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Frozen or fresh dinner?

When was the last time you ate a frozen TV dinner?  If you've had one lately, you're probably
well aware of how convenient they are -- just place in the oven or microwave.  Separate compartments house different
components of the entrée, and after a few minutes, these nuked delicacies are
ready to savor. The tray holds everything from corn to beef roast to a brownie
for dessert. Delicious! Or so some folks say.

The frozen dinner can be a metaphor for the lives of
agricultural producers.  For convenience
and efficiency, producers with many management responsibilities will often compartmentalize
duties in their lives: The production goes in one compartment of the tray. Put
the animal wellness in another. Machinery maintenance in another. Oftentimes, I
would argue, marketing is relegated to the dessert compartment--the smallest
one in the tray that gets attention for a small amount of time, only after
everything else is complete.  

One of my favorite frozen meals does not come in the
separate containers, but rather as one nice circular piece of deliciousness - chicken
pot pie.  The "pot pie" is a more
realistic image for today's agricultural producers. Why?

Inside the flaky crust is a combination of food groups--it's
nearly impossible to separate the different parts of the pie from each other.
Every day a producer must fork over time for production, machinery, management,
and marketing issues, and the marketing portion of this meal must not be
compartmentalized, but rather, brought into every day dealings as we make
decisions about our inputs, our old crop, next year's crop, cash flow, and

Your marketing will work best when you stop making it a nice
little add-on to your farming operation--something that is nice to have but not
necessary for sustenance. Actually, some of the world's best-managed businesses
make risk and opportunity management an integral part of the business mix,
essential to building a long-term sustainability and competitive advantage. They
know that volatility is not going away any time soon, and so price risk
management has to be a part of everything business decision they make.

Managing through volatile markets is a little like sauce in
a pot pie, touching every aspect of your operation.  Not as convenient as a frozen dinner, but
much better results.

In that spirit, to spice up this column a little, here's a
recipe I developed awhile back. It's not exactly chicken pot pie, but it's seasonal and the blend of ingredients is

Fresh Pheasant Phenom!

Courtesy of Naomi Blohm

1 Pheasant
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) diced tomatoes (I prefer the onion
& garlic variety)
2 packages of creamy tomato sauce mix (not canned sauce!)
2 cups white zinfandel
1 package linguine (or your favorite pasta)
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Cooking instructions:

Place pheasant meat in pot of boiling water. Boil meat for
10 to 15 minutes (cooking times vary depending on size of pheasant). Remove pot
from heat. Remove meat from bone. Shred and/or dice meat.

In a large sauce pan, combine cooked, shredded pheasant,
diced tomatoes, pasta sauce mix and white zinfandel. Stir ingredients and bring
to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Plate
pasta, top with sauce and add shredded cheese. Enjoy! And let me know what you

If you have questions, you can reach Naomi at, or
post a marketing question on the Women in Ag forum.


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