"Living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquests." -- Charles Lindbergh
Is this the overlooked quote that causes many farmers and ranchers to live in the daddy-granddaddy world? I believe our dynamic business structure, with its solid foundation and continuing education, is critical when trying to make money within this industry where an average return on investment is three to four percent.
In Granddaddy's era, tracking cattle beyond the loading chute wasn't necessarily part of doing business. They raised beef calves, which went to the market for the best price on any given day. In today's business climate, we face a one-world economy and new niche markets, whereas having an auditable trail appears to becoming a key part of increasing our profits. Understanding these different niche markets and how to create a marketable product for a wide variety of retail shelves and consumer demands is an educational task that we are learning about for long-term goals on our ranch.
Is Certified Angus Beef the market to enter for long-term profitability? It appears they have a strong marketing campaign going on a national level. How about the new Dakota Certified program through the SD Department of Agriculture or Dakota Origin with the SD Cattlemen's Association? Both market beef products raised in South Dakota. And then, there is the Ridgefield Farm's program which requires certified Hereford beef. These are just a few of the marketing options that we are building into our business objectives, and will require a source verified and traceable product through eID tags.
Advertisement to buyers that we meet the criterion for each of these programs and possibly more, is the next step in selling our product. How do cattle buyers know about us and research this information? Are they listening to the auctioneer, do we sell direct, do we sell on the video market or internet, build a Web site, etc...? The 2004 sale doesn't necessarily need much marketing beyond local auction methods; however Dad and I have invested into purebred Angus cows and registered Hereford bulls, thus requiring a better advertisement program for our 2005 calf crop.
"Patience is the companion of wisdom." -- St. Augustine
This is my approach when dealing with the estate planning for our ranch. During this past month my parents met with an attorney they both trust and like. That is a major step in the right direction for assuring the possibility of Heidi and I continuing the family ranch.
In addition, I have been reading the book Passing Down the Farm -- The OTHER Farm Crisis. One word can describe this book, WOW! What a great book that I feel every multi-generation farm/ranch should own at least one copy of. It depicts exactly the key topics that we are dealing with and some we have yet to face. I plan to buy a copy for my parents to share with my off-farm siblings, which as a result, I hope, will help open the doors of communication more widely. They will see this isn't an abnormal challenge on family farms and ranches, we are normal.