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Roadblocks and opportunities

Your attitude will determine your success in 2018.

What roadblocks do you see for the future of your farm?

How you answer that reveals a lot about your attitude and approach to your business. Some farmers see roadblocks and blame others, while some seem headed for prosperity no matter how low commodity prices go.

One man’s roadblock is another man’s opportunity.

In our most recent survey we asked readers that question. Of course, low commodity prices, lack of access to land, and a lack of access to working capital all scored high. Fair enough.

Interestingly, farmers themselves don’t see their own abilities as a possible cause of future roadblocks. Three categories - lack of management experience, management knowledge, and ability to manage data - got very low marks. Even more illuminating were the comments that came back with this question. Some folks blamed pretty much everyone else for their woes:

“Large farms taking up land at any price, investor groups buying up land at top prices keeping me from expanding.”

“Poor succession planning by parents.”

“Lenders who don't understand agriculture.”

“The next generation. They caused banks to tighten up credit due to their lack of work ethic and love of technology.”

Really?

The optimists offered a very different outlook. “I expect a plethora of opportunities, having the capital to take advantage will be the challenge,” one wrote. “I will be fine,” another one said.

Mind you, these were all answers to the same question.

It’s not too difficult to conclude that the farmers who don’t expect to do well in 2018 probably won’t. And because they blame everyone else for their woes, they will do nothing to change their habits, skillsets or the direction of their business in order to right the ship.

That’s a shame, because generally, our surveys show farmers remain upbeat despite this ag economy. In 2016 we asked if they agreed with the statement, ‘Overall, the next 20 years will be profitable for agriculture.’ Three-fourths of respondents agreed. When we asked them the same question at the end of 2017, only 66% agreed.

A recent study funded by the Illinois Soybean Association zeroed in on the management strategies of highly profitable soybean farmers. Those who did well ranked the top four factors important to profitability: attention to detail, operating cost management, maximizing yields and disciplined spending.

My takeaway? If you know the management secrets that make money, you’ll have a positive attitude no matter where prices go. And you’ll see opportunities where others see roadblocks.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.

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