It's wise to do a little evaluation in the early months of each year, says Gene Tinker, University of Minnesota swine business extension educator. You should look forward to visiting with your lender to discuss last year's results and make plans for this year.

Tinker says two things should happen each year:

    1. You should assess last year's production and profitability.
    2. You should plan for the upcoming season.

The former influences the latter, he points out.

When reviewing last year's results, ask what happened and why, not only for your operation but the entire industry. Then use that information to plan for the year ahead.

Questions you should ask yourself and discuss with your lender include:

  • What production strategies and practices should continue?
  • What should change?
  • What strategies would reduce or manage your risk?
  • What are your marketing plans?
  • Are there opportunities to lock in inputs, especially corn and soybean meal, at lower prices?

Now is a beneficial time to develop or review your short-term business plan and look forward to the next three to five years, Tinker says.