One interesting definition of aggressive in the dictionary is ‘vigorously energetic, especially in the use of initiative and forcefulness.’ Most of the time when the word aggressive is used in farming, it is in connection to growth and expansion of acres. For our discussion, let’s look at aggressive in a different way. Let’s look at aggressive in regard to how energetic and innovative you are with your current operation.
Most of the farmers I know get aggressive when they are working to get their input prices down and most of the time get very creative in making it happen! But let’s look at four (4) areas of your operation that we don’t typically associate with the term aggressive, but will have just as much or more to do with your future success.
Information – Financial and Operations
The biggest difference between the top 20% and the bottom 20% of farm earners will be who pays attention to the details. To be sure; soil types, rain and heat are all critical to crop yields. But all things being equal, the top 20% are aggressive in how well they know their financial measurements and have access to key operational information.
Precision planting information, crop input costing analysis, field by field financials, machinery maintenance data, etc. are all available to any farmer that invests the time to understand, select and utilize these tools. Be aggressive in harnessing the power of information not available to farmers in the past. If you don’t invest the time and effort to apply the best solution for your operation, your profitability is at risk.
Blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence, virtual reality are all terms that are invading agriculture. If you don’t know what these technologies are and how they could be a benefit to your farm, your neighbor will and puts you at a competitive disadvantage. The recommendation is that you get aggressive in understanding how these and other technologies will become common place, soon.
It took some of you time to get comfortable with GPS and auto steer. You probably have it in your tractor because your son or daughter was aggressive in their efforts to convince you. Today, you might not trust yourself to drive the tractor without it! Don’t drag your feet with new technologies, get aggressive and see how they could benefit your farm.
Most farmers have a succession plan worked out for their operation. If you haven’t, pick up the phone now to arrange an initial meeting with your attorney, CPA and family planner to get started! While you are crafting the succession plan for your assets, get aggressive with crafting the succession plan for your farm’s decision making.
The next generation working with you on the farm wants to be more than the hired hand. Get them involved with the working end of the decisions, not just the working end of a shovel. Supportive, aggressive behavior on your part to include them in the decisions of the farm will not only help them grow but will keep them engaged with a hope towards the future.
Most farmers are, by nature, sociable and enjoy the company of their farmer friends and families. Farmers coming together providing assistance to a neighbor in time of need is legend in our country. Farmers will aggressively support family, friends and their neighbors. The recommendation is that you get aggressive in seeking out business relationships with entities you haven’t thought about previously.
Today’s consumer is driving the food chain. The consumer is driving change with their spending dollars and it is having a profound change throughout agriculture. Get aggressive by reaching out to consumer groups, retail organizations, public relations firms, etc. to learn about trends and how it affects your business. Making decisions in the future will be different than the way you made decisions in the past. Getting aggressive and making contacts with new information sources will provide a fresh look for planning in the future.
Being aggressive isn’t reckless. As a farmer, it is about expanding beyond your comfort zone and pushing into the future. Aggressively changing for the future is about making yourself open to new ideas and seeing opportunity for the challenges ahead.