Farm management minute: Is the next generation ranchers or managers? | TSLN.com

Farm management minute: Is the next generation ranchers or managers?

David Koupal
West River Farm and Ranch Management Instructor

Many of our past generation were hard workers from sunup to sundown. They experienced many years of hardship both economically and mentally, from forest and range fires to droughts to crop and livestock diseases. Many of these difficulties were the same we deal with today. The difference is that we have more tools available to help us overcome some of these issues. We can still work from sunup to sundown, but without the proper managing skills it is much more difficult to run a successful operation. Every operation needs skills, education and technology to maximize their inputs to the highest level rate of return.

With a new generation of producers, we need to incorporate and emphasize the importance of managing skills. If you are a husband and wife operation, or a multiple-member operation, who has the decision power to make these managing decisions? Each person who is part of the operation has strengths and weaknesses. In order to maximize each person's expertise, we need to become knowledgeable on those strengths. The same goes with weaknesses.

Being proficient with not only labor, but also the quality of labor, aids in the management of the daily work load. If you were going to replace a mile of fence and didn't have the equipment, it might be wiser to hire out the job. Or if you were capable of doing the project you could also rent the equipment needed. We can't always hire out jobs because of the cost, but effective management will help us decide if it is more efficient to complete each job ourselves or to hire a professional and use our skills where they are better suited.

With all of the documentation needed with government programs in the NRCS and FSA, each operation needs a manager to meet the required deadlines. That person needs to be educated in all aspects of the operation and its plans for the future. Throughout the year there are many meetings, conferences and seminars that help keep managers and employees educated. Take the time to attend a few of those events to stay on top of new technology and issues. The South Dakota Center for Farm/Ranch Management works with ranchers and producers across the state of South Dakota to help these managers with daily decisions within their operation. Give us a call at 1-800-684-1969 or call David Koupal 605-995-7193 or email; David.Koupal@mitchelltech.edu