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Manager's Corner

08:14AM Jan 04, 2017

By Anna-Lisa Laca

3 Steps to Take Before Making Capital Purchases

When money is tight, farmers tend to analyze past capital purchases. Maybe you bought a used feed truck, made $30,000 in repairs and question whether you should have obtained a vehicle with fewer hours. 
Whatever the case, says dairy specialist Matt Lange of AgStar Financial Services, three steps can help you think through capital purchases for 2017.

1. Determine if the purchase is necessary. Lange advises asking three important questions. If the answer to all three is “yes,” there’s good reason to make the purchase, he says. 

  • Will the purchase replace poor-performing equipment?
  • Does this purchase help with part of a larger expansion? 
  • Does the purchase increase the efficiency of farm production?

2. Prioritize purchases. Unless the purchase is necessary to meet specific goals tied to expansion or efficiency, it might not hurt to wait, Lange says. Create a five-year plan and buy iron as target purchase dates occur.

3. Manage assets appropriately. If you use some cash for the purchase, don’t let it compromise your cash position down the road. “If I do this, what may it prevent me from doing later down the road?” he says.  

By Nate Birt

I-State Flyover: A Rural Comparison

Some of the top U.S. agricultural hubs are the I-States of Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. We matched up data from USDA’s Economic Research Service about life in each state’s rural communities to better understand the similarities and differences among them. 


Cash In On Business Knowledge

This year, make your New Year’s resolution pay by attending one or more of these upcoming events from Farm Journal. Our experts will help maximize your investments and streamline your operation.

Jan. 24–27: Top Producer Seminar in Chicago Join us for preconference risk management training, then spend three days capturing valuable business intelligence from experts in leadership, finance, policy, communication and more. Attend the Wednesday night banquet as we introduce our three Top Producer of the Year finalists.

Feb. 5–7: TPEN Signature Event in Phoenix (invitation only) Designed to reinforce peer networks and advance individual learning, the Top Producer Executive Network (TPEN) Signature Event features one-on-one time with experts and top operators from across the U.S. and Canada. Build relationships within your peer group.

July 20–21: Tomorrow’s Top Producer in Nashville For producers 40 and under, there’s no better place to meet peers and glean sound business advice than our annual conference for young farmers. Learn communication skills, commodity marketing strategies and much more.

Register at

By John Phipps

Automation Is Redefining Work, And There Isn’t A Clear Solution 


As senior economist for The Economist magazine, Ryan Avent has more than sufficient literary skills in hand to tackle perhaps the largest problem facing modern societies: What if there is not enough work for all people? With clear and witty prose, his book “The Wealth of Humans” describes with data and anecdotes how jobs from pipefitter to paralegal are relentlessly disappearing as technology continues an exponential advance. His descriptions of the incursion of artificial intelligence into the territory of knowledge-workers such as radiologists, educators and even computer programmers outline the rapidity and scope of our core labor problem.

Like all of the other authors I have read who tackle this issue, he sees no clear solution. Although he advocates for better wealth distribution, basic social-services access and more education, he acknowledges there is little evidence that can make us feel confident in their efficacy. Moreover, the psychological values of work, such as self-worth and purpose, are hard to replicate. If nothing else, this clear description of the enormity of the challenge of finding work for all might prompt new ideas. For now, though, the sobering picture of future employment is worrisome. Certainly, readers will look at their own jobs with more appreciation. 

By Nate Birt

Data Show Federal Crop Insurance Coverage Is Widespread and Growing

Producers now enjoy federal crop-insurance coverage on more than eight in 10 planted acres for major crops. They also have access to an expanded suite of coverage options, according to 2016 numbers from USDA’s Risk Management Agency. Here are some of the most eye-catching figures from the agency. 



Podcast of the Month: American Countryside

A new year provides plenty of excitement about the possibilities that lie ahead—and not a little heartburn about the steps needed to reach ambitious goals. If things get stressful, turn to “American Countryside” for a breath of fresh air. Part of the Farm Journal family, the show tours rural America to meet interesting people, such as a woman who once baked 30,000 cookies. These 3-minute episodes are a perfect escape. Listen via the Farm Journal Radio app from the Apple and Google Play stores.

By the Numbers: Golden Arches

$6.42B McDonald’s revenue for the period ending Sept. 30

14,000 McDonald’s restaurants throughout the U.S.

130 Stores in which McDonald’s is using fresh beef instead of frozen patties