To all of the readers of the Globe Trotter, this will be the last column for 2003. We would like to end the year with a few thoughts and perspectives for the holiday season that may assist you in your playbook or game plan for the coming year.

  • Decide whether it has been a good year/good trend or bad year/bad trend financially.

    Don’t stop there. Examine the reasons for the results at a specific point in time.

    Case in point – the dairy industry. Was your bad year financially because of record low prices, drought, too much rain, expansion at the wrong time, or was it because of a slip in management i.e. didn’t get the cows bred back, or failure to account for a cost overrun?

    On the contrary, most of my beef industry friends are having a relatively good year. Was it a result of the closing of the Canadian border, low cattle inventory, devaluation of the dollar or the popularity of the Atkins diet? Or was it because of these factors combined with astute management practices?

  • Is your cost structure global in nature?

    Unless you have the corner on a niche market where you can establish your prices, a globalized cost structure will be critical. This winter, examine the left-hand side of your balance sheet, i.e. the assets, and determine whether they are working for you. In an environment where prices are established globally and costs are established locally, getting the most out of business and human assets will be critical. By the way, if you do have the corner on the niche market, you had better think again. The smell of profit attracts competitors!

  • The six-degree effect.

    There is an old saying that we are only six contact people away from anyone else in the world. I guess Saddam found that out! The fat man sang! However, who are the six people on your informal advisory board that take you to another level? Seek the people, events or conditions and live for that experience over the next year.

  • Agriculture is a very special industry.

    It allows us to utilize nature and people to provide a basic need for everyone in the world. Everyone who has a link to our industry needs a strategy in their personal playbook to make sure the others outside our domain know how important our industry is to the welfare of society.

We would like to wish you a Happy Holiday!

See you next year!

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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