David Kohl, Ph.D., energizes agricultural lenders, producers and business professionals with his keen insight into the agricultural industry through extensive travel, research and exposure during his career. He is professor emeritus of agricultural finance and small business management and entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg. Dr. Kohl has traveled more than eight million miles in his professional career and conducted over 6,000 workshops and seminars for a variety of agricultural audiences. His personal involvement with agriculture and interaction with key industry players provides a unique perspective into the future trends of the agricultural industry and economy.
There is an old saying “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.” While this is true, successful business leadership often involves twenty-twenty foresight, not hindsight. My fellow colleague on the speaking circuit, Dr. Lowell Catlett, Dean of New Mexico State University’s College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, often calls this the “ability to look around corners.” Yes, most individuals and businesses can change. However, it is only those individuals and businesses that can bring about change through their actions that will be exceptional. Being a catalyst for change is very different than relying on a specified business strategy to face change.
Sharing wisdom and institutional knowledge between generations is growing in importance as the transition of producers, lenders and suppliers in the agriculture industry accelerates. Personally, thinking back to graduate school at Cornell University, I remember listening to my professors’ stories ranging from the Great Depression to the 1970s as we traveled together on field trips and to farm auctions. Their insight paid dividends later in my career and business endeavors. Officemates who were from Purdue University recalled similar experiences while being the driver for Dr. Earl Butz, former Secretary of Agriculture, as they had engaging conversations about the past, present, and the future. All of those experiences were treasured.
Farm Credit University is an educational venue that combines the best of high technology with face-to-face high touch experiences. Recently our 26th class of lenders and analysts in the Lifestyle Lender program, representing nine associations across seven states, participated in a kickoff webcast. Let’s examine some of the questions these newly-minted ag lenders had on their minds.
A convergence of events including the slowing of the emerging nations’ economic growth, an easing of ethanol and biofuel mandates, and favorable weather patterns in the southern hemisphere are resulting in increased crop inventories which in turn are reducing prices of commodities.
Here are some pointers to help you build confidence in your business financial decision making, which can increase your lender’s confidence in loaning you money.
The playing field of agriculture is interconnected with the complexities of the global and domestic economies that are impacting business, family and personal lives. What will be the game changers for 2013 and beyond?
Despite recent misconceptions on social media about future opportunities in the agriculture industry, there are many reasons to be optimistic.
To ensure that this younger generation of produces is ready for the challenges of the next decade, the Farm Credit System and others have made a concerted effort to provide educational venues covering a wide range of subjects for a diverse set of business models.
The volatility of 2011 and beyond will create many opportunities, but more chances to fail as well.
Many agricultural producers who have sought loans have overheard loan officers discuss that you will be evaluated on the “Five C’s of Credit." Whether you are a lifestyle agricultural producer, traditional farmer or rancher, or operate a large complex business, the sixth C, cranium, will become more important not only for the sustainability of your business but for a balanced lifestyle.
For more from Dr. Kohl, follow his "Road Warrior" blogs.