Business thrives when conditions and stable and predictable, but uncertainties can create stress that lead to poor attitudes, a decreased capacity for decision-making and bad lifestyle choices.
According to a study Farm Management Canada released this week, 78% of farmers across Canada report mid to high stress levels.
But having a written business plan can help keep farmers on track, even when they’re facing the unexpected.
“Regularly following a written farm business plan contributes to peace of mind and more effective coping mechanisms,” the report states. “While management practices cannot entirely eliminate stress, they can play a significant role in reducing stress and promoting positive coping mechanisms.”
But the proportion of farmers who have and regularly use a business plan is just 21%, while 48% rarely or never refer to their business plan. Many feel that a written plan won’t give them the answers they need, or that future circumstances will render it obsolete.
The goal of a business plan, and making regular updates to it, is to help people navigate changing circumstances, however.
“Among farmers who use written business plans, 88% claim that it has contributed to peace of mind,” the report states. “By putting plans in writing, farmers and their farm teams have a reference point in times of uncertainty. This helps to give clarity in uncertain stressful situations, providing a ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’”
Prepared by the Wilton Consulting Group of Fergus, Ontario, the report is the result of a comprehensive, national study that surveyed 1,735 farmers, 14 focus groups and 72 one-on-one interviews with farmers and industry representatives between October 2019 and March 2020.
Farm Management Canada is an Ottawa-based umbrella group for farm management activities across Canada, backed by the federal government and several industry associations.