Editor’s Note: The incredible summer of 2021

Tom Button

It’s the way of things. A thought leads to a theory. An insight leads to a vision. And a great summer leads to an action plan. Welcome to a year like we’ve never seen before.

We’ve always thought summer is for field work, winter is for business management.

This year, more than ever, that’s changing.

No one needs to be told that crop production is way too complicated these days to only be done in the growing season. It’s been this way for decades.

The so-called off-season isn’t really an off-season at all. It’s an essential time for making decisions on everything from crop genetics and technology to equipment and planting strategies, plus so much more.

The same is increasingly true of business management. It’s too complex to leave until the snow flies.

It’s true on every farm, and in a way, it always has been. Summer is the time for pondering your priorities. It’s for listening to family and for paying close attention to what’s going on in the neighbourhood. Most importantly, it’s time for lifting your eyes to the horizon and thinking big thoughts.

Except now, it’s a time when many farmers will get more concrete than ever before. They’ll be mapping out the overall shape of how they can turn their business goals into achievable, measurable plans. They’ll be deciding what ideas to drop in which ears.

On many farms, words like succession and transition will get heard from time to time, and notions like farm meetings, job accountabilities and new partnerships will get mentioned, just to edge them onto the agenda.

Or maybe it’s time to raise a question about what kinds of training — for you or for others on the farm — might help drive farm performance, just so you can sort out your options before you miss the application deadlines in the fall.

It can be time too to take some different tours — whether in person or virtually — checking out crops you’ve never grown before, or to investigate livestock you’ve never raised, or marketing strategies you’ve never tested.

The first point is, a farm revolution in the past decade is the emergence of the view that business growth doesn’t have to mean huge asset commitment. At least, it doesn’t only mean that. Growth comes from management acumen too.

And the second point is, we’re increasingly seeing farms sort themselves into categories. Those that are most focused on the future are evolving at a staggering pace.

Yes, it has always been this way, to a degree, but the gap is growing and it looks primed to take a huge jump this summer in every sector, and whether large, mid-sized or small.

As Kim Gerencser says in Rebecca Hannam’s “Planning for Success” in our April 2021 issue, being smart and being dedicated are simply entry costs for today’s agriculture.

The future takes more, including all the capability that Canada’s farmers are bringing to it.

Are we getting it right? Let me know at [email protected].

About the author


Tom Button

Tom Button is editor of Country Guide magazine.



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