Mortal Sins of Marketing
These articles are good to read, and they seem to provide practical advice. However, I disagree with one of the basic tenets—know your break-even.
For instance, my corn break-even for 2009 is going to be about $5/bu. So what good does that do [if prices are below that level]? Do I just sit and hope that corn goes to $5 or $6? And if it doesn't, do I just keep my corn into 2011?
Response: The advisers we featured in December agree that the market will not take your cost of production into account. Beyond that, their responses range from use of specific pricing tools to strategic planning. Here's a taste:
"First, make sure you buy the right level of crop insurance,” advises Randy Martinson of Progressive Ag. "This not only can protect in the case of losses, but also allows you to market better. Second, buy puts to limit losses.”
"My suggestion is diversification of marketing decisions,” says Scott Harms of Archer Financial. He mentions as examples seasonal pricing programs and advisory service recommendations.
Licensed to Till
(November 2008, Perspective)
You must live in a fantasy world. Car drivers are licensed, yet we have car wrecks. Doctors are licensed, yet we spend millions in malpractice lawsuits every year. Going to college does not mean you will be qualified to farm. I would argue it hurts you: You're wasting valuable time that could be spent building relationships with banks and input suppliers, and missing out on the ever-so-important "Experience.”
I think we should license journalists; letting just anyone on TV or behind an editor's desk is just asking for trouble.
Devin, via e-mail
The Next Lost Generation
(November 2008, Top Line)
I have a hard time believing that you can honestly think that the future you predict is sustainable or ethical, for that matter. Take a look at the economy and state of affairs our country is in right now. Policy has allowed a top-heavy system to control and profit from the market only to find out that it fell like a house of cards. I predict that agriculture will be the next victim in the saga. We are consolidating farms, the seed industry, the grain industry, up and down the line.
It is no surprise who butters your bread. All you have to do is flip through your magazine and look at who your advertisers are and it is easy to see that your magazine is no more than another infomercial for big business in agriculture.
I suggest you pull your head out of the sand and look at the big picture. Let's work to bring some real change to agriculture. Change is on the horizon for agriculture, and it is a long time coming.
Groundwater Management Area Specialist,
Lower Elkhorn NRD, Nebraska
***The opinions reflected in the letter are my personal opinions and not necessarily those of my employer.
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Top Producer, January 2009