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They would learn far more by studying the farms that year in and year out, both in good times and bad, successfully deliver commodities to the market.

John Hart, Associate Editor

December 9, 2021

2 Min Read
SARINYAPINNGAM / iStock / Getty Images Plus

They might not even think about it, but MBA students at Harvard and other prestigious schools who rely on case studies to learn about successful businesses would do well to spend time studying successful farms to learn about winning business strategies.

The case study method was popularized by Harvard Business School and is now used in most graduate business programs. MBA students analyze and examine successful companies to learn how these businesses saw a need, overcame the challenges, and met the need resulting in strong profits.

MBA students will likely think first about examining businesses that seem more glamorous than the farm, such as an Internet startup company or perhaps an online merchant. But they would learn far more by studying the farms that year in and year out, both in good times and bad, successfully deliver commodities to the market.

Getting a crop planted, harvested and off to market at a profit is no easy task. It takes a successful businessman to make it all work and successful farmers are just that. Their acumen as successful businessmen will certainly be tested in 2022 when high production costs, supply chain issues and rampant inflation will make running a successful farm business all the more challenging.

In a posting on the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Facebook Page, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler heralded 2021 as a banner year for farmers across the state with great yields, cooperative weather, and good market prices. But he is worried about 2022.

“Farmers are one of the few occupations expected to purchase at retail and sell at wholesale. Farmers also deal with the unpredictability of weather and markets all the time to feed the world and make a living doing it,” Troxler said in the Facebook post. “The volatility we’re seeing in the seed, fertilizer, and crop protection business only adds to the risk farmers assume every day.”

Indeed, the sharp rise in input costs and availability is top of mind for all farmers as they plan for 2022. Troxler notes that fertilizer prices are about 300% higher now than at this time last year. Herbicides and insecticide prices are also higher and unavailable in some cases.

The good news for Harvard MBA students and others who like to eat is that famers will persevere through the challenges. They will once again find a way to bring crops to market in 2022. It would be a great MBA case study to see just how they will get it all done.

About the Author(s)

John Hart

Associate Editor, Southeast Farm Press

John Hart is associate editor of Southeast Farm Press, responsible for coverage in the Carolinas and Virginia. He is based in Raleigh, N.C.

Prior to joining Southeast Farm Press, John was director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. He also has experience as an energy journalist. For nine years, John was the owner, editor and publisher of The Rice World, a monthly publication serving the U.S. rice industry.  John also worked in public relations for the USA Rice Council in Houston, Texas and the Cotton Board in Memphis, Tenn. He also has experience as a farm and general assignments reporter for the Monroe, La. News-Star.

John is a native of Lake Charles, La. and is a  graduate of the LSU School of Journalism in Baton Rouge.  At LSU, he served on the staff of The Daily Reveille.

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