Financial Benchmarking

Farm Credit East's benchmark programs are a unique way to evaluate and improve the operational and financial management of your business. The program delivers an objective view of your operation by comparing your financial and operational data both to industry standards and to data supplied by other successful producers within your industry.
Row of grapes growing in vineyard

Financial benchmarking delivers insights for profitability.

Personalized service
One of the most important aspects of this process is the one-on-one assistance you receive from a Farm Credit East consultant, who will visit your business, review the analysis and offer insights that are personalized to your business.
More expertise
Gain access not only to invaluable information and insights, but also to a business consultant who can assist the financial growth of your business.
Comprehensive management review
Our benchmarking programs will help evaluate and improve the operational and financial management of your business.

We Offer the Following Benchmarking Services

Dairy cow icon
The Dairy Benchmarks Program provides in-depth financial and production analyses and compares results with those of similar profitable farms in the program.
Cluster of grapes icon
The Winery Benchmarks Program is a unique way to see how you stack up against your industry peers with an in-depth financial and operational analysis of your business.

What Is Benchmarking

Working with a Farm Credit East consultant, together, you will:
  • Identify areas of your business that are holding you back.
  • Identify strengths your business can lean on.
  • Compare your business to industry peers.
  • Develop an action plan based on your business’s data.
  • Identify ways to increase your profitability, including controlling costs and gaining efficiencies.

How Benchmarking Works

Data collection

A Farm Credit East benchmark specialist will work with you to compile data that profiles many aspects of your business, including profitability, customer counts, employee compensation and benefits.

Data analysis

We will incorporate your results with data from other operations in your type of business to illustrate how your business compares to others of similar size, scope, profitability level and geographic area. Your data stays confidential; only you and your consultant know your results. And the report is only prepared for members of the benchmark and no one else.

Comprehensive seminar

You’ll hear presentations on targeted management topics and get answers to your questions. You will also spend time with other business operators to gain a better understanding of your industry and explore practical solutions that can be applied to your operation.

Benchmarks report

For dairy participants

  • At the seminar, you will receive your personal benchmark report offering a wide range of useful reports for your farm – from a comparative earnings statement to milking parlor analysis.

For winery participants

  • The Winery Benchmarks Program offers two report options:
    • Management Review report is a customized, in-depth report that gives you a one-of-a-kind snapshot of your business. You’ll find multiple comparisons of your data to similar businesses’ data, from profitability and sales per visitor to sales per days open, labor costs and more.
    • Executive Summary report requires less data for a reduced cost. This report is ideal for wineries that are just getting started in the program and may not have all of the data required for the more comprehensive report.
Follow-up meeting

Following the seminar, a Farm Credit East consultant will visit your business to review your personal benchmark results in detail with you. This is your opportunity to work on your objectives and develop a personalized action plan on how improvements will impact your bottom line.

Program extras

You can also enjoy networking opportunities, small group meetings on special interests, webinars and access to a members-only online community.

How do dairy farmers and winery business owners use these programs?

Owners enter the program with lots of questions about improving their businesses and walk away with answers at the end. Questions include:
  • How can I decrease labor expenses?
  • Is my employee compensation package competitive?
  • How efficient is my staff?
  • How does my farm or business measure up to other top producers?
  • How do I know when – or if – it is time to expand my operation?
  • I had a large drop in production last year. What happened?

Next step

To learn more about our benchmarking programs, contact your local office.

Benchmarking FAQs

Benchmarking programs are customized for successful and progressive owners of dairy, ag retail, winery and green industry businesses focused on achieving maximum results.

Upon completion of your year-end records, you will provide them to your Farm Credit East consultant along with a worksheet, which profiles many aspects of your business, from income to production. Your Farm Credit East consultant, loan officer or records specialist can meet with you at your office to collect the necessary information.

At the seminar, you will receive copies of your personal benchmarks that offers a wide range of useful reports – from a comparative earnings statement to operations analysis.

  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Summary
  • Comparative Detail Expense Analysis
  • Comparative Earnings Statement
  • Compensation and Benefits for Key Employees
  • Equipment Analysis
  • Financial Ratios Summary
  • Regional Benchmarks
  • Size and Efficiency Factors
  • Your Comparison to Other Businesses of Your Size

Participants can learn ways to improve their operation, including:

  • How to decrease labor expenses.
  • How their business measures up against other top businesses.
  • How to know when – or if – to expand.
  • If your employee compensation package is competitive.

No. While many Farm Credit customers participate in our benchmarking programs, it is not necessary to have a Farm Credit East loan to participate in one.

Stephen McKnight of River-Breeze Farm poses next to his herd of dairy cows

“We don’t hire Mark to be our cheerleader. We want him to dig in to find our weaknesses and point out where we can advance our business. The benchmarking program is invaluable in doing this analysis.”

Stephen McKnight
River-Breeze Farm
Chase Mills, New York

View From the Field

"Farm Credit East brings our business to the next level."

How can you be sure that your decisions are informed?

Stephen and Mary Lou McKnight own and manage River-Breeze Farm in Chase Mills, New York, along with their son, Travis, his wife, Natalie, and their son-in-law, Steven Billing. As a strategic manager, Stephen believes in using more than his gut when it comes to making decisions for his business. For example, when faced with the choice of purchasing custom-raised heifers or raising their own, he would rather let the numbers do the talking.

How we helped

For several years, Stephen and his family have worked closely with Farm Credit East consultant Mark Mapstone as part of the Dairy Benchmarking Program. Not only does benchmarking allow Stephen to chart his business’s strengths and weaknesses from year to year, it also shows him where he stands in relation to the competition. “We base many of our decisions on where we stand in the industry,” he explained. “For example, we recently started raising our own heifers based on our benchmarks report. We compared our profitability with those in the industry and worked with Mark to make a decision that was right for us.”

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