Kip Tom is one of those people who can speak from experience. He's put together a large farming operation, and even farmed in South America. Part of his success lies in paying attention to detail. He would tell you another part of it derives form paying attention to which direction the winds are blowing in agriculture, and doing what he can to help agriculture move in the right direction.
Tom was one of the speakers who motivated 50 young couples at an informational and leadership conference hosted by Co-Alliance, Danville, recently. The meeting was held in Indianapolis, and covered an entire weekend. This is the third year that the large co-operative partnership has sponsored this type of event.
Tom, Wabash, has amassed a 15,000 acre farming operation today. But it wasn't just how to grow corps that the young farmers and their wives wanted to ask him about. He fielded question son issues such as balancing the farm with family, and how to succeed in business in an increasingly competitive, regulated environment.
"Run your operation like a business," he encouraged. "Be a vocal advocate for agriculture." That theme was repeated by other speakers and through discussion amongst the participants themselves throughout the conference.
"Be a student," Tom continued. "Invest in yourself and an on-going education. And of course, plan ahead."
Tom's own son, Kyle, was in the audience at the conference. Tom encouraged everyone there, including his son, to be prepared to protect their families and their livelihood with aggressive advocacy and careful estate planning strategies.
Aggressive advocacy may include things such as challenging the unfounded claims of far-left environmental groups, including but not limited to the Humane Society of the United States. The group fell short of its goal last year in Indiana, hoping to get the legislature to pass a wide-open bill against cruelty in dog breeding, and was upstaged when Ohio ag groups banded together to get a proposition on the ballot last fall in Ohio to create an animal standards commission. The public overwhelmingly supported it, and that process is underway. However, groups like HSUS are well funded and won't go away quietly. It appears that the group will proceed with trying to place an initiative on the Ohio ballot this fall, even after last year's setback, which would tie the hands of some animal producers in the Buckeye state.
Tom urged the younger generation to stay abreast of all these types of issues and to be advocates for the position they felt was best for agriculture in each situation.