The Cash Cow Farmer Podcast

This podcast is a discussion about improving profitability and business strategy for grain farmers.
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The Cash Cow Farmer Podcast




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Dec 29, 2015

There are two main strategies farmers use to grow their operation. One is buying farmland; the other is renting it.

Farmers don’t want to lose their operation because the cash rent’s too high and they’re not making money. That is, they don’t want the ship they’ve chosen to ride to sink in the middle of the sea. If you can relate to that feeling, take it easy.

Today James and Scott give you four steps that will help you manage your cash rent and set you up to improve its profitability.

Dec 23, 2015

Farmers hate having tax liability and will usually go to great lengths to avoid it. Sometimes though, in their attempts to offset income, farmers complicate the situation by using ill advised practices.

In today's episode James and Scott discuss how to effectively and responsibly deal with tax liabilities in a responsible and fiscally sound way.

Nov 19, 2015

When you think of farming, a Wall Street speculator isn't the first thing you think of. Grain and futures contracts, while they are tough to sometimes comprehend, can be extremely fruitful when utilized well. While today's topic might be heady, Scott and James unpack exactly what you as a farmer should understand grain and futures contracts.

Nov 12, 2015

Hope is not a good grain marketing strategy, but so many farmers approach their stored grain with no risk management strategy. Today Scott unpacks the seven steps every farmer can take to hedge their stored grain and succeed. 

Oct 28, 2015

Farmers are some of the hardest working people on the planet. Sometimes though, farmers need a little extra encouragement to work "on" rather than "in" their business. Today we discuss the essential metrics and data points you should be tracking as a farmer to drive your farm forward towards health and stability.

Oct 28, 2015

As a farmer, you know the importance of being diligent in the small details. These are sometimes the difference between thousands of dollars in revenue and just breaking even. Today, James and Scott discuss strategies for getting the most profit out of your farming operation and where exactly you can look for those small tweaks that make a huge difference.

Oct 13, 2015

If you’ve ever been married—or in any relationship, with anyone, ever—you know the importance of negotiation. Good negotiation skills are crucial for a farmer to master. Many times, your operation will depend on how well you can negotiate. In this episode Scott unpacks the most important things a farmer needs to remember when negotiating land rent.

Oct 3, 2015

Are you looking for a boost of cash, but feel stuck with the available options from your bank? Today Scott and James unpack Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans and how they can help farmers finance purchases and bridge their gaps between selling commodities. We'll cover what we think are the Top 3 Government Loan Programs for Farmers.

Sep 19, 2015

Cash is King, whether your running a lemonade stand or a 100,000-acre farm. James and Scott discuss the top five reasons why cash flow is so important. Everything from financing power to psychological benefits are covered as you discover how and why you can stand confidently with cash while other panic without it.

Sep 7, 2015

buying farmland grain markets

Farmers are always interested in what’s going on in farmland sales, for good reason. It’s a competitive realm: you’re not only competing with the people who farm around you, you’re competing with investors. There are doctors in my area who don’t farm, but they sure are interested in renting it out.

Since it’s an eternally hot topic, I wanted to go over a three-part strategy to buying farmland that I believe can be very useful for anyone looking to make the best land purchase possible.


1) Farm Strategy

Your farm strategy is your business strategy. Farmers usually form their strategy alone—but that’s never the path of the wise.

All good businesses have a board of directors.  You need to get at least four people involved anytime you’re thinking about a big equipment or a land purchase:

  1. Your banker or bankers, (hopefully, you have more than one.)

  2. Your accountant, (the person most familiar with your finances)

  3. Your tax advisor,

  4. Your estate planner, (It’s not always the best idea to purchase the farm yourself; you may want your son or daughter to purchase it with you.)

Some of these may overlap; your tax advisor may be your accountant, and so on. The point remains: it’s always best to consult the people in all four of these roles before major purchasesThey’ll keep you from going broke.

