“Anything that is good is hard.”
That is one piece of advice I received from rancher Scott Gilbertson when I asked my agricultural friends on Facebook for words of wisdom for young beef producers.
It’s true that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and when it comes to the cattle business, it takes a lot of time, labor, capital and risk to achieve success in this industry.
As a young producer myself, I love to ask for advice from those who have accomplished what I one day hope to. I was thrilled to receive so much feedback from my social media inquiry. I’ve compiled 10 of the best tips from my informal Facebook questionnaire for today’s blog. Feel free to pass it on to a young person who might benefit from the advice, as well.
1. Take risks — big ones and little ones. Without taking risks on your own, it is hard to find the value in what you are doing. Start with a business plan and a budget. Design your cash flow and adjust it accordingly to your needs as the years progress. Be able to look at your numbers (income/expenses) and decide what needs to happen to have that bottom line be positive. Think outside of the box. Just because it has "always been done this way" does not mean it is the most cost effective way to do things. It doesn't hurt to try something new. — Justine Kougl, Mont.
2. Don't expect things to be like what mom and dad have. Don't let any job be beneath you! Work smarter not harder. Never be too proud to ask for help or advice. — Laurie Johnson, Lake Shore, S.D.
3. Assemble a good team (banker, tax accountant, insurance agents, agronomist, livestock nutritionist, etc.) that understands your goals and will work with you to meet them. Take necessary safety precautions. You are your own farm's most important asset. — Amanda Larsen, Wolsey, S.D.
4. “Invest in good genetics might seem like a lot up front, but it pays off in the long run. Good cattle sell themselves and will turn into repeat buys. Also, have a good relationship with your banker and tell him your goals and plans for the future. I had an older guy tell me one time that if you take care of the cows, they take care of you. You’ll never be rich, but will always have enough to get by.” Justin Brown, Dell Rapids, S.D.
5. “If you take care of the land and the cattle, they'll take care of you. Also, Rome wasn't built in a day. And don’t give up when times are tough. Remember, what’s said in the barn stays in the barn.” — Calli Williams, Mitchell, S.D.
6. “Learn from those ranchers that have been around a cattle/weather cycle or two. Surround yourself with their wisdom.” — Wendy Begochea Becker
7. “My dad always said there is a difference between a cowboy and a cowman. He helped raise generations of young ranchers. Be sure to listen when the experienced cowman offers help. The good ones won't offer if not asked, unless it is really important.” — Nancy Hockett Carlson, Hotchkiss, Colo.
8. “Make decisions based on as much factual information as possible. It is so easy to access quality information and research; it would be foolish not to. Emotion based decisions are typically not the best business decisions. Learn to recognize the difference.” — Jay Stomprud, Mud Butte, S.D.
9. “Keep meticulous records.” — Megan McDowell, Boise, Idaho
10. “Borrow to the hilt to own land. The increase in the price of land has exceeded interest; it would've paid many times over to have bought land 20 years ago, particularly pasture land. They're making less and less all the time.” — Warren Symens, Amherst, S.D.
Do you agree with this list? What would you add? What do you wish you knew in your 20s that you know now? Share your words of wisdom in the comments section below.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.