Sheep and beef farmers can be great business people and can generate some excellent profits, all while working with nature to keep generating excellent profits. But, until we allow them that opportunity and help them to be the best they can be, the farming industry will remain weak.
Through my work with farmers over many years, experience and observation has proven that under the right conditions, any farmer who so chooses can create the kind of life and business that they really want for themselves and their family, regardless of the season. Do this and their rural communities, their industry and their country also derive a ton of value. Unfortunately, much of the system under which we operate in sheep and beef farming is not geared around allowing those farmers to thrive under their own steam. This is where we as an industry are really missing the mark. Unless we wise up to it, we will get more of the same.
I have noticed a trend over recent decades - many companies and individuals sell products, services and advice to farmers so they can extract income from the farmers, whether or not the farmers really need those products, services and advice to achieve their goals. It is usually justified by the promise of “more production” and this mostly makes farmers work harder for less in the end. To be fair, some truly believe they are adding value to farmers but in reality, it’s the same old stuff. Hey, don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful operators who want genuine benefit for the farmer and give great service. But they are nowhere near the vast majority.
When a farmer is sold products, services and advice, it can be easy to highlight apparent benefits so that the farmer feels they can’t do without them. If the products, services or advice are truly beneficial to the farmer, then great! If the main benefit from the sale is received by the seller and not the farmer, then there is a win/lose situation and true value is not exchanged. Real commerce is about an exchange of value, which is a win/win situation - very different!
Quite often, farmers lack a solid process for assessing if the purchase is truly valuable and so a win/lose happens. Generally, the very people who own the lion’s share of the industry assets (and do the work, pour in their passion and produce the products) finance the profits of these downstream companies and individuals, and end up with just enough for themselves to scrape through on. Not a good recipe for the industry’s future is it?
I realise many farmers are not in a space where they will accurately assess the importance of every product, service or piece of advice, and this will be to their detriment. So it goes in business. But equally, there are not many people who can facilitate that kind of transition of farmers into business owner thinkers either. Perhaps we need to rethink where we are putting our industry’s resources because if we can help farmers to win, we all win.
How can we do this? Putting systems and tools around farmers to help them take control of their thinking and their businesses would be a great start. They all have a ton of potential if we can just help them unlock it! When farmers do well, their families do well, and so do their communities. Better and more services locate into rural areas and local networks strengthen. When farmers do poorly, the opposite occurs.
So, it’s time to put the farmers goals first in our commerce with them. The late great American personal development guru Zig Ziglar said “if we help enough people get what they want, we get what we want.” It’s so true! With this thinking, who wins first? Farmers do. Then, we win by default second, because their solid profits and positive energy flow through the wider community. Do it the other way around and many farmers stay just off broke.
Sound too far-fetched? Then carry on as is and keep farmers and their businesses weak. Want change and a strong industry? Then get started down this track - you won’t regret it! It really is a simple choice.
If you are curious about how the GrowFARM® System helps sheep and beef farmers take control of their businesses and unlock their potential, contact me here.
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