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near a roadway on a farm in Navasota, Texas Bob Nichols

When uncertainty reigns, focus on the future

Balancing farm’s needs and goals in these times can be challenging.

In times and seasons filled with uncertainty, it’s a human tendency to increase our focus on the short-term: what’s going on and what needs to get done. That’s understandable whether you’re talking about a global pandemic or growing season on the farm – both of which we’re currently in right now!

Tunnel vision

It can be good, in some ways, to focus our minds – and to-do lists – down to what’s immediately in front of us. We can become more aware of roadblocks as well as potential creative solutions to the problems before us.

But it can also keep us from considering the implications, impacts or second-order effects of the decisions we’re making right now. And that can cost our farm operations in ways we might not be aware of for months or years down the road.

Balance it

There’s a balancing act that the farm’s leader needs to engage in, to some degree. It’s about balancing the long and short-term needs of the operation and the decisions that must be made to support those needs.

That becomes especially important – and difficult – when the farm is operating in uncertain times. And times are quite uncertain right now for farms, in several major ways – weather, markets, global economy, political climate – you name it.

Work on this

Here are a few keys to consider as you work to keep the long-term in mind, even when things are uncertain.

  1. Keep the long-term vision up front. Does your farm have long-term goals or a long-range plan in place? Are those goals and plan documented? Does your farm have a way to track progress toward those goals? Creating a way to visualize the goals and the farm’s progress toward them can be a powerful reminder – for everyone in the operation – of what you’re ultimately working toward. It’s also a good way to keep the long-term front and center, even in a busy or uncertain time period. Regularly talking about the farm’s long-term goals and progress with employees and others in the operation is another way to help everyone keep the future in mind.
  2. Look at future impact of today’s decisions. As much as possible, try to analyze and quantify (if possible) the future impact of the decisions you’re currently making in the operation. This is best done with the major business decisions you’re needing to make while uncertainty is in the picture. Take a look at how decisions now affect the farm’s key metrics – and consider any goals you have in place for making progress in those metrics. Doing this may or may not ultimately change your decision in a major way, but taking the time to weigh out the possibilities and look at the bigger impact on your operation can help as you evaluate priorities.
  3. Remember your “why.” This might seem simple, but keeping a focus on why you chose farming as a career and what you’re most passionate about can help bring a bit more future-based outlook during stressful and uncertain times. Thinking regularly about why we farm helps put our mind in a different place and can bring a broader perspective to today’s challenges and problems.

Our market advisors are here to help and support as you walk your farm through these uncertain, challenging times. You can get in touch right now to talk with us about your farm’s situation.

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