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Time to Shift Your Thinking

January 29, 2014
By: Sara Schafer, Farm Journal Media Business and Crops Editor
iStock Farmer and Wheat

As the ag economy swings, you should shift how you run your farm to stay competitive.


Times are changing in agriculture. The past few years have shown record prices, but now corn and soybean prices are near break-even levels for many farmers.

As these factors change, Rod Osthus, president of the R.C. Thomas Company, a seed sales training firm, says producers need to adapt. "Do you know how many businesses and farmers are caught in the paradigm of the 20th century?" he asks.

Osthus, who spoke at the Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference on Jan. 28 in Chicago, Ill., says many farmers are caught in what he calls the ag cycle. "This is ‘farmers always do what they’ve always done’," he says.

This ag cycle, Osthus says, affects farmers in these ways:

  • Takes away your ability to plan early
  • Takes away your ability to buy early
  • Minimizes the effectiveness of your decisions
  • Makes YOU irrelevant as a decision-maker
  • Takes away your ability to be a leader
  • Increases your cost of doing business
  • Makes it impossible to significantly increase production
  • Retards or stops business growth


"Luckily, every farmer can get out of the ag cycle by following four key steps," Osthus says.

1. Recognize your business is caught in the ag cycle (the past).

An example he gives is that 95% of farmers don’t want to plan for next year’s crop, especially seed varieties, until after harvest. "That’s too late," he says. "When the planter stops rolling, you need to start planning."

2. Stop relying on analogical thinking to make decisions (the past).

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COMMENTS (2 Comments)

Jason - Richard, SK
I can't believe this B.S. #3 bushels trump everything? Sorry, net returns, supply and demand with consumer acceptance trumps everything. Our net return after high interest rates, land and equipt. has never been less than 15% annually. How did we achieve this the past 30 years? We kept the dollars in our jeans and gave the industry a pittance by farming organically. Right now all I have to produce is 2 bu. of organic Flax to break even, 2 bu.!
6:14 PM Feb 10th
Cant plan early, cant buy early, decisions matter less, manager is irrelevant, cant be a leader, this guy largely full of crap and your magazine decreases its integrity by repeating the mumbo jumbo of this particular seed sales training guy after you had him at one of your conferences.
8:56 PM Jan 30th



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