As 2018 comes to a close, it’s a great time to think critically about your business. Commodity market outlooks don’t indicate a strong chance of price improvement, and unfortunately input forecasts look equally unforgiving. As farmers strive toward business profitability, goal setting can help.
Q. What’s one goal you have for your business next year?
Luke Lauritsen | Arlington, Neb.
Luke grows corn and soy- beans on 2,500 acres.
A: “My goal for next year is to be profitable. That’s the hot topic among all producers right now. We can’t control the weather, but we can control our inputs and our marketing. I think marketing will be the key for profitability in 2019. I’m hoping to be a little more cautious but also open-minded. I don’t want to be afraid to make a few more sales knowing the window is going to be tighter on the corn market. We’re in a time in ag when the window is getting tighter every year to make a decision on your crop. You don’t get two months to make a decision any more, you get two weeks to make a deci- sion for the next 12 months. The key, from a marketing standpoint, will be shooting for averages not home runs. Hoping for that extra 10¢ usually means you lose a quarter.”
Jenni Tilton | Flood, Maine
Jenni and her family own and operate a dairy, in addition to growing corn and alfalfa.
A: “Milk prices continue to be under significant pressure and from a business standpoint, next year is looking to be as tough as 2018. We’ve got a few things to do. Our goal is to drill down to the basics of running our business well. In addition, we need to make sure we keep finding new ways to provide our cows and land with what they need to be the most productive, so they can provide us with what we need. Most importantly, we need to make sure we stay engaged and involved with our peers, co-op, industry organizations, legislators and communities. We’re not going to be able to do this alone. There is no way to survive if we are silent and don’t venture out- side of our farmyards.”
Nick Ehlers | Tipton, Iowa
Nick, his dad and brother grow corn and soybeans, in addition to raising a few beef cows.
A: “Prices have taken a hit because of record yields and the tariffs. I don’t think we’ll get a tariff relief payment next year, so we have to plan around that. Our biggest goal for next year will be staying profitable. We are going to cut costs, including fertilizer. We’ll also be tougher on negotiating seed. Because our land costs are fixed, fertilizer and seed will be the two main places we’ll target. We will also look at our marketing. There’s just a lot of unknowns. We’re having a hard time getting a solid nitro- gen price. China is a main pro- ducer of urea, and they’ve cut back production. Suppliers are shy to price nitrogen because they don’t want to be too low. A lot of generic chemicals are sourced in China.”
Join Top Producer at the 2019 Top Producer Summit, which takes place Jan. 15–17, Chicago, Ill., and includes the Top Producer Seminar, Executive Women in Agriculture, Tomorrow’s Top Producer and Legacy Project Conference. Learn more and register at TPSummit.com.