Successful farming requires a clear understanding of the forces shaping agriculture and the direction that the farm is headed. Success also requires an effective method for executing and monitoring both strategic and operational plans. This paper provides an introduction to strategic planning and its application to the farm business. The material in this publication provides a brief description of the strategic planning process, reviews areas in which farm operators make strategic choices and some of the risks that accompany these strategic choices, illustrates the use of process planning methods as a means of linking strategy and operations, and describes the use of benchmarking as a method for monitoring progress and improving performance. While this material provides several suggestions for developing and implementing strategic plans, the focus should be on the process, not the plan. Successful strategic plans are seldom created by a one-time planning effort. Rather, they evolve by a continuing process of assessing business strengths and weaknesses and assessing opportunities.


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