Market News & Headlines >> Katie's blog: Intangible assets within a family farm

It’s comforting to find optimism within a struggling farm economy. When I look at a farm balance sheet, I consider all the assets that aren’t quantified monetarily. The typical farm business is centered around physical, tangible assets. I want to share a few intangible assets that are easily overlooked.


Loyal employees. Workers who respect equipment, livestock, owners, and each other are worth their weight in gold. A loyal individual not only avoids financial losses, but works to find gains. There’s also the safety factor when people look out for one another. Plus, it’s simply more enjoyable to be in a happy group that shares goodwill and your common goals.    

Positive reputation. This can be anything from business opportunities to friendships. Relationships with others may add to the bottom line, but also boosts day-to-day morale. Relationships don’t develop overnight and can’t be bought. 

Work familiarity. If you’ve covered the same acres for years and years, you learn it. You know the wet spots, holes, trouble areas, or that grumpy neighbor that needs an extra buffer strip to avoid controversy. Technology is beginning to pick up on this information, but still doesn’t replace the connection from long tractor hours. The same concept applies to other areas like marketing and financial decisions- it starts to feel more natural over time.   

Family heritage. Farm families tend to incorporate the next generation with skills and traditions at a young age. Work ethic, for example, isn't taught in a college course--it takes observation and culture. Those that didn’t learn these skills at a young age or come from a farming family, still learned it from someone. 

You won’t have much luck selling these examples as financial assets, but there’s still value. Intangibles create a positive long-term perspective. What other intangibles have you overlooked? 

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