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Creating opportunity

FG Editor Darren Olsen Published on 24 May 2010

When it comes to breaking through with a successful business adventure, agriculture can be one of the toughest nuts to crack.

If someone is able to get started, they are more often than not at the mercy of the elements and markets to create a combination of wins over losses to keep them going.

The learning curve for agriculture is oftentimes a steep one, and many individuals have made choices where unintended consequences have resulted in catastrophic failure. More recently, I have seen some great producers fall victim to the economic downturn, forcing them to leave the industry they love.

Through it all, however, there remain those who are able to keep things together and move forward. It hasn’t been easy for anyone these past 18 months, but 2010 is looking to be a year that will help ease what has been something most producers would like to forget about.

In almost every case of success, these past few years or before, there seems to be the recurring theme of opportunity that comes into the conversation with these producers.

They don’t give credit to fate or luck, rather to the variety of situations they were able to work into by remaining positive and looking for the right opportunities.

There are so many metaphors and sayings related to opportunity. I won’t take time here to state them. Rather, there are two points about taking hold of opportunity that should be noted.

First, most producers who find opportunities find them off-farm. While marketing might not be your forte, staying behind the tractor during the summer and desk during the winter will not do you any favors unless you take some needed time connecting with individuals.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of “If you bale it, they will come” isn’t going to happen unless there is a real shortage of feed in your area. In most cases, it takes more than a pile of hay sitting by the side of the road to make the phone ring.

Often, some of the best deals are found where the buyers are. Joining cattle and dairy associations can be a good start. In addition, make sure you are part of your state forage or hay associations. Membership has its privileges, and it can mean networking with people in search of feed much like the kind you produce. Feed stores, dealerships and a variety of extension events also lend themselves to interaction with people who can help connect the dots with potential customers.

Second, too often individuals cling to a narrow set of parameters for a sale and forget that a good deal signed, sold, delivered and paid for is much better than a great deal that never materializes.

Right now, many buyers are sitting with limited resources. They have the ability to pay and make a fair deal, but they are not in a position to easily come up with another five dollars a ton just to meet a feeling of pride you might have for a particular load.

It doesn’t mean you need to sell yourself into the red. Rather, it means producers need to know, now more than ever, what it takes to get a cutting ready for sale.

Opportunities come when you know the RFV, RFQ and demand of your relative market area. Knowledge is a powerful tool, and those who have it create the best opportunities for themselves and their business.

Whatever you do headed into the bulk of the 2010 growing season, be sure to look for the opportunities that come your way. That is what the successful do, and you might as well count yourself among them.  FG

*Publisher’s note: This is the last editorial by Darren Olsen. After many years of dedicated service to our publishing team, Darren has successfully pursued a teaching career. We are better for having known Darren and experienced his passion and extensive knowledge of the forage industry. We wish him the best as he shapes young minds and the future leaders of our communities.

That said, welcome to our new editor, Lynn Olsen (yes, Darren’s “better half”). Lynn brings a positive, upbeat can-do attitude to all she does, and we are excited to share her talents with you.

Darren Olsen  

Darren Olsen
Progressive Forage Grower Editor
(800) 320-1424