything, the tax code is written to benefit farmers and decrease their tax burden.

You might not know it to see all the snow still on the ground in some parts of the country, but spring is upon us. And as farmers ready themselves for long days, they first should make sure that their equipment and machinery is tuned up and ready to go.

Not only will keeping farm equipment well maintained help to extend its life, it also will make sure that everyone who uses that equipment remains safe. What follows is a list of what farmers need to check before they put their equipment to work.

  1. Lights and flashers. Flashers and turn signals need to be tested to make sure they are working correctly. Emblems need to be clean and any worn down ones replaced.
  2. Shields and guards. Check your PTO drive-line shields. Shields should turn freely and independently of the drive line. Further, to ensure maximum protection, the drive-line shields, tractor master shields and corresponding implement shields need to be in place.
  3. Hydraulic systems and mechanical locks. Check all hoses, fittings and seals and replace worn pieces.
  4. Tires. Check that all tires are inflated properly and that bearings are properly lubricated.
  5. Sprayer and planters. Hoses, valves, fittings and all other components must be free of leaks. Any tanks should have tight covers so spills are avoided.
  6. Hitch pins. The locking hitch pins on tractors and implements must be checked to guarantee that they are secure and in good working order.
  7. Steps and platforms. Always keep equipment platforms and steps clean so that no one slips and falls when entering, exiting or standing on equipment.

No matter what make or model of equipment you own, make sure you are familiar with the owner’s manual. This ensures that you will have all the information necessary for its particular service and maintenance requirements.

Getting your tractors and other equipment ready for spring doesn’t need to take a long time but it will pay off in the long run. After all, there is nothing worse than being slowed down by a breakdown after work has begun in the fields and around the farm.
Finally, it is always a good idea to have a strong relationship with your equipment dealer. That way if there is a major issue with your equipment you have someone to turn to for help instead of scrambling to find someone at the last minute.

One of the great things about farmers is that what you see is what you get. Most farmers have little interest in trying to project a certain image just to impress others.

This straightforward approach carries over into the type of people farmers want to do business with. Almost without exception, farmers are not taken in by smooth-talking salespeople trying to push a product or service they don’t want or need.

When creating content to connect, educate and inspire farmers, it is important that you don’t try to make your content too slick. Instead, give farmers what they really want-straightforward information that shows them how to solve a problem, learn something new or make their operation more efficient.

Another important aspect of content marketing in the Ag world is to remember that farmers expect you to show up on time, even online. Therefore, no matter what your content marketing strategy, it needs to reach farmers on a regular basis. Farmers will appreciate your efforts and will reward those efforts by paying attention to what you have to say and coming back for more.

While building a content marketing strategy that allows you to connect with farmers may seem overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. What follows is a general outline of an effective content marketing strategy for your Ag-based business:

  1. Find out where the farmers you are trying to attract hangout online. You can publish all the content in the world but if your target audience of farmers can’t find that content it won’t matter.
  2. Decide what you are trying to achieve through your content marketing efforts. Do you want to be seen as a thought leader in the Ag industry? Do you want to provide support? Be sure and narrow your goals down to a few key objectives. If you try to do too much it will dilute your efforts.
  3. Decide how you will measure success. Shares? Web traffic?
  4. Stick to a schedule. Make sure you post your content regularly and on the same channels. Sticking to a schedule means farmers will always know where to find you.
  5. Manage your expectations. If you expect immediate and overwhelming results from your content marketing strategy you are likely to be disappointed and give up too soon. Content marketing takes time, but when done consistently and correctly, it is sure to pay off.

Farmers are collecting more data than ever and experts in the field of agricultural technology say this is a good thing. Ask farmers and you may get a more lukewarm response, however. While it is true that many farmers are collecting a great deal of data, many are unsure what to do with that data.

For years farmers have been told that data collection will help them run their farms more efficiently and allow them to make better business decisions. This may be true, but only if farmers know how to accurately analyze the data they collect.

Many farmers are reluctant to hand over their data to an outside organization or company to have it analyzed. So what’s a farmer to do? Analyze it themselves, of course! Here’s how:

  1. Choose the correct software. There are several software packages out there so farmers need to do their research and pick the one that aligns best with their particular goals.
  2. Gather information. It is essential that the yield monitor data in the cab is accurate and that you have a reliable way of transferring that data from the cab to the office.
  3. Check (and double check) your data. Once your data has been entered into the software program it is important to double check that it is correct. Any errors entered into the software program will have a negative impact on your bottom line so always take the time to re-check things like yield totals, etc. While most farmers are interested in documenting their harvest, it also pays to document all operations. Doing so will help determine overall trends.
  4. Study the trends. Once you are sure your data has been collected and entered correctly you can look back over the crop season and examine what happened and why. This will help you to make necessary adjustments and figure out what factors drove yields and many other things.
  5. Put insights into action. Nothing you have done up until this point will mean anything if you don’t take the insights gleaned from your data and put those insights into practice.

Farmers are self-reliant. This is true whether they are harvesting crops or gathering and analyzing data. While farmers can certainly go to an outside source to analyze their data, it’s nice to know that those who wish to analyze it themselves can do so.