But there is an even more important part of a farm strategy: knowing the purpose of the purchaseHow does that piece of land fit into your operation?

buying farmland grain markets

Let’s say, for example, that the quarter of land is contiguous with your own is for sale. You could probably pay a little more for it than most people because of how conveniently it will fit into your operation. It could be a matter of just knocking a fence down, leaving you with a full mile run for field operations. The longer you can drive without turning around, the more you can get done.

Farm strategy is about evaluating how the land you’re considering is going to add value and synergy to your operation. If there isn’t a clear reason you should buy it, you shouldn’t. In fact, you should have multiple good reasons before you purchase.

And again, your four advisors should all give their approval before you pull the trigger. This is classic “checks and balances.” You’re the President of your operation—but those advisors are your Congress or board of directors.


2) Income Projections

You need to figure out what your income is going to be—which is tricky.

A lot of farmers bought land back around 2012 thinking they’d make $800 an acre in income and pay off the land in 12.5 years, no problem. But that’s not the case anymore.

Realistically, you need your income statement to project a land’s income over the last 10 years—the good, the bad, and the cringe-worthy.

You should also take into account what land is renting for, but realize that even rental prices can be misleading.

Likely, if you’re a good farmer who’s financially forced to rent, you’re not alone. Many others will be renting too, driving down the price of rent. The price you thought you’d get renting your land may not be very good.

buying farmland grain markets

So when doing an income projection, you can’t just base your forecast off the “golden years.” Remember that farming is cyclical: golden years are surrounded by a lot of mediocre and hair-graying years.

Your advisors will help you with this, too. Your tax person in particular will know your farm’s income for the last 10 years. Lean on that estimate.


3) Pricing & Financing Strategy

What should I pay for a piece of land? What can I afford to pay?

These questions are really at the center of buying farmland, aren’t they? Yet, there’s no simple formula for answering them. So what should you do?

For starters, talk to your advisors; it should be clear by now that they are essential to every part of your buying strategy.

Beyond that, you need to look at your cash flow and balance sheet. The balance sheet will tell you how much cash you have and if you can pay for a given property.

Keep in mind that paying in cash is never a good idea for farmland; cash is worth more than the land, and it always will be. Cash is always king.

If you buy land for a million dollars in cash, you just lost a quarter of a million dollars. Yes, that land will appreciate, but it’s only valued at 70% of the market value, as far as your net worth goes.

buying farmland grain markets

You take a big hit when you buy an illiquid asset; liquidity gives assets huge value. Cash probably has 1.5 times its borrowing value. One million dollars in cash translates to a one and a half million dollar loan.

But if you have one million dollars in farmland, the bank might lend you $600,000-700,000. That’s it.

Pricing and financing strategy go hand in hand.


A note on interest rates

Interest rates are an important part of the price of land. If you’re buying a lot of land and you don’t have a fixed interest rate, a rising interest rate can balloon your payments in the future.

Looking at your financing strategy, let’s say your interest rate is at 4.25% for 20 years. You purchase land for $1,000,000.

Payment will be around $75,000. You have to plan to pay that every year when you’re forecasting. You have to show that your profit will far exceed that payment in order to buy that piece of land. That’s how you figure out what you can afford to pay.

Again, don’t use your cash; you’re going to need it if interest rates go up and you have to pay off loans overnight. The cash is a safety net for the unexpected.



Every farmer’s situation is personal. Some work with multiple operators, and others run the whole enterprise alone. Some are exclusively renting, while others own a fair amount of land. There are dozens of variables involved.

But if you follow our advice and consider these three main factors—farm strategy, income projections, and financing strategy—you can go into an auction sale with your top price in mind and your confidence running high.

Add the blessing of your four advisors, and you’ll be about as safe as a farmer can be buying farmland. Notice the word advisors popping up and in blue a lot???  That was intentional...

Do you already own land that won’t seem to yield a profit? Learn how to make every field profitable here.

Please leave a comment of some helpful things you have experienced in purchasing land.




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Aug 16, 2015

Today we are going to continue with the "Farmers Guide To Social Media" with Facebook.


Facebook is the largest and most popular social media network in the world.  Even my 89 year old grandma is on Facebook.


Listen as I talk about why and what farmers can do on facebook.


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