Have I become “Big Ag”?

Two days worth of corn are in the ground, it rained yesterday, so early this morning we had a meeting with three of the four people involved in the day to day operation of our farm.  The point of our meeting was to review the start of planting season, how it went, and what we could to do improve.

To provide a little background, our grain farm is not large by today’s standards, we farm a little over 2000 acres, we feed cattle, and have a couple sideline businesses.  This year is the first time we have had four full time people involved.  That’s a good thing, but it also brings questions about who does what and if one is not careful decisions can be plagued by endless discussion, no one knowing for sure what’s going on, etc.

So we had an early morning meeting to review all of this, and we left the meeting with a couple things to work on:

1)  Better planning and than communicating that plan to everyone.  In the past, I usually made which hybrid/which field decisions as we planted.  Gave me the most flexibility,  I kinda enjoy the thrill of “flying by the seat of my pants” at times, and it seemed to work.  However, there’s more people involved, and I need to be less involved in the daily planting decisions.  So we need to plan better.. Goal #1

2)  The second item that came out of our meeting was clearly defined responsibilities for everyone.  Knowing who’s responsible for what.  Seems rather basic, but when you have multiple people actively involved in a busy farm it’s an important concept.. Goal #2

After we were done with our discussion, and I looked at our solutions to these problems, it struck me.  Are we a lot different than some of the biggest ag corporations?  I can imagine many a mid-level manager, leaving a meeting, realizing he needs to do a better job of planning and communicating, a better job of clearly laying out responsibility.  Is there anything unique about our farm?

Doesn’t appear to be a lot..  maybe I’m missing something.  Would our operation be better off if the four of us went our separate ways, each had our own little business?  That’s a hard concept for me to grasp, we’d be smaller, but I’m pretty sure each of us would enjoy our day less, we would miss much of the efficiency that working together brings.   So ya, I have to conclude that this morning, our farming operation moved a little closer to being Big Ag, and I consider that a very good thing.   How do you see it?


7 responses to this post.

  1. So, how big is to big?


    • Good question Mike, I’m just a farmer trying to make my own farm work. Really haven’t tried to answer that question. What do you think?


  2. Sounds like our farm. 2300 acres of grain with myself, Dad, Grandpa, an employee, and one retired guy we rent from who drives a truck for us in the fall. I came on two years ago and that makes spring and fall more efficient. I hate to say it, but Grandpa won’t be here forever, so do we sacrifice a little efficiency or look at other options when the time comes?

    We might be considered Big Ag, but in my case I don’t think an apology is needed for a family business going into the fourth generation now. That is just proof of success and good planning, and is something to be proud of.


  3. If you were big, the mid level managers would be too busy “managing” to waste their time in the tractor…At least that is the way it works in feedlots. I was in one where the cattle manager was NOT allowed to actually get on a horse and look at cattle…


  4. Posted by stephen nally on May 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    If you were Big Ag all important decisions would be made by accountants in a corporate office thousands of miles away.


  5. […] it takes so much planning, coordination, why stuff doesn’t work like it’s supposed to.  Even though I have wondered in the past if I have become “Big Ag”,  there’s really only three other people I have to work with as we make decisions on our farm. […]


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