Gus's Musings

September 30, 2013

Is farming a business?

  I love watching sport, seeing the best of the best face off and pit themselves against one another to see just who will be the best, it really doesn’t matter what the sport is for me.  Whether it is the 100m, where the fastest wins or formula 1 where a combination of the most skilled, fastest & tactically sound, either way it is “benchmarking” who is the best. 

    Now farming is one of the most benchmarked businesses around, I just wonder if we are measuring the right factors sometimes.  Now I have no problem with measuring water use efficiency or stocking rates etc., using these to benchmark with other farmers in the area, I do wonder if benchmarking Return on Investment (ROI) is a valuable overall measure of farmer’s skills.  Is it more important that farmers are profitable or they produce the best produce that they can?  Or if in fact farmers can produce a wonderful healthy product all the while improving landscape health?  So if farming was a sport would we rate ROI as part of the skills required to farm? 

Now I’m not suggesting that making money in a farming business isn’t important, I’m questioning if our economic measures are actually rewarding and encouraging the skills we as a community wish to see in our future farmers.  I simply see money as a currency used to reward those that fulfill a service, so when I look at farming skills I would like to leave money out of it, just focus on farming.  So maybe lets see if I can put a finger on some of the skills I think should be rewarded in order to promote the best possible farmers:

  • Best product for the market (based on different market requirements)
  • Lowest chemical usage per unit (includes fertilizers)
  • Healthiest produce that is good for the land and those eating/wearing it.
  • Lowest energy usage (fossil fuels) per unit produced
  • Improving biodiversity levels
  • Increasing soil health
  • Valuable contributors to a diverse community


With the way I look at economic returns, those with some of the highest ROIs (I’m generalizing here), seem to produce a mediocre product at the lowest possible price.  So I’m certainly saying that the current system of rewards for farmers encourages mediocrity, which I think is to the detriment of our profession.  So if we are serious about encouraging the best possible farmers going into the future I think we need to reward those farmers striving to achieve.

Welcome to the farming Grand Final!!




  1. bushboy

    Hooray… managed not to use the over used word sustainable!!! Biodiversity and soils are the most important part of agriculture and the balance will achieve the profits and help create a lifestyle that is “comfortable”. Aiming for the huge cash rewards is often a downfall….I hope that others understand what you are doing Gus.
    I hope you get MVP 🙂

    • admin

      Thanks very much for the kind words, I welcome the support and encouragement that you offer. I to hope that this is received as a question to all of us consumers as to make good quality conscious decisions so that we have a wonderful Ag. system for the future. Cheers Gus

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