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Rachel Stevens and John Evans

Unprecedented planting season calls for more communication

When times get tough, the more communication – the better

This planting season, we as farm leaders might be having a couple different types of responses to our situation. One response might be to communicate more with others – especially our advisors, vendors, lenders, agents – those who can provide support and information and be a sounding board for our decision-making.

When we do this, we’re actively seeking how we can make the best possible decisions for our operation or at least mitigate loss in a tough situation, if not turn it into a successful one. This might also mean more communication with family members and friends who understand our situation and can provide some of the emotional support we need when we’re under a lot of pressure.

Do we need to talk?

On the other hand, sometimes it can be tempting and seem like an easier choice to withdraw – to close off completely from others when things aren’t going so well. Farm leaders might do this for a couple reasons.

First, it may seem better to not talk about a bad situation because discussing it makes reality seem even more real. Also, we might not believe anyone else can truly help us or understand our situation and what we’re going through this spring.

It’s understandable that a leader might want to “shut down” or “go dark” on communicating with others when facing a tough situation and big decisions. We might believe it’s just better not to talk about it very much.

However, doing so only makes a hard situation worse – and failing to act now could cause our business bigger problems down the line. Isolating ourselves is one of the worst things we can possibly do when trying to deal with big decisions during an unexpected spring scenario.

Build your team

As leaders, we especially need information, advice and support for our decision-making from others who understand farming and ag in general, as well as our unique farm operation. They need to be experts on the current situation farmers are facing, as well as knowledgeable on the exact impacts for your operation. If you’re not getting that kind of support, now is the time to reach out.
Smart farm leaders are building an advisory support team around themselves. Farming can be isolating and lonely enough, especially when you’re the leader who’s responsible for key decisions about crops and marketing plans. If you don’t already have a team of advisors who regularly serve as a sounding board for decisions – or just to talk things through – it’s time to get that group in place.

You might reach out to a friend or family member – perhaps one who has farmed in the past or currently farms – who isn’t part of your operation and has an outside perspective. Maybe you reach out to a business advisor who understands farming. They can help talk through the planting challenges you’re facing and the decisions you need to make. You can talk with an advisor today.

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

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