April 1999 // Volume 37 // Number 2 // Tools of the Trade // 2TOT2
Designing A Farm Resume
Competition for rental acreage is increasing. As demand for renting farmable land increases, producers wanting to rent land must become salesman of their management practices to differentiate themselves from the competition. Rental land may not always go to the highest bidder in either a cash, crop-share, or flexible rent arrangement. Now, environmental factors and communication with the land owner are criteria for gaining the right to farm the land owner's ground. This paper outlines the method whereby producer skills and producer management practices are summarized through development of a farm resume.
As the demand for renting farmable land increases, producers wanting to rent must become salesmen of their management practices to differentiate themselves from the competition. Compounding the problem of increased competition is the large distances tenants are willing to travel to rent land away from their base establishment. It is now common for a tenant to rent land as far away as 30 miles.
A producer wanting to rent land using a crop-share or flexible cash rent agreement may have difficulties as other tenants are willing to cash rent. Using a crop-share of flexible cash rent places the land owner at risk and increases the need for the landowner to be sure of the tenant's management skills. The rental land may not always go to the highest bidder in either a cash, crop-share, or flexible rent arrangement. Now, environmental factors and communication with the land owner are criteria for gaining the right to farm the land owner's ground.
This paper outlines the method whereby producer skills and producer management practices are summarized through development of a farm resume. Extension personnel working with all sizes of producers should find this a useful tool in helping producers evaluate where they have been, where they are, and where they are going in addition to helping producers increase their chances of gaining farm ground.
A farm resume is much like a job resume in that it highlights tenant qualifications. As with a job resume, there can be a good or bad farm resume. A farm resume can help a tenant in being creative in "selling their services." Young farmers, particularly, may benefit from developing a farm resume to help them compete for land so their operation can grow. Additionally, in an age where the means of communication is ever changing a farm resume may help a producer to bridge the communication gap with the land owner.
Content of the Resume
As with the prospective employee who is careful, concise, and creative in developing a resume to provide a potential employer, a potential tenant should follow similar rules during the development stages of a farm resume. The resume should be updated as the farming operation changes. The resume should include, but is not restricted to:
1. Biographical background. It's a small world. By providing the landowner some background information a common thread may be established. An explanation of when and how the prospective tenant became involved with farming might be included. Additionally, family members (especially the spouse) and community activities could be included.
2. A statement of management objectives for the future. A brief statement of the producer's ideas for the future so that those ideas can be conveyed to the land owner to distinguish the producer from the competition.
3. Experience. Experiences to include are: (a) how long the producer has farmed, (b) how many acres the producer farms,(c) special technologies or advanced training, and(d) licenses held. For technologies, examples of qualifications are use and knowledge of computers, Internet, precision agriculture, intensive soil sampling, and financial record keeping. An example of licenses would be certified chemical applicator.
4. Equipment. List the major types of equipment owned or leased. Make note of those pieces of equipment that improve efficiency or the environment, for example, tracked tractors for reduced soil compaction. Grain storage and crop drying availability could be included if available.
5. Environmental statement. State philosophies on the size of waterways, distance farmed from homesteads and water sources, and soil erosion. A statement about incorporation of advanced technologies such as biotechnology and precision agriculture could be included.
6. Risk management strategies. For a crop-share or flexible cash lease arrangement, the land owner may request help in marketing their share of the crop. The producer's knowledge of crop insurance, forward pricing, and futures markets should be listed; however, limit discussion so that the impression of the producer spending more time mitigating marketing risks than mitigating production and environmental risks is not given.
7. Information on insurance coverage and limits.
8. References. The producer should have references ready upon request. One liners from current land owners could be included. Additionally, include financial institutions where the majority of the banking of the farm business are handled. The producer should always have permission from all references.
9. If available, a picture of the home operation should be available to show the land owner. This indicates to the land owner the care and pride taken in the tenant's operation. However, a picture of an operation that is not well kept could hurt the producer's chances.
All of these details should be included in developing a farm resume. As with the case of a prospective employee, many iterations of writing such a resume may be needed. There are some general guidelines that should be followed when developing a farm resume. These guidelines will help to better promote a producer's skills through giving consideration to those potential land owners who may read your farm resume. General guidelines for development of a farm resume that should be followed are: (a) limit resume to one or two pages;(b) choose fonts that consider the age (eyesight) of landowner; and (c) do not clutter pages, use the appropriate margins (suggested 1" margins all around) and spacing between sub-headings (double-space suggested).
Development of a farm resume can help the producer in competing for rental ground or facilities. An example of a farm resume can be obtained by contacting the author. Every producer should develop a unique farm resume consistent with their management philosophies and their operations capabilities.
Another complication to farm growth through rental expansion is the urban absentee land owner. These are persons who own land through inheritance or investment and who are seldom seen by the prospective tenant. In addition to development of a farm resume, producers may want to consider development of bi-monthly newsletter during the cropping season or Web site to better communicate with these land owners. Advances in technology should make these tasks relatively simple for the producer with guidance from an Extension agent.