Editor's Notebook: Historic Time to Manage Farm Risk

August 24, 2012 10:08 PM

The Drought of 2012, as we’ll likely call it for decades to come, is a harsh reminder of how quickly Mother Nature can change things. Smart genetics and a solid start to spring—even irrigation, in some cases—were strong-armed by blistering heat and precious little rain.

Most of us are ready to weather crop insurance audits, put the crop in the bin and put this year behind us. Next spring brings another chance. That resiliency is a bedrock of agriculture.

One Achilles heel for our industry, though, is that we’re often better at growing bushels than marketing them. I’m a bit worried about the number of farmers who have told me that this year has "taught" them to back off on marketing and sell from the combine.

There’s no doubt that getting over-sold and upside down in the market is a painful lesson and $8 corn is a powerful lure. But neither reality is a signal to cut back on marketing and risk management. Just the opposite.

This historic drought and this year’s marketing ride are actually big wake-up calls to do more to manage risk—and to get serious about a conscientious marketing plan. One farmer I visited with a couple weeks ago had it right. He said he was going to use all the time he normally spends hauling grain this fall and winter to fine-tune his marketing skills and make sure his crop insurance is
integrated into the plan.

I’d welcome hearing the steps you’re taking to do a better job of managing risk in 2013. If you’re a livestock producer, let me know how you’re navigating a tough feed supply. I won’t print your notes without asking, but I always love to hear from those we serve.

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