Entrepreneurs and Agriculture

July 21, 2008 03:50 AM
Cole Ehmke, University of Wyoming
Farmers the world over are very calculating managers. As individuals we deal with costs, returns and risks in very discriminating and efficient ways. Those with an interest in agriculture know and have seen the tremendous gains in productivity we have fought for over the years. In fact, within the limits of the resources we control we are that most necessary of human resources – finely-tuned entrepreneurs.
The great economist Theodore Schultz identified three characteristics that make a competent entrepreneur. He said that entrepreneurs must have the ability to:
  • perceive
  • interpret
  • take appropriate action in responding to new information
The essence of entrepreneurship is that someone must decide how to allocate the limited resources available for business given what we currently know. The very essence of entrepreneurship is that it is a dynamic venture into the unknown or partially known.
At the moment, the momentous national and global marketplace in front of us is ripe with things we could perceive as opportunities. Assuming we each have the ability to take action with our money, time and skills, then how we respond depends on how we interpret the information we see.
How we interpret things, I've found, is pretty dependent on the variety and quality of the perspective we take in each day and how well we've learned the lessons of the past. To me, this means one should be reading widely and constantly searching out the people who are best at distilling the mass of information available into relevant chunks.
In my work though, many producers are bound to tradition – a sure indicator of the need for a revitalization of the entrepreneurial spirit. So if you're one of those people who tend to say, what will be will be, then consider this a call to action so that the benefits of good entrepreneurial management can be yours.
Good insight to remember is the wisdom of Alfred Marshall, who wrote, "Knowledge is the most powerful engine of production; it enables us to subdue Nature and satisfy our wants."

Ehmke is an Extension Specialist in Ag Entrepreneurship at the University of Wyoming. You can email him at cehmke@uwyo.edu.


This article appeared in the July 17 issue of Top Producer's Moneywise eNewsletter. To sign up for a free subscription, click here.

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