The global agriculture industry has been up and down for decades, and many South Dakota farmers today know that these are down times. Some economists claim that today’s environment represents the worst of times for farmers and ranchers, struggling as meat processors and dairy buyers shut down.
The agriculture industry has weathered difficult times, and, for some, the latest challenges are nothing new. Farming is business, and every astute and prepared farmer or businessperson understands the risks they face. Whether a small-, medium- or large-sized farm, each operator faces similar challenges raising crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat as well as livestock such as beef and dairy cattle and sheep as well as poultry.
Anticipate, prepare and be realistic
Success is a relative term in the agriculture industry. While dedication and the right financing can help you achieve some stability, preparation really holds the keys to success. Here are some things to keep in mind during these uncertain times within the agriculture industry:
- Anticipate for good times and bad times: This is at the root of preparation and strategic planning. Going into farming, you knew how cyclical the industry can be. Your research proves essential in understanding markets, supply and demand, your maximum amount of debt and how much cash reserves are necessary.
- Consider alternative crops and products: The South Dakota standards include corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, oats, barley, flaxseed, beef cattle, sheep, hogs, dairy products, turkeys and eggs. But it is crucial to lead and follow the market. That is why supplementary crops such as hops, honey, sunflowers and goat meat are viable options.
- Have a succession plan in place or know when it is time to sell: An option includes passing the farm onto other family members, whom you hope will continue an agriculture legacy. But, sometimes, your hand is forced. As crop prices derail and debt mounts, selling the farm remains a painful option.
Farmers are smart and hard-working risk takers. They take calculated risks, most of which work in their favor. However, they also are realistic. Planning and preparation can lead to success. However, other times, things out of their control may force them to leave the only occupation and life they have known.