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In an uncertain operating climate, do this first

Know what you can’t control – and what you can.

In today’s ag operating environment, it can start to feel like things are completely out of our control. When thinking about what’s impacting the markets and the operating environment in general, it can feel like there’s not a whole lot that we, as farm leaders, can do much about.

With the election coming up, the ongoing pandemic, the worldwide situation when it comes to the grain trade, ongoing low grain prices and the level of uncertainty that’s in the air this fall, farm leaders can start to feel anxious about their businesses. Anxiety and uncertainty often leads most people to do nothing – to not take any action – because they’re not sure what to do in the face of the unknown.

But the first step is to clearly separate out what you truly can’t control from what you can control. This is true both in terms of what goes on inside your operation, as well as your response to the factors outside of it. While you can’t control outside factors such as the markets or the outcome of political elections, you can control your response and what you will do to prepare your operation.

Sort it out

Sometimes it’s hard to separate out what’s under our control as farm leaders from the factors that aren’t. If you’ve had any anxiety about the factors at play right now in the operating environment, then you might want to try this exercise.

Set aside some time to sit down in your office with your spouse or business partners or leadership team, if others are involved in leading the operation. First, make a list of all the factors impacting your farm business and the operating climate right now.

These can be both internal factors or situations impacting your business – for example, the next generation is coming into the operation right now or we need to replace a tractor – and external ones, such as the unknowns around the political climate, the pandemic and how it all impacts world markets, grain prices and regulations.

Once you have a full list, discuss each item individually as a team. Ask and separate: What parts of this situation or item is out of our control? Then, what factors about it are under our control in some way? What can we do? Write these down, as well.

Taking action

You may find that there is actually more under your control than you initially thought. Then, the key is to create an action plan or action steps that you and your team can take to help reduce your operation’s risk exposure around each factor of uncertainty. The plans need to be clear, with timelines for action steps, assignments on who is to carry out each aspect and ways to follow up and determine when each step is complete.

One of the areas where you can work to mitigate risk and take action is in the area of creating marketing plans. Working on flexible, dynamic plans is a way to take control of what you can control around the markets. For some help and a partner in market planning and execution, get in touch with our market advisors.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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