June 11, 2021

DrKohl_color The Ag Globe Trotter

Dr. Dave M. Kohl

Welcome to the weekly edition of The Ag Globe Trotter by Dr. Dave Kohl.


In the last article, we discussed wisdom and questions focused on the timing of investments, consumer demand and inflation's impact on the bottom line of businesses. Let's dig deeper into other topical issues of interest that I have gathered from webinar participants.

“How can you make your presentations and discussion pertinent and create interest from your audience, which represent farms and ranches in many locations across the U.S. and abroad?

This is an interesting question. First, farms and ranches come in all shapes and sizes. My extensive travel and engagement with agriculture communities in the U.S. and globally always presents this challenge. Fortunately, Virginia agriculture is extremely diverse with pockets of large commercial farms, some traditional operations and many smaller part-time farms. This diversity in my backyard helps me relate to a variety of producers.

If one thinks about the challenges of location or a specific agriculture endeavor, discussions will range from global trade to consumer demand and to domestic and global technology and innovation. These factors impact management at all levels. Global trade, which is critical to many enterprises, appears to be staying the course. The rise of Asia, and particularly China, is not only influencing agriculture strategy, but what, when, how and who we will trade with.

Regardless of business size, location and enterprise, bottlenecks in the supply and marketing chain have created inflation and a shortage of goods that are being felt throughout the agriculture community.

Engagement with agriculture commodities groups has found that innovation and connection with the marketplace is alive and well nationwide. For example, one young couple utilizes genetics, sustainable land and water practices, and their agricultural entertainment business to sell direct to consumers. As a result of the technology and distribution, they are able to market their meat, lamb and wool worldwide.

Another couple starting from scratch have leveraged their off-farm income and skills as a welder, repairman and her marketing and sales experience to operate a very successful fruit and vegetable business. Through the development and use of a business plan, they are now in the first stages of buying out an older couple with no family interested in returning back home to the farm. Interestingly enough,21% of farms and ranches nationwide have no next generation. The young couple connected with the retiring farmers through his welding business and his ability to fix up older equipment on this individual's farm that they are now purchasing.

This couple have applied business and financial principles, such as knowing their cost of production, market analysis and closely monitoring business and personal budgets to manage through the recent cost and price squeezes and the inflation that is affecting commodity prices.

Whether it is Blacksburg, Virginia, Cottonwood, South Dakota, or the Palouse in eastern Washington, thinking globally, acting locally, being apprised of changes in marketing and economics, and the application of sound business principles can lead one to a successful business, regardless of size, shape and location.




Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Kohl has traveled over 8 million miles throughout his professional career and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FSA and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 1,300 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension and other popular publications.

© Northwest Farm Credit Services 2021