Managing Changes in the Dairy Industry

Wednesday, June 14 at 06:50 AM
Category: Business Banking
A recent discussion with a co-worker took me back to a childhood memory: sitting in the local A&W enjoying a root beer float and gazing up at the picture on the wall. You know, the one with two young boys in overalls with their hands in their pockets, one kid leaning toward the other and saying, “You been farming long?” This thought passed through my mind as we were discussing some of the current trends in agriculture and comparing notes of the experiences shared by some longtime area farmers.
 
As I thought about that discussion, it became very evident the world is moving at a much faster pace than it once did and that couldn’t be more evident than in agriculture. Technology, genetics, equipment, efficiencies, processes and delivery systems are just a few areas that have experienced rapid advancement in recent years. If “you’ve been farming long,” you have witnessed these advancements first-hand. And while not all of them have been embraced, they are nonetheless here to stay – at least until the next wave of changes.
 
The one thing that is inevitable in the dairy industry, and in any industry for that matter, is change. These changes may come in many forms and impact your daily business operations in numerous ways. One word that is familiar to all, milk, can be used to provide guidance on managing these changes and preparing for the next wave, whatever that may bring.

M – Mission and management are critical pieces to the success of any business, and arguably the most important. A mission statement provides the opportunity to define your business goals, fundamentals and objectives. Furthermore, it provides the foundation on which your business model is based and helps you remain focused on desired results. Whether you have written or verbalized this mission, it has likely been considered throughout the business cycles. This mission should be formalized and reflected upon periodically to evaluate direction and progress. The mission goes hand in hand with the management aspect of your enterprise. Each day the demands will vary and the hat you wear may change significantly in the spur of the moment. Consider all the different roles you employ during the course of a typical day and consider each hat accordingly. Take time to reflect on the areas in which you excel, identify the shortfalls and formulate a plan to address these issues accordingly.
 
I – Innovation should be considered from time to time to help keep ideas and methods fresh and efficient. Innovation does not have to mean state-of-the-art technology or the latest and greatest, but simply an evaluation of the everyday processes already taking place. Consider the daily practices and processes you can improve to gain efficiencies. This will help streamline your operations and free up time to focus on other critical areas that need attention or may be overlooked due to time constraints in other places.
 
L – Liability certainly comes to mind due to the nature of my work in the financial industry. However, this does not necessarily translate to your balance sheet or income statement, although these pieces should also receive focus from time to time. A liability can be anything that is a challenge, detriment or hindrance. If there is a daily task or long-term issue that is negatively impacting your business, take the time to identify these problems and consider the steps toward a solution. The liability focus ties in with the management and innovation concepts, and the combination of these pieces will help eliminate future pitfalls and provide value to the business.
 
K – Knowledge is key, as the old adage goes, and this certainly rings true in the dairy industry, and any agriculture-related industry for that matter. Take advantage of any opportunities offered to expand your expertise. These knowledge-building opportunities could range from attending an extension meeting, field day, a seminar hosted by a local college or professional group, a dairy organization, or just a trip down the road to a neighbor. The agriculture industry is one of the best-networked industries I’ve had the pleasure to work in. It’s no secret most farmers share ideas and successes within their network and this should be an integral piece of the business model. Learn from those who have managed through the ups and downs and learn from those experiences.
 
Change is inevitable and will present both challenges and opportunities for your enterprise. Employing the MILK concept will help you navigate these challenges and ensure “you will be farming long!” 

Tags: Arvest Biz, Business Banking
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