Agricultural producers use various resources to continue learning and implementing new practices and technologies. Peer advisory groups are an essential tool for progressive and business-minded farmers or ranchers who seek continuous growth and improvement of their ag businesses.
Like most family businesses, agricultural managers make most business decisions alone. The lack of challenging and diverse ideas often means that producers miss business opportunities or fail to implement beneficial changes for their operations. A peer advisory group serves as a reciprocal advisory board that helps farm businesses generate knowledge and improve management strategies that can impact their operation.
A peer advisory group is formed by ranchers and farmers willing to share their experiences and make the most of each member’s talents to solve problems and make business decisions. They constantly exchange information, knowledge, ideas, experiences, and opinions. Each group usually consists of 8-12 producers who periodically meet on each member’s operation. This group size helps maintain the intimacy and trust necessary to obtain the best results from each group member.
There are several peer group systems with methodologies for agricultural producers to achieve their goals. Argentina’s CREA groups are among the oldest and most experienced peer group associations (Regional Consortiums of Agricultural Experimentation). This association has more than 2,000 members and 60 years of using and perfecting the peer group methodology. CREA members have continuously improved their productivity and are at the forefront of new technologies and management practices. Thanks to the business management mindset generated within these groups, its members are among the top 20% of their country.
Although not as popular as in Argentina, a few agricultural companies use this methodology in the U.S. and several private consulting companies offer these services. Through the leadership of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and funding from Southern Risk Management Education, a peer advisory group has been developed with ranchers from North Texas and Oklahoma, using a similar methodology as CREA groups. This peer advisory group focuses on the production risk associated with new production systems and the business’s economic, financial, and organizational aspects.