In today's agriculture environment, successful farm management truly involves thinking as a CEO. With the commodity market prices we are experiencing and the price of input costs we are seeing, farmers are dealing with similar levels of financial transactions as the average large corporation experiences normally.
One component to thinking as a CEO is to expand the work duties of the farm manager role beyond day-to-day operations. Yes, there is always work to be completed, but beyond the day-to-day labor tasks other important duties need to be addressed. One of these duties should include striving for progressive and proactive management measures.
There are two components involved in achieving progressive and proactive management practices and they are similar to the corporate business model. First, understand and learn about your consumer's wants and needs.
Tina LeBrun and Wayne Schoper
Have you ever thought to ask your grain buyer or milk creamery what type of product they are looking for? Do they have a need for a certain level of energy or desirable traits that you could produce for a higher price? For example, maybe a higher level protein in wheat is something grain buyers have a market for that you are unaware of. Open discussions with consumers can help farmers discover what the market is looking for.
Secondly, take time to educate the misinformed public and tell your story. The world we live in is currently two generations removed from the farm. Children no longer have a grandparent's farm they can spend time at and visualize first-hand what farming is all about. It's no secret that activist groups are voicing their ideas to the public about farmers and their practices. They can spin a story out of control to portray misleading negative information about farming to the media. What do they know? Are they out working in the barns or fields daily? Do they know the reality of farm life and farm business? The answer is no, but who does have a story to tell? Promoting programs focused on animal welfare such as the We Care Program the pork industry has adapted is just one of many examples out there that can help tell the story of what farming is truly about today.
These two components are essential for farm managers to follow through on due to some trends we are seeing in our changing world. These trends include; more dynamic commodity markets that are connected by the linkage of food to energy, supply chains that are being put to new tests by increased consumer interest to where products originate from, consumers expecting more from the food they consume to maintain their everyday health, and increasing importance of food security to everyone, everywhere. The most critical of these trends for farmers is food security concerns. The fear of unsafe food is an issue that is not going to go away, which is why regulations seem to only be getting worse for producers every year. Remember it is your responsibility to your industry and yourself to portray safe farming practices. It only takes one farmer's mistake to give the entire industry a negative portrayal of agriculture products.
As an agriculture producer, take the time to learn and react from these current trends by practicing proactive and progressive farming methods. Becoming proactive on determining what consumers want and need in order to feel good about agriculture products will make your farm management practices progressive. Also take time to tell or share your story about the reality of farming. It's hard to imagine in this rural community, but we now live in a world where farmers are a minority. Producers, if you don't tell our story, who will?