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Managing through turbulent times

Three thoughts for farm leaders in the coming weeks.

It has certainly been a wild ride in all respects over the past few weeks – stemming from the spread of the novel Coronavirus throughout the U.S. Many things have changed very quickly, and daily life suddenly looks and feels much different now for most American families due to closures, shortages and quarantines.

With the 2020 planting season quickly approaching, farm leaders – like most people right now – are facing a great deal of uncertainty, with the added task of successfully running their businesses. I believe that farm leaders are working to make the best decisions they can in light of the information they have at the time – just as they always have.

Three thoughts

As you sort out what the current situation and its effects mean for you and your farm business in the coming weeks, here are three thoughts to keep in mind as you lead.

  1. Keep calm. It sounds obvious, but it’s best not to let emotions – particularly fear and anxiety – rule in decision-making. Decisions grounded in information and facts can help keep such emotions at bay. Keep in mind that at times – like most Americans right now – you will probably feel some fear or anxiety at times about the large amount of uncertainty at play in your business, the markets and the global economy. But acknowledging that you feel some level of anxiety is very different than allowing it to steer decision-making in your business. Be smart and informed when making business management decisions for your farm and your employees. It may be helpful to talk through the current market situation with one of our market advisors.
  2. When in doubt, go back to the basics. I’m thinking here about the basics of running your farm business well: growing a great crop, staying on top of your farm’s financials, running your business by the numbers, having and executing a proactive marketing plan. You need to keep doing these basics really well, even during times when uncertainty surrounds you and your business. These are the “base hits” that, if done consistently and done well, add up to business success in the long term. It can be tempting to feel distracted or even unable to make basic decisions for your business, at times. Talking the situation through with a business partner, spouse or trusted advisor can bring some clarity.
  3. Look for silver linings. In times of great volatility such as a Black Swan event like the current situation, there can also be great opportunity. The key is knowing your operation’s financial situation inside and out – and then being ready and prepared to take advantage of market opportunities that may arise. Seeing all the negative news and plummeting markets, in the face of uncertainty we might feel powerless and do nothing. But the reins are back in our hands when we seek out – and act on – opportunity the market may give us within a turbulent time. The key is looking at different scenarios and knowing what you would do, given your farm’s unique needs and situation, if scenario A, B or C were to happen. It’s all in the preparation and readiness.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
TAGS: Management
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