Editor’s Note: Can you see it from here?

Tom Button

Farming is breaking through. It always used to be said — with justice — that most bad decisions on the farm get made in good times. Not anymore. In fact, it’s the exact opposite

Of course, you can’t say anything in agriculture that’s absolutely universal. So, while I’m optimistic that on most farms the coming decade will be good and sometimes even great, it won’t be for everyone. That’s just a fact.

When the bull markets of 2008 to 2012 broke the back of the decades-long price trough in farm commodities, it was true that we knew much more about what bad times do to agriculture than good times.

Now we’ve got the facts. After a decade of still volatile but, overall, more buoyant markets, we can
rewrite the text book. Now we know good times are good for farmers.

Of course there are problems still. And of course there are quandaries, and there are many real challenges ahead. Expansion is difficult; inputs and machinery are beyond expensive. Plus — and this is hard to overstate — more is on the line with every decision.

But the reality is that farm decision-making in the past decade has been exceptional.

That doesn’t mean every farm has made the same decisions in the same situations. 

Even so, the same step changes are taking place across the sector; upgraded financial analysis, a real focus on acquiring or accessing superior financial and management skills, better HR and team building... the list goes on.

I was wordier in 2008 when the bull market began, so I hope you’ll forgive the long quote, but this is what I wrote at the time, when many pundits were saying that farmers were going on a spending spree that could only end badly: “Somewhere in the land and in the barns that are being bought and sold, and in the equipment purchases, and in the new partnerships that are being formed and the old ones that are falling apart, there are the beginnings of trends that we’ll point to in 10 years with knowing nods, saying, yes, it was there for us to see even then.”

With fingers crossed that COVID will ease up this summer, I hope you’ll make a point of celebrating that future this summer.

You’ve earned it. Everyone on your team has earned it. And besides, celebrating your successes is good for your business.

Changes will come. At Country Guide, Diane Gray, our co-ordinator, is retiring after a long and valued career in ag publishing. She’s the person with the technical knowledge, the contacts and the drive to ensure each issue gets out the door. 

You have similar stories on your farm. Her insistence on excellence in her own work has always inspired the rest of us to strive for excellence in ours too.

As long as our values remain solid, though, things will change, but they’ll also remain the same.

So celebrate. Have a party. Set up a bequest. Be proud. The next future is just over the horizon.

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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