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10 perspectives on ag business from a college student10 perspectives on ag business from a college student

David Kohl 2

May 20, 2015

2 Min Read

A trip to speak at a women’s convention in the Quad Cities was a highlight of this winter’s speaking circuit. The first evening’s event was not for women only, and one of the attendees had invited her son, who is enrolled in community college, to attend the evening event with her. They represented a family farm that had attended many of my sessions over the years. The old professor did not let the young man off the hook! I gave him an assignment to complete during their nearly two hour drive home that evening. His assignment was to come up with 10 perspectives from my speech and give them to mom to turn in when she returned the next morning. As he left the convention that evening, I was not sure if he would follow thru on my request, but, sure enough, first thing the next morning, mom came beaming in with a smile on her face carrying a written list. Here is a quick summary from this millennial student.


  • First, he learned moderation in farm family living cost is a key to success. The difference between high and low groups’ family living cost is approximately $60,000, which is a considerable amount of free cash flow.

  • Second, kids should pay for part of their advanced education because they will be more engaged, appreciate it more, and attend classes, which the young man noted was an issue at his school.

  • Next, there is hope for the next generation that knows technology and exhibits old-time work habits. This young man did exhibit those in our brief time together, proven by his follow thru on the assignment.

  • After a good profitable year, place one year’s debt payments or at least two months’ worth of average business expenses in the bank.

  • Attempt to distance yourself from two types of people: know-it-alls who have forgotten how to learn, and victims who blame everyone else for their problems.

  • Know your cost of production and financial figures. He indicated that he was receiving good education in this area at his community college. On a side note, I observed a lady on CNBC’s Shark Tank who was denied capital because she did not know her cost of production and financials.

  • Surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude and who have been successful; in this case, a good mentor.

  • Strive for your business to be better before you get bigger. This is very appropriate given the current economic climate in agriculture.

  • Seek balance in business and life, and occasionally stop to smell the roses along the way.

  • His final point was Ph.D. – piled higher and deeper, a dig at the professor! I hope I gave him some Philosophy so that he could go Higher and Deeper as he enters his family business!

This mom should be very proud of her son. I hope he appreciates her driving extra hours so he could receive some food for thought.

About the Author(s)

David Kohl 2

David Kohl

Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at [email protected].

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