There is less difference in production ability than in the ability to turn farm data into business savvy. That separates the top from the rest.

We recently held our annual Russell Consulting Group summer conference at Lake Panorama, IA. Clients from eight states were present and I'd like to share some of what we learned from them about risk management.

The first thing that was evident was the positive attitude among our clients. I received a call after the meeting from an Exira, IA, client who said, “It was so refreshing to meet and deal with positive and innovative people. Many people I talk to in our community are down in the mouth and complaining. I am so glad I came.”

Those attending are some of the best farmers in their area and their success, I believe, is due to their attitude more than weather, markets, government and all the others issues that plague farmers. The logic for my conclusion is that they're very successful and operate in the same environment that everyone else operates in.

Secondly, my belief was reinforced that in many cases farm wives are co-managers or the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of these farming operations.

Kurt Seevers, regional specialist for mPower3, was a guest at our meeting. He works with farmers to provide a crop source verification system from the beginning to the end of growing, harvest, storage and marketing operations.

After dinner he said: “What struck me was that I got more questions about our services from farm wives than from the guys. This is often the case when spouses are invited to these kinds of meetings.”

Farm women increasingly are the ones writing checks, keeping records, working with tax accountants, reconciling purchases with inventories and receipts and all the other tasks CFOs do.

They need tools that utilize the Internet and other state-of-the-art tools that help them do their job. Risk management not only includes doing things right from a production standpoint, but doing the right things from the management side.

I've often said, “Russell Consulting Group is here to do things a farmer doesn't like doing or is not good at doing.”

I'm learning that farm wives are responsible for many of these tasks and we work directly with them on many issues. That trend will continue.

There is less difference in production ability than in the ability to turn farm data into business savvy. That separates the top from the rest.

Lastly, Danny Klinefelter Texas A&M economist and head of the TEPAP program (The Executive Program for Agricultural Producers) was the keynote speaker. If you've not heard him speak yet, do so. Find out where he will be and get there. Better yet, sign up for his program.

One client said,” I learned more good ideas in one morning than I ever have.” Another said, “What he had to say about people management and succession plans hit me right between the eyes.”

One of the best ideas was a process and template for buying land in your community with the financial resources of a number of off-farm investors that want to own land but cannot afford a large investment. Ideas on how to pool resources and provide a win-win advantage for all parties involved was particularly insightful.


Moe Russell is president of Russell Consulting Group, Panora, IA. Russell previously spent 26 years with Farm Credit Services as a division president. For more risk management tips, check his Web site (www.russellconsulting.net) or call toll-free 877-333-6135.