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Business Skills for Young Farmers

March 2, 2011
 
 

The 2011 Tomorrow’s Top Producer program focused on business education to help farmers age 35 and under grow their businesses, manage employees and hone their marketing skills.

"I came for the education, but mostly I like talking to other top farmers and hearing their stories," says Benjie Stranz of Westfield, Ill.

Stranz was among the 200 attendees who gathered in Chicago in late January on the eve of the Top Producer Seminar to network with young producers and learn from other farmers, market analysts and experts from across the nation.

Read the following highlights from the event and mark your calendar now for the Top Producer Summer Seminar, which will also include a Tomorrow’s Top Producer track. The event will be held June 7 and 8 at the Isle of Capri Conference Center in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Manage Like a CEO

Who is the boss on your farm? Does that person only "boss" others or does he or she manage them?

Dick Wittman of Wittman Consulting says the key to creating strong leadership for a farm or ranch is to clearly define goals, values, mission and vision for the operation.

"Not having a plan can be one of the most devastating things for most families," Wittman explains.

Once everyone knows the direction the farm is headed, the right people can be empowered to work together as a team to lead the operation.

Wittman says that an ideal manager:

  • is a facilitator, not a boss;
  • empowers people and doesn’t micromanage;
  • focuses on people, resources, information and technology;
  • thinks strategically;
  • promotes teamwork, positive thinking and professionalism; and
  • is willing to be held accountable.
     

"Above all, you need to avoid bossing," he advises.
 

Work On Your Business, Not Just In It

Farmers are known for their work ethic and tireless labor. But your farm will often benefit more from time spent working on your business, not just in it, says Darren Frye, president and CEO of Water Street Solutions.

Frye challenges young producers to recognize when they are playing the role of entrepreneur, manager or technician on the farm. He says technician jobs, such as planting, livestock chores and marketing, can be hired out, but a business owner must focus on building and communicating a business plan and vision for the future.

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FEATURED IN: Top Producer - March 2011

 
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