Every time Joel Salatin publishes a new book, you can be sure that you’re in for a treat. His books range in their content from the technical, to philosophical, to humorous, and back again. Regardless of where you are at in your farming career, or even if you are a neophyte casually looking at the shelves, there’s something to take away from each book.
His latest is no exception. Your Successful Farm Business: Production, Profit, Pleasure, takes a hard look at what is commonly the weakest link in the farms tow chain: the actual business.
It serves in part as a follow up to Joel’s first book, You Can Farm. The new book does not replace the old, but rather compliments it as if moving up in the class, looking at follow up topics that are necessary when moving forward in your farming venture.
In broad strokes, here are some of the highlights from the book.
Sustainable agriculture at it’s core focuses on working with nature rather than against it. Technically speaking it can be referred to as biomimicry. In this context, Joel speaks about building your farm so that it becomes a part of the landscape and works with nature’s system.
An easy example is the difference between adding infrastructure to the property, or adding to the property itself by improving the soil fertility.
Perhaps my favorite part from the book. Having an eclectic awareness of what’s going on around you is something many people miss out on. It’s the result of reading widely and deeply, giving you an ability to speak to almost anything on any occasion.
An example in the book, is that Joel likes to read not only the Mother Earth News magazine, but also the trade papers of the conventional farming industry. It’s no good to simply say, “They do this.” It means so much more when you can honestly tell people, “Here’s what they say in their own words.”
A touchy subject for most farmers, and the area of greatest weakness for many. This book pushes right ahead with the topic. Focusing on why farmers should be direct marketing, how they should do it, and where they should be doing it.
After going through the reasons why most farmers avoid marketing, the book works through some of the why, where, and how of direct marketing.
A chapter is dedicated to Gross Margin analysis. It’s incredible to suppose that some farmers farm for the sake of farming and ignore the bottom line, but they do. We cannot consider greed as the motivating force for monitoring our business income, but the ability to support our families and continue improving the world with regenerative agriculture.
Because of this, it is necessary to know where your money is coming and going. What products are bringing in the most income, and how much does it cost to produce it?
In a very profound portion of the book, Joel encourages farmers to stay nimble. Instead of investing in large infrastructure costs like barns, metal, and concrete, put your energies developing low infrastructure assets like loyal customers, trained employees, and effective management strategies.
When equity moves from depreciable physical structure to nonphysical skill and information, it fundamentally changes the impediments to entry as well as the risk of financial exposure.
-Joel Salatin Your Successful Farm Business
An example from Polyface Joel uses is the style and method for raising broilers, in relatively inexpensive and highly mobile pens that move across pasture, rather than in high cost barns and concrete.
This review barely scratches the surface of the great material in Your Successful Farm Business. Do yourself and your farm a favor and buy it immediately. Great ideas are worth the investment and this book will be paying you back in dividends to come.