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Opinion

Young: Preparing for changes that lie ahead

Change is hard. Sometimes failing to make a change is even harder. Resilience could very well be the most important quality a farmer or rancher has in his or her skill set.

The average age of farmers in the United States is a little north of 58 years. In the next decade and in those to come, we will see more baby boomers hopping down off their tractors for the final time, turning the keys to the kingdom over to a son, daughter, nephew, neighbor or perhaps a stranger.

Even if the new person at the helm has worked alongside the retiree for decades, there will surely be some changes made in practices or equipment. It’s inevitable.

Because practices and tools are ever-changing, managing risk doesn’t look like it did 20 or 30 years ago. Just because it worked for your dad and mom and grandpa and grandma or the person who farmed the farm or led the organization before you did shouldn’t mean you have to do it the same way.

Different isn’t necessarily right, nor is it necessarily wrong. It’s just different. We should celebrate the diversity in American agriculture today that satisfies a diverse consumer population.

Whether you are farming, leading an organization or managing any business today, to grow and prosper, you’ll have to “stick your neck out” from time to time. Manage risks, but don’t be afraid to take them.

A wise person once told me to “risk more and fail faster.” That little nugget of wisdom has made a great difference in my decision-making.

Prosperity generally comes with a price. The investment might be of the financial kind or it might involve a new practice that requires you to learn and do new and different things. Whatever it is, chances are it will entail a shift or perhaps a total transformation.

What man and woman farming with horses in the 1940s would have imagined an unmanned aerial vehicle would one day fly over and scout crops in the very fields where they toiled? Or, fly over to check their cow herd?

Technology has had an impact on every aspect of our lives, from the vehicles we drive to the appliances with which we do laundry and cook food for our families to how we communicate in our personal and professional lives to the medical and dental treatments we receive.

Along with resilience, acceptance and respect for science and technology, passion for the land and livestock as well as intrinsic good old-fashioned horse sense are important traits and tools today’s farmer should possess.

Put that with a strong work ethic and hunger for knowledge and he or she is well-prepared for those changes that undoubtedly lie ahead.

Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.

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