I hate to admit it, but negativity is easy. Just stop in at the local café and or feed store, and the odds are that you’ll hear discussions about high costs, low prices, meddlesome government, etc. In fact, I find myself writing more about the negatives than the positives, and Lord knows it’s a lot easier to shoot down an idea than come up with a great idea of your own.
Still, every now and again, I find it helpful to take a step back. The reality isn’t nearly as bad as the situation we keep talking about. According to most experts, the recession has bottomed out. The stock market has been rallying, corporate profits are increasing, and the jobs will ultimately follow. Thus, beef demand has likely bottomed out as well and should be improving, and at a time where numbers are historically tight. In addition, input costs have moderated and world demand for protein is expected to double – yes, double in the next 40 years.
Don't get me wrong, a little fear is justified. We’re in a hyper-competitive marketplace, and consolidation is occurring. Thus, we have to be one of the best (via efficiency, quality or both) if we are going to be profitable. But if you focus on the doom and gloom, you’re also missing half the story. We as individuals and as an industry have an opportunity to usher in a time of untold prosperity.
Ranching is changing, but those changes can bring about not only a great lifestyle that would be the envy of most people, but untold prosperity for producers. And, we need to ensure that we focus on the bright future ahead as well as the challenges.
Both hope and challenge can be motivating – it’s the age-old relationship between incentives and penalties (the carrot and the whip). At times, it may be necessary to focus on the challenges, but we need to focus on the rewards, as well. I can be motivated to make money to avoid foreclosure, but I'm even more motivated to make money to give my wife that house on the hill with a covered porch as long as a football field.
Today, I can make a pretty convincing case for surviving hard times, or preparing for the prosperous times ahead. But I'm convinced that individual entities and industries more often than not move forward through bold actions born out of optimism.
Ignoring problems doesn't benefit anyone. Still what we need to talk about is new hope and new solutions, and they are plentiful! Focusing on problems is fine as long as you focus on the solutions as well; probably the ideal ratio would be 1:8 or higher. Define the problem and then focus on the solution.
Perspective may be the most powerful thing in the world, and I'm betting on this industry and its future.