No surprise here: NCAA Tournament a hit with many Americans

Dave Bergmeier

Over the past several weeks, outside of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Americans have been following the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and they are up by double-digit ratings.

What this might be telling us is that the people want to escape the drumbeat of politics, stories about inflation and poor network programming. Those of us in farm and ranch country who want to see our favorite land-grant university in the Final Four—it’s not our year—but we’ve begrudgingly adjusted to seeing sister universities continuing to play.

The intrigue of the Final Four, where any team can make a magical run, makes for great drama and talk around the water cooler. It lets us dream about how we might celebrate if our team made the finals of the Big Dance.

The tournament represents what agriculture is about with important differences. We don’t always get everything we want but it is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Agriculture is a powerhouse but is fueled by individual operations in which operators have to make decisions that are best for them. The prize is not about being the top crop grower or livestock producer in the country, although much can be learned from decisions that go into those operations. The goal instead is about becoming the best producer with the resources available.

At High Plains Journal our staff has written many stories about profitable producers—whether as a cover or inside story or part of a panel discussion. We quickly learn there are many ways to be successful. The willingness of farmers and ranchers to share stories about their individual trials and errors and changes they incorporated has long intrigued farm writers as it does readers.

While the tournament is called March Madness, in farming and ranching the business itself has a moxie of there is method to the madness.

One of the most important provisions is to stay in touch with family, friends and associates. During the tournament teams go through up and down runs sometimes in a matter of a few minutes. The great coaches recognize they need to call a time out and make adjustments. Even the greatest players have to be told to stay with the fundamentals while making modifications. Even with near-record prices for grains and solid prices for livestock there are immense challenges that are going to require adjustments in a producer’s game plan. Any producer who has priced fertilizer for this growing season knows even small adjustments can help their bottom line.

This season will not be an easy one as much of the High Plains region continues to deal with a drought, but unlike the NCAA Tournament that is a one-and-done deal, the farmer and rancher has a long season and there will be challenges to tackle and opportunities to explore.

Following a good plan has the potential of an enjoyable Big Dance at the end of your year.

While our favorite team may not have reached the NCAA Tournament we share a common theme with the ever optimistic farmer and rancher who knows with proper preparation—there is always next year.

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