Never take it for granted

Dave Bergmeier

As the harvest season continues, it comes with many uncertainties—health, markets, input costs and labor.

None of those concerns will ever go away, which is why it is important to have a game plan not only to finish the year but to build a base for future years—know your risks, try to plan accordingly and leave yourself leeway.

No one but the good Lord knows what’s in the future. It is the relationship one develops with the Lord that sets the table for everything else. Because farmers and ranchers and rural residents are private, they rarely discuss personal matters that can be the root of pain.

Finding the sounding board, whether it is a spouse, friend, clergy or a professional, can help prevent a small hill from becoming a mountain. That also includes during the busy season to make sure doctor’s appointments are followed to ensure physical health is in place.

Markets are so unpredictable today and not easy to navigate. Producers have more opportunities than their grandparents but they are also assume much more risk. The COVID-19 pandemic provided a giant monkey wrench for agricultural producers for much of 2020. Those once in a lifetime events only add to the anxiety.

Input costs are expected to continue to climb from fertilizer, fuel and propane—all significantly—higher than this time a year ago.

Markets and input costs are tough to project; however, putting together a good plan that offers flexibility now can help a producer to guide his farm and ranch through those very necessary put perplexing variables.

Labor costs are another variable and certainly they affect farmers and the suppliers they count on. John Deere workers in search of a new contract went on a strike and caught the eyes of the nation. The company has pledged to keep parts moving from its depots and warehouses so that dealers and farmers have access to repairs during fall harvest.

A year ago it was packing plants that were pinched by labor shortages during the height of COVID-19. That also impacted a producer’s bottom line.

Farmers and ranchers have essential employees and once fall harvest is finished it is a good time to sit down and review what went right and what needs improved.

One lesson learned over the years from successful operators is to make sure results are measured in an objective manner.

Focusing on controllable variables can provide learning experiences that are valuable for operators, family, employees, lenders and tax preparers. The unknowns are always going to be a part of the equation but having a plan to mitigate them is important.

No one likes unexpected surprises but everyone has to deal with them at some point and that’s why today’s producer has more variables than ever to deal with. He also has more insight and tools available today. Take advantage of them.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected]