In the banter about how to beat the gloom and be better at making money in arable farming there is one word that the brave use: benchmarking.

Believe in benchmarking

Some want volatility to evaporate away. Others want buyers to boost what they are prepared to pay.  Believers in benchmarking know they have to look for answers within their business and are willing and able to look deep and hard at their costs of production.

The wait for a magic fix could be a long one

AHDB lead analyst Jack Watts calls for farmers and others to get together in the “development of sustainable volatility management tools”.  JVFG members know that the wait for such magic tools could be a long one.  At their fingertips they already have something much more powerful: JVFG timesheets.

The power is in the detail

Every operation, all the associated costs, from cultivation through to harvest are recorded. Yes, it takes effort. It takes a team effort from every member of staff to get the data that will deliver results. But what you put in you more than get back.

Banking on benchmarking

HSBC head of agriculture Allan Wilkinson has recently been beating the benchmarking drum.  At the AHDB-organised launch of their volatility forum he is reported to have commented that the most focussed businesses are most likely to cope with volatility.

“It’s about being top to toe relentless about business improvement and with endless supplies of determination” said Wilkinson.  “Benchmarking has to be everyday common language – but unfortunately is still not an accepted part of understanding where your business is in agriculture.”

Beat the rest and benchmark with the best

Decision made to benchmark the next choice is who to benchmark with. Compare your costs with farms that are performing the same or less well than yours and you will get little to work with. You need to look to those at the top of the league who are managing to make money even in the currently cold comfort climate.

Benchmark with JVFG and you can compare your standards with the business performance of the best. Through the discussions and analysis of each set of benchmarked comparisons across the group – summer and winter – you will get clear steer on which machinery choices, operator technique and system produce the winning formula.

Best of all between JVFG members there is still plenty of banter. The difference is that there’s little moaning about the complexity of international markets pr a frenzy of feeding a deepening sense of vulnerability and frustration at the current serious situation faced by many arable enterprises.  JVFG banter at their members meetings brings a can-do list of practical changes to make for measurable improvements. That’s enables them to deal with volatility with a bounce in the step. Now that’s beauty of benchmarking.