Note: I'm putting together a farming photo slideshow while reading the last page (below) from new book "Tough Times Never Last Tough Farmers Do". If anyone has any good farming photos they don't mind being used please send prior to Nov 9 to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
Tough Times Never Last, Tough Farmers Do.
On most family farms we have a business culture of being tough with one another. We have power struggles and competition to see who gets their way. Yet this behavior is destructive and causes farms to loose potential profitability. Your family needs to do everything you can to stop butting heads and start pulling in the same direction. This truck pull style of farm management is wasting time, burning money and frustrating family relations. You got to get everyone pulling in the same direction. You first also need to identify where that direction is.
You first have to define what the farm is all about and where it is going. You then got to change how you make decisions together so you are able to get from where you are at, to where you want to go quickest.
You look at statistics of farming & you’ll quickly realize that in the past 200 years less than 50% of family farms survive. You have to admit to yourself that there is less than a 50% chance that you will succeed. In fact, if you look at the technology coming down the pipeline like robotic milker and self-driven tractors, the reality is that for the next generation of farmers only 20% of farms might survive. You’ve got to realize you are the underdog. It’s only by making changes to how you change that you’ll survive!
Everyone thinks of farming like a country music video, with a farm boy driving his tractor up and down the corn field. For some of you driving a tractor during the spring rush might be your favorite job, but it isn’t what farming is. 20 years from now you might not be even driving a tractor. Farming is always changing. The one thing that remains constant isn’t the activities but the challenge of overcoming the impossible.
Think about the pioneers who settled your farm. They probably came with nothing more than what you could fit into a wheelbarrow. They probably came late in the season and didn’t know what they were doing. But when they got to your farm, there was no turning back. They either had to make it work or die. They probably came to your farm with big dreams, but there was a strange moment when they realized that they were all alone and up the creek. There is no Calvary coming! It’s just you alone that is going to make this work. They had to solve overwhelming problems to create what you have today.
Everyone is going to hit an unanticipated problem in their farm’s history. There are simply going to be things that no matter how good of a manager you are, that you are going to be blindsided by. If you are a farmer, there isn’t any question that you are going to be hit by a few critical crisis in the farm’s history but when. The issue isn’t when you are hit with a problem, but HOW you deal with it. What separates the boys from the men in farming? It isn’t your balance sheet, how hard you work or how much you know about agronomy. When you think about it, it isn’t the size of farm you start off with because there are many big players from the 60’s that aren’t around today. It’s your ability to deal with problems and turn them into opportunities. It’s your character of how you react to bad news and bad times brings out the best in you. It’s also how you as a family come together to make/execute good decisions in bad times.
Don’t wait until these bad times hit to retrofit how you deal with problems. Because by then it will be too late. You’ve got to take your family’s farm management from good to great today. Be proactive. Because by doing so it will make your farm more profitable today and also a better place to work day to day with your family. It’ll make farming fun again. Instead of focusing on being tough with your partners, focus on building a tough business culture where your family is constantly evolving for the better and your family can take on whatever the world throws at you.
Tough Times Never Last, Tough Farmers Do.