Why Join a Grower Peer Group?

Being a business owner has its challenges in any industry, but farmers often feel like they are on an island with no one to share their thoughts with. Many growers don’t feel comfortable sharing their challenges, opportunities or successes with their neighbors because of their competitive nature and independent mindset. Joining a peer group is an effective way for farmers to share in confidence and sharpen personal and business skills.

HTS Ag is forming Grower Peer Groups to provide a forum for open sharing. These groups are made of like-minded growers who meet quarterly in a non-competitive environment to network and discuss issues specific to each member’s concerns. These members are serious about implementing a model for success in their businesses through collaboration and sharing best practices. These groups provide opportunities to share, learn and grow with top-notch producers that are not competitors.

Farmers invest a tremendous amount of time and money to maintain or grow their businesses. Because farmers spend much of their time “working in the business,” they sacrifice valuable time “working on their business.” It’s important to set aside time to focus on increasing efficiency, reducing costs and increasing yields… now more than ever before as margins are tight.

After completing their first year, our Peer Group 1 members have enjoyed participating in the quarterly meetings and say they have learned a lot from each other. They haven’t missed a single meeting, which shows their strong commitment and the tremendous value they have received in participating in a peer group.

What Should You Expect to Get Out of the Peer Group?

• Discovering new and innovative ideas
• Giving and receiving feedback on current business practices
• Hearing about business practices in other operations
• Engaging in collective problem solving… avoid “reinventing the wheel”
• Improving leadership and management skills
• Sustaining an action oriented focus
• Staying ahead of a rapidly changing industry
• Develop/sharpen leadership skills
• Goal setting/Accountability/Discipline
• Best practices/ideas exchange
• Clarity/Focus/Execution

What are Some of the Topics/Agenda Items (partial list)

• Developing SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures)
• Business Succession/Transition
• People management (job descriptions/performance evaluations/employee handbooks)
• Technology
• Data Management
• Benchmarking
• Leadership Plan
• Legacy Plan
• Life Plan
• Business Plan
• Self-improvement
• Grain marketing
• Cover crops
• Stewardship/Conservation
• Crop Production
• Agvocacy

Profile of a Grower Peer Group Member

• Participatory management style
• Open and willing to share information about all facets of your operation
• Looking to learn from others and to share his/her experiences (both successes and failures)
• Progressive thinker—innovative and open to new ideas
• A good sense of humor
• Chemistry that works with other peers in the group

Requirements of Joining a Grower Peer Group Community

• Meet 4 times a year for two days (Mar, July, Sep, and Dec)
• Annual investment per operation, to help cover costs of meeting facilities, some meals, etc.
• Disclosure of some financial information (production costs, ratios etc.)
• Sharing ideas
• Expectation of regular attendance and participation (others in operation encouraged to attend as well)
• Similar challenges and opportunities/business issues

Questions to Consider:

• Are you willing to dedicate time and energy to a peer group?
• Are you willing to share your experiences with others and to learn from their experiences?
• Do you have a culture that welcomes new ideas and honest critiques in your business?
• Do you consider yourself a leader who is continually trying to improve and evolve?

For more information contact: Terry Johnston
Phone: 800-741-3305
Email: tjohnston@htsag.com