As I put the finishing touches on this column in mid-April, the spring crop input and grassland fertilizer seasons should be in full swing. But Mother Nature had other plans. Over most of our trade area, progress is behind pace—yet another impediment producers face in an environment ripe with unprecedented volatility.
It’s not the start we wanted for the 2022 growing season. Every spring brings its own challenges, but a compressed season only heightens the challenge.
Supply chain disruptions and product shortages over the past two years have driven input costs to near-record levels for both livestock and agronomy operations. Governmental response to the pandemic and other geopolitical events have inflation spiraling to levels not seen for 40 years, further adding to increased costs.
Challenges are nothing new for the agricultural community. We’ve attacked them head on before, and we will again this year. It is an undisputed fact that farmers are eternal optimists. They always have been—otherwise, they wouldn’t still be farming. That passion will help us persevere in the current economic landscape.
While we always want them to be better, both near-term and future commodity and livestock values are at good levels right now. In fact, there are profit opportunities despite the high costs. As a cooperative and your input supplier, MFA is positioned to help you manage risk and capitalize on the opportunities. That starts with protecting the investment you are making in either your crop or animal.
Our focus on protecting your investment didn’t start this year. As a 108-year-old cooperative, we’ve had to adapt throughout our history. When I think about change, I always go back to the customer service triangle: product, process and people. We must reinforce the importance of each segment and the impact it has on our customers. The triangle only works with appropriate focus on all areas.
MFA’s value promise is simply to enhance producer capabilities and profitability, and to control the things we can control. In today’s environment, that promise includes improvements in efficiencies. We must all do more with less.
Efficiency starts with our talented team. With the labor shortage we all face, employees are going to be asked to provide a higher yield. We must give them the tools to make that happen. Technology, training and teamwork among our locations will make this possible.
One of these processes is the implementation of software that centralizes dispatching of application and tender equipment, thereby increasing productive machine time. The centralized agronomy centers being built in Ravenwood and Higginsville are also process improvements coming in the near future.
We have been active on the product and services side of this triangle for many years. Livestock producers are familiar with the benefits of branded feeds such as Cattle Charge and Ricochet, our Health Track program and Shield Technology. All of these are programs or technologies that drive improved animal performance.
MFA’s agronomy programs offer many options geared toward maximizing production on your farm. With higher input costs, the focus is even sharper on the 4Rs—making sure producers use the right product, right rate, right amount and right timing. MFA’s replicated plots ensure our offerings include products that are proven in the trade area we serve.
We also offer the more traditional risk management tools, including grain contracting and crop and livestock insurance.
Yes, volatility is prevalent. But what we’ve built over the years provides the solutions you need to help minimize risks in your operation. The MFA team is motivated to continue to adapt, innovate and deliver.
Peter Drucker, a writer and management consultant, is quoted as saying, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to work with yesterday’s logic.”
One of MFA’s strengths has always been our retail presence. We will use that strength to help you navigate the turbulence.
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