We’ve all grown up with the idea that agriculture progresses by step changes, and that these step changes are identified by the technologies that have driven them.
Think of the breakthroughs in farm machinery and how they have made it possible to harvest more acres of higher-quality crops per person than could ever have been imagined before.
Or think of the chemical revolution, with the development of fertilizers, crop protection and animal health. Or think of genetics, or electronics.
Today, though, the biggest step change we’re in the midst of is the change in the nature of farmers themselves.
Partly, this is a change in the economic wherewithal of our farms. Despite some worrying trends that we will write about in more depth beginning next issue, our farms are able to make more decisions than ever before based on choice, not on financial constraint.
More, though, the change is due to an evolution in the farmer as the person with the capability of taking multiple sources of world-class scientific, financial and management input and moulding it into one high-performance family business entity.
I don’t mean to denigrate previous generations of farmers. There have always been brilliant farmers, and there have always been farmers with extraordinary vision and with an incredible determination to succeed.
But today’s farmers are different. They are more capable.
Nor is it just because the technology is more capable. Instead, it’s that the farmers in the middle of it all are able to understand what the technology can do and what the technology can tell them, and they are putting it all together for the good of the whole.
Similarly, farmers understand much more about financial management and all the tools that come with it, and they understand much more about family dynamics than ever before.
I shake my head in disbelief sometimes that we are running stories in our November 2017 issue of Country Guide that range from “Success Story” at the beginning to “C’mon, Get Happy” at the end, with “Two Minds” in the middle, all because these are the kinds of stories that our readers tell us they want to read.
It wasn’t that way at the start of my career.
Not every reader sees the same value in every story, of course, but we hope our focus on business is supporting some of your thinking on the farm.
Yes, this most recent step change is creating its own challenges. We’ll look back at some of the things we’ve done and wonder why. But this is a great moment in farm history.
As always, I hope you’ll take a minute to let me know if we’re getting it right or where we may be off the track. I’m at [email protected].