Road Warrior

Young farmer offers advice to peers

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One of the most enjoyable aspects of my work is conducting young and beginning producer schools and seminars. These groups often represent the “cream of the crop” of the future of American agriculture since they are often selected by organizations to participate in the event.

 

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At a recent event in Omaha, NE, a young producer, who was first appointed to the board of directors and then elected, provided a glimpse of the type of youth with vigor that will lead agriculture in the decades to come. This young person provided some advice to his peers in the audience that was well worth capturing, which I did on the Delta Airlines napkin that was available in my pocket.

Be Engaged and Seek Advice

No one knows you better than you. The old adage was “keep your head down and don’t bother me.” This is being replaced by producers who are engaged and seek advice. Forming advisory teams is one of the fastest-growing trends amongst producers who are leaders. In this information-rich world, one can drown in data and starve for organized information. Advisory teams provide counsel that can assist in organizing and prioritizing information that can be executed given business playing field conditions. It is analogous to a quarterback listening to the team of advisors on the sidelines and then calling an audible on the play given the opportunities and challenges of the defense that this quarterback is observing.

Deal with Succession

Do not delay succession planning. It is not just for individuals entering into the late summer or fall of their business longevity, or life. It was stressed that succession planning can involve parents, grandparents, cousins, and other family members. However, succession planning can occur early in life by planning out different “but what if” scenarios to determine actions to take if something happens to a partner or critical employee, supplier, or landlord. With the top two losses in agriculture being death and divorce, contingency planning is a high priority regardless of age.

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Dave Kohl is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He can be reached at sullylab@vt.edu.

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