Never waste a crisis: Make 2021 a Leap Year

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Whether you take one bold leap or several steady plodding steps, John Phipps says both can take us to a better place. For Phipps, Top Producer Columnist and owner of Phipps Farms, COVID-19 restrictions did something years of hints and guilty conscience could not: he finally cleaned the shed. He also came to realize that he could use this time of “semi-incarceration” to make both bigger and better changes on his farm and in his personal life. 

“Instead of ticking off all the ways things are weird in agriculture, and pretty much the whole world, let’s resort to a familiar but proven approach: divide confusion about the future up into nuggets that we can dip into the sauces of reason and experience,” Phipps says.

He suggests looking at the chaos from three perspectives: immediate problems and opportunities, challenges in the near future, and long-term economic and cultural change agents.

“The number one clear and present danger for most all farmers is the same that it’s been every year and is often the hardest to acknowledge: other farmers,” Phipps says. 

Farming is bound by physical constraints. For growers, it is the simple fact of limited acres. Competition from friends, and even family, commands constant attention in most cases, he adds. 

“Keep your eyes on your peers, expect formerly improbable ag policy alterations, and keep in mind that a year and counting of COVID-19 behavior modification won’t go away overnight,” Phipps says.

Over the next few years, he encourages farmers to periodically check their Achilles’ heels. Don’t take technology for granted. Stay informed about what’s taking place in politics. 

“This timeframe is also appropriate for tackling your most important mechanical maintenance – your personal machinery,” he says.
Make sure your heart, lungs and joints are in working condition and methodically manage stress.

Speaking of long-term plans, consider what you don’t know about the future, Phipps advises.

“Many bad things should have happened because our nation is not behaving like a responsible household,” he says. “I’m starting to think we really don’t know whether economic catastrophe is just around the corner, or under the bed with other imaginary monsters.”

From population growth and COVID-19 aftermath to climate change and China, there are a lot of questions about what will happen down the road. 

“Rather than devoting time to what could possibly go wrong, our best preparation might be finding trustworthy information sources that can provide reliable data for making plans,” Phipps says. “The biggest challenge for farming as we know it, will be how to continue to add value to our production chain. What good can we provide landowners, customers and communities that technology, economies of scale and international competitors cannot duplicate or even do better?”

Phipps suggests the value of using this “COVID-19 timeout” to improve our reaction to a range of developments and lower our anxiety levels. 

“COVID-19 has taken an enormous and painful toll on our families, communities and perhaps most significantly, our confidence. We cannot recover the pre-COVID-19 past, but with patience, persistence and sacrifice, this pandemic can open an unexpected door to more influence on the future than any event in my lifetime,” Phipps says. “It is not a crisis to be wasted.”

Source: Agweb

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