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Top 6 New Year’s Resolutions for Farmers in 2018

Successful Farming asked a handful of farmers, agribusiness experts, and Extension educators what was on their list of goals in 2018. Here are their answers.

1. Get super serious about marketing

“We have been blessed with awesome crops this year, and I have to admit I have done a poor job of marketing. My New Year’s resolution is to focus more on the basics of marketing and locking in profits when the market presents itself. We got lazy as farmers during the lucrative years, and poor marketers were rewarded,” says Al Witt, who farms in Osage, Iowa.

Tim Meyer with the Producers Livestock Credit Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, adds, “My suggestion for farmers in 2018 would be to manage risk with a protective mentality that allows you to capture any upside potential the market may offer. Profitable pricing opportunities do not come along often and must be rewarded when available. In these challenging times, you need to adopt a mentality of survive and advance. Take the necessary steps in your marketing plans to ensure that you survive – one year at a time.”

2. Cut costs

“I am always talking to beef producers about reducing expenses. Profit = Income – Expenses. I feel that beef producers have way more control over the expense side of that equation than they do profit. That’s not to say that they can’t influence the income by making changes, but I believe the expenses offer more opportunity,” says Kable Thurlow, Michigan State University Extension – beef educator.

“One way to cut costs is to graze more days than you did last year. Grazing is about half the cost of feeding stored forages, so any day you can graze vs. feed stored mechanically harvested forages is a plus!” he adds. “Know your cost of production and income on a per cow, per cwt calf weaned, and per-acre basis. Work to identify areas where you can cut your costs of production.”

Brent King, GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group in Kansas City, Missouri, encourages farmers to be the most efficient producer. "Diligently quantify costs and persistently manage your farm to achieve maximum productivity at minimum cost.” 

3. Ask for help

“Keep learning! Review last year’s crop performance. Review last year’s marketing performance. Seek inputs (ask specific questions) from your local consultants, crop advisory, and Extension specialist. Most are glad to provide advice,” says Dick Funt, professor emeritus in the department of horticulture at The Ohio State University. “Triangulate your information. This means if you hear and read about the same answer from three different people or sources, that information is most likely good.”

4. Commit to conservation

“My goal in 2018 is to continue increasing our conservation practices,” says Jim Cuddeback, a farmer from Washington, Iowa. "We are currently in the process of adding 8,000 feet of tile terraces on one farm. We plant cereal rye cover crops on all of our cornstalk acres hoping to capture any nitrogen that might be left and keep it out of the ground water and tile lines. We no-till both corn and soybeans in the spring. We have enrolled all but a few acres of our HEL land in the Conservation Reserve Program.”  

5. Stay positive, share positive

“My New Year’s resolution is to challenge myself and others to wade through all the negativity that seems to easily come to the forefront,” says Makenze Cortum, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company in Des Moines, Iowa. “See and share the positive in our industry. There is so much to be excited about when it comes to the future of agriculture! The more we focus on the positive, bright future of the industry, the more we move the needle!”

Joe Parcell, interim director at the division of applied social sciences at the University of Missouri, encourages farmers to share their story. “Farmers should speak up and tell their story of how great farming is for raising a family, sustaining community, and feeding persons from different cultures around the globe. Every farmer needs to be an advocate for agriculture.”

6. Follow the basics

Bruce Sherrick, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois, gives these six tips for following the basics in 2018.

  1. Manage input costs – keeping good records is key.
  2. Crop insurance decisions are critical. Invest in evaluation of alternatives, not just use of last year’s product.
  3. Marketing matters, so resolve to be intentional about managing inventories and pricing opportunities.
  4. Evaluate new technologies and practices carefully. Many do hold the promise to improve productivity.
  5. Evaluate your financial structure and make appropriate financial decisions.
  6. Enjoy being part of the greatest industry on the planet. Take pride in the fact that we do more with less to provide the most plentiful, safest, and most affordable food in the world, and in the history of the world. 

What would you add to this list? We want to hear from you. Email betsy.freese@meredith.com, and we will add to the list!

 

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