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January 2005Embracing technology

Agriculture.com Staff 07/07/2010 @ 9:09am

"Experimental", "Strange", "Futuristic" ... Are you any of these? Good or bad, these are adjectives that someone has described directly to me, about me, when I explain my plans for our ranch. Our future holds animal ID, niche marketing, broadband access and a wireless ranch network, GPS farming, genetic herd rebuilding, etc.

I am amazed by the number of young people I meet in production agriculture that do not take advantage of technology and the power of the Internet. I am even more shocked when I listen to young cattlemen having closed minds to opportunities, yet they are attempting to build a beef business in the 21st Century. Learning from history is an excellent way to build risk plans for the future, dwelling in the past stunts progress. We are living in a technology society, and production agriculture must stay up to speed. A George Burns quote: "Look to the future, because that is where you'll spend the rest of your life."

While writing this article I am sitting in my office with my two-year old son on my lap. Heidi has gone to Rapid City to shop for items she cannot easily buy online. My son and I are watching the Ft. Pierre bred cow sale via the Internet and an Angus bull sell on the satellite TV. A compromise brought about only through technology. You see, I didn't travel to either sale, saving gas, and the kids stay at home with me; and Heidi has a day in town with a friend.

Our ranch will become as technologically advanced as the cash flow allows, not hindered by close minds. We have our official premise ID number to implement an eID system, in addition to applying for the SD Certified Beef program. If you are a SD producer, get informed and involved in the SDCB program.

Having had teams of horses who start and stop at the command of his voice, sometimes Dad will shake his head with a smile and I'm sure he would like to call me strange. One day while visiting his grandkids, my father came into our house to find me camped on the floor with my laptop writing computer code ... He chuckles, and asks with a smile, "Working hard?" Key to the continuation of our multi-generational operation is that I would never hear from my parents: "NO, not on this ranch you're not going to do that." My parents are grounded, conservative people; yet they are open to new affordable concepts. We now share a calendar in my parents' porch showing tasks and events we need to complete or attend for the health and future of our operation.

Upcoming events on our ranch include: 1) Mom and Dad are taking a much earned vacation to Maui, HI for ten days. 2) We have scheduled an appointment with an insurance and estate planning rep to review affordable plans. 3) We are bangs/vaccinating our first set of home raised heifers. While it is only a small group, it symbolizes the beginning of our first-cross program. 4) Birthday parties for Kendra to be four and Parker to be three.

Wrapping up this month, I would request that any of you reading this article sit down with a member of the opposite generation than yourself who is, or would like to be, active in production agriculture. Ask them the following: Where do you see the future of agriculture in three, five and ten years; and how can it be better for your generation today? "Listen openly" and "verify" you understand their response not your opinion. Then switch ... the more you ask, the greater the appreciation you'll have for the opposite generation. We can shape the face of rural America for the future, but we must do it together.

"Experimental", "Strange", "Futuristic" ... Are you any of these? Good or bad, these are adjectives that someone has described directly to me, about me, when I explain my plans for our ranch. Our future holds animal ID, niche marketing, broadband access and a wireless ranch network, GPS farming, genetic herd rebuilding, etc.

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