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Develop a Useful Mission Statement for Your Agricultural Business

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Farms or agricultural businesses that are able to clearly communicate who they are and what they stand for are often more successful than those that don’t have a true understanding of their focus. One way to develop strong communication lines and a clear understanding of what the business does is through the process of writing a mission statement. It does not matter whether the farm business consists of two people or 50, all involved must have a clear understanding of what the business does and why they do it in order to move the business in the desired direction.
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Ohio State University Extension, Ashland County, 804 US Hwy 250, Ashland, OH 44805
“Building for the Successful Transition of Your Agricultural Business” Fact Sheet Series
Develop a Useful Mission Statement
for Your Agricultural Business
Julia Nolan Woodruff
Agriculture-Natural Resources Extension Educator, Ashland County
Introduction
understanding of the focus of the business and a strong
Farms or agricultural businesses that are able to clearly
foundation on which to make business decisions.
communicate who they are and what they stand for are
A well-written mission statement should describe the
often more successful than those that don’t have a true
farm business accurately and also provide inspiration to
understanding of their focus. One way to develop strong
those who work to meet the everyday and long-term goals
communication lines and a clear understanding of what
of the business. Since the creation of a mission statement
the business does is through the process of writing a
is one of the first steps in the planning process, many of
mission statement. It does not matter whether the farm
the discussions held during the process can also be used
business consists of two people or 50, all involved must
when writing the goals for the business.
have a clear understanding of what the business does
Here are some sample mission statements:
and why they do it in order to move the business in the
desired direction.
Farm Market Mission Statement
A mission statement is a short statement describing
Our mission is to produce a healthy and safe food
the fundamental underlying reason for the business to
product, maximize profitability, and maintain our
exist — its critical purpose. This statement aligns what
rural heritage. It is important for us to provide a
the business says it does, what it actually does, and what
quality product and agricultural education for the tri-
others believe it does. It clarifies what the business is not
state farm market consumer. Building on our strong
trying to do and not trying to be.
reputation, we will continue to grow our business and
This statement is a reflection of the underlying values,
our people to ensure long-term success.
goals, and purposes of the farm and of the management
team. The mission statement should be communicated
ABC Farm Mission Statement
and remembered.
We are a family-owned and -operated grain
farm and plan to ensure this opportunity to the next
Writing a Mission Statement
generation. We strive to make efficient use of inputs,
maintain excellent land stewardship practices, and

The process of developing a mission statement is by
produce high-quality commodities for the end user.
nature very abstract, and it can be a challenging and time-
We value rural life and are committed to keeping our
consuming process for management to conduct. However,
rural community vital.
the mission statement development process can be a very
rewarding undertaking, if the time and energy are spent
Landscape Service Mission Statement
to write an honest description of who the business is and
Our mission is to enhance the outdoor living
what is valued, what the business does and how it is done,
environment of our customers by providing quality
and who the customers are. The end result will be a shared
Copyright © 2007, The Ohio State University

