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Executive Women in Farming

January 8, 2014
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“U.S. Farm Report” hosts a marketing roundtable to discuss factors that are moving the markets.   

Conference brings together farm women from around the U.S.

Working to hone their business, marketing and human relation skills, more than 250 women representing 30 states traveled to Chicago for the third annual Executive Women in Agriculture (EWA) Conference.

"It’s no longer just brawn required on the farm," says Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer editor. "More opportunities exist for women to own and operate farms and ag-related businesses."

Like-minded women gathered to learn about marketing, how to find and keep the best employees, tax pitfalls to watch for, what financial documents to keep and marketing yourself for the bank. Below are a few highlights. —Julie Deering

Your Files, Anywhere on the Farm

There are two things you need to make your farm go paperless—a killer scanner and a Dropbox account. Dino Giacomazzi, dairy producer and technology guru, says his farm has grown in efficiency by having all of his documents in one place.

Dropbox allows you to share folders with people so you can work together on projects and documents. You can invite friends, family or teammates to a folder.

"It’s as if you saved the folder to their computers," Giacomazzi says. But first, you need a really good scanner. He recommends the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Scanner for PC or Mac, which sells for about $400.

On his farm, when bills come by mail, they go to an inbox and then go in the scanner. Once they are scanned in, the documents are filed in Dropbox. "Today, we don’t have to file any papers in folders. Everything that comes in is tagged, filed based on characters, and can be searched by farm or field," he says.

Giacomazzi shares his Dropbox with his dairy nutritionist, dairy testing company and veterinarian. "When my dairy nutritionist comes to the farm and writes a new recommendation, he can put it in Dropbox and everyone can see it," he says.

Answering a question from an attendee about security, Giacomazzi says the weakest link in your security chain is you. "Do not give anyone who calls you any information, and make sure you have a strong password," he says. DropBox has military-grade encryption. Other benefits of Dropbox include:

  • Instantly synchronize your computers, phones and the Dropbox website.
  • Starts at 2 GB for free and up to 16 GB with referrals.
  • Your files are always available from the secure Dropbox website.
  • Works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry.
  • Allows you to work offline. —Jeanne Bernick

Take Control of Grain Marketing and Manage Risk

A risk manager advises Executive Women in Agriculture how to plan for 2014 profit margins.

In the face of 2014’s "extraordinary risk" for grain farmers, marketing is critical to maintaining profit margins, says a senior risk manager.

"Too many farmers focus only on production and don’t pay enough attention to price," says Kim Burton with Top Third Ag Marketing.

"The time of year does not and should not dictate when you market your grain," she adds. "Some of your best marketing opportunities occur well before harvest."

She urges grain farmers to be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to marketing their crop. Options can be used to manage risk and give advantages that other marketing techniques don’t. For example, the only money you have at risk is the option premium, commission and fees. Put options also protect your downside price risk but allow for upside potential.

Call options allow you to sell cash grain but also keep your foot in the door to take advantage of price increases, she says. They give the buyer the right but not the obligation to buy (or "go long") a particular futures contract at a specific time during the life of the option.

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FEATURED IN: Top Producer - January 2014

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