How to develop farm mission, vision statements

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If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to restructure or revamp your farm business plan, it’s important to develop strong mission and vision statements. If your farm or agriculture business doesn’t have one, now is a good time develop one.

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1What are they
A mission statement is a guiding light for your farm or ag business. How can you expect to grow if you don’t know what it is you actually want to achieve? The mission statement can be broken down into three parts: vision, mission and core values.

A mission statement tells someone not familiar with your business who you are and what you do, while the vision statement takes a look at the big picture and what you want to achieve. Both of these statements are achieved by sticking to your farm or businesses core values.

2Vision statement
The vision statement focuses on the future of the farm or business and should answer questions such as:

  • What do I want my farm or business to be?
  • What do I really want in life?
  • How do I want to be seen or thought of when I interact with others?
  • What values are most important and will not be compromised?
  • How will the farm or business serve its owners, employers and customers?

3Mission statement
The mission statement focuses on the present. It lists the broad goals for which the farm/business was formed.

Ask yourself:

  • Why does the farm/business exist?
  • What is its purpose?
  • What does the farm or business do and why?
  • For whom does it do it?

It also identifies products, services and customers.

A mission statement should be short enough that it is easily remembered, but detailed enough that it identifies what specific markets will be targeted and how customers needs within those markets will be met.

4Core values
Core values define how you and your employees will run the farm or business to meet your vision and mission. They set principles and values. Keywords used may include: ethical, high quality, respect, meeting the needs of consumers, protecting the environment, humane, etc.

5Developing statements
Sitting down and writing mission and vision statements can be the most challenging part of developing a business plan. It may take several drafts to get it right. Start by breaking your business down into keywords.

  1. What type of farm/business is it? Livestock, grain, forage or hay, vegetable, greenhouse, diversified operation, etc. Break it down further by listing species raised or type of grain or vegetables grown.
  2. Select words/phrases that describe your farm practice: Conventional, organic, sustainable, grass fed, etc.
  3. What words/phrases best describe principles or values that guide your farming practices: sustainable, local, environmental stewardship, profitable, fresh, heritage, quality.
  4. How do you sell your product? Direct retail sales, wholesale, community supported agriculture, farmers market, pick your own, agritourism/agritainment.
  5. Who are your customers? Local buyers, retail, restaurants, specialty crop consumers or ethnic markets, etc.
  6. What do you want your farm to be known for? Family atmosphere, freshness, quality, service, honesty, integrity, progressive, etc.
  7. Describe what makes your farm unique?

Use these key words and phrases to develop your statement. After you have developed an effective mission statement, you can set specific goals to achieve your mission and vision.

Sources: Iowa State University Agricultural Marketing Resource Center; Rutgers Cooperative Extension; Purdue Extension.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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