Develop a Useful Mission Statement for Your Agricultural Business — page 2
landscape services that are environmentally safe and
age compensation for employees and long-term security
economically sound while allowing our employees to
for our family.
grow as landscape professionals.
Group Process
When developing a mission statement, give attention to
One person should not take on the job of writing the mis-
what is important to the business now and in the future.
sion statement. It is essential that everyone directly involved
Use the worksheet on the final page of this fact sheet to help
in the operation of the farm business — spouse, parents,
you sort out your thoughts first as an individual, then as
siblings, children, non-family employees, etc. — have the
a group. It is important to have a clear understanding of
opportunity for input. This will provide a more true state-
where you stand as an individual before you think about
ment of what the farm business does and what it values. This
the farm business. Ask both management and employees
approach also provides for greater buy-in and acceptance
to complete the worksheet on their own. You will need to
by those involved in the business. Although some business
consider questions such as:
members may grumble about spending time on what may
be viewed as an unimportant task, in the end everyone does
• What are my personal values?
appreciate being asked his or her opinion. It is hoped that
• What are my business values?
everyone will feel like he or she played an important role
• Why do we farm?
in the success of the business.
• What do we really want to do?
After answering the questions on the worksheet on the
• What are the strengths of our business?
last page of this fact sheet, the next step is to come together
• What role does each family member and/or em-
to discuss your answers as a group. Remember, it will take
ployee fulfill?
some time to work through the development process. Try
• What standard of living does the family want?
to spread the group discussion over a set period of time
• How much family time do I want?
involving more than one family meeting. Try to find times
• Are nonfarm and/or community activities an im-
that fit everyone’s work schedule and meet in a neutral place.
portant part of my life?
In other words, don’t save this discussion for the holiday
• When do I want to retire?
dinner around mom and dad’s table. Family dinners should
• Do we want to transfer the family business to the
be reserved for family time, and discussions about the farm
next generation?
business mission statement should be conducted on work
time when not in a peak production season.
Mission statements have a tendency to quickly get out
As a result of the group discussions, a draft form or forms
of control and can become lofty, meaningless statements of
of the statement should be developed. The draft(s) can be
grandeur. For example: Our farm business strives to produce
two sentences or several paragraphs. Share the draft(s) with
the best quality milk possible and provide customers worldwide
family members and employees, asking them to suggest
with a nutritious supply of milk. This statement does not tell
revisions and additional thoughts.
anything about what the business really stands for or how
The final form should be a concise statement of what
they produce ‘“the best quality milk.” It doesn’t explain what
the farm business does, how it is done, who the custom-
the “best quality milk” is, and “customers worldwide” is a
ers are, and what is valued. It does not matter what form
broad explanation of the customer base. This statement is
it is written in, paragraph style or bullet points. Choose
written more like a vision statement, which is the futurist
whatever form is comfortable for you. It is your business
dream of the farm business. The mission statement should be
mission statement and should be a reflection of your busi-
a more specific and focused statement. A good example of a
ness and its style.
mission statement is the Yoder Farm Mission Statement:
Use of the Mission Statement
Yoder Farm Mission Statement
The value of a mission statement comes from the active
The Yoder Farm mission is to produce and market
use of it. Review your mission statement often to be sure it
high-quality milk in sufficient quantity to provide a
still fits with the direction of the business. Use the mission
good standard of living for our family. The business
statement to aid in the goal-setting process and when making
should also be profitable enough to provide above-aver-
decisions. Successful businesses are built on strong foun-
Copyright © 2007, The Ohio State University

Develop a Useful Mission Statement for Your Agricultural Business — page 3
dations. Taking the time to develop a meaningful mission
References
statement will provide your business with the foundation
Ehmke, C., Dobbins, C., Gray, A., Boehlje, M., and Miller,
it needs to be successful today and into the future.
A. (2004). Developing Vision and Mission Statements. Purdue
Finally, once the mission statement has reached its final
Extension.
form, it should be printed and posted in an area such as the
Johnson, D., and Hanson, J. Focusing Your Dreams:
farm office, tool shop, milking parlor, or employee break
Creating a Mission Statement. Fact Sheet #668. University
area where it can be viewed on a daily basis. It will be of
of Maryland.
little use to the business saved in a computer file or in a
Jones, R., and Fogleman, S. (2005). Farm and Ranch Goal
desk drawer. Be proud of what your farm business does,
Setting (Strategic Planning). Kansas State University.
how it does it, and why!
ManagementExcel. Ohio State University Extension.
http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~mgtexcel/
Summary
There is no perfect mission statement form. Managers
Acknowledgments
should concentrate more on the process of gaining a better
This fact sheet was developed as a result of a grant received
understanding of the business, themselves, and employees
by Ohio State University Extension from the North Central
rather than worrying about the appearance of the mission
Risk Management Education Center, 2006-2007.
statement. A useful mission statement will be one that clearly
represents the business and its employees and will provide
a foundation on which to develop business goals.
For more information on writing business goals, refer to
the Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet Developing
Goals for the Agricultural Business.

Reviewers of this document included David Marrison,
OSU Extension Educator; Mike Gastier, OSU Extension
Educator; and Chris Bruynis, OSU Extension Educator.
Visit Ohio State University Extension’s web site “Ohioline” at: http://ohioline.osu.edu
Ohio State University Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that al research and related educational
programs are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin,
sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or veteran status. This statement is in accordance with United States Civil
Rights Laws and the USDA.
Keith L. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, Ohio State University Extension
TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868
September 2007—3609
Copyright © 2007, The Ohio State University

Develop a Useful Mission Statement for Your Agricultural Business — page 4
Mission Statement Worksheet
The following questions should be answered individually and then brought together for those involved in the business
to answer collectively. Your answers don’t have to be confined to one page. A mission statement can be developed from
the group’s answers.
1. Why do I farm?
2. What do we do? What is our purpose?
3. Who are our customers? What do they want?
4. How do we accomplish our purpose? What practices do we use and who is responsible for what?
5. What beliefs and values do we hold?
Copyright © 2007, The Ohio State University

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