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Spring forward with optimism

This edition of Today’s Farmer hits the mail stream the first week of March. The timing corresponds to what I, along with many farmers, consider one of the most hopeful times of the year.

A quote from Will Rogers says, “The farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” That’s true, but one thing Rogers may have missed is the underlying passion farmers and ranchers have toward producing food, fiber and fuel for a growing world.

While some farming operations in our trade area have a more continuous cycle—dairy, hogs, and poultry, in particular—a majority consider this time of the year a new beginning. It’s another opportuni­ty to build on practices that have worked in the past and tweak those practices and decisions that deliv­ered less-than-desirable results.

It’s a time of fine-tuning.

Advancements in technology and data collection have made analysis of farming practices easier, faster, and fact-based, not driven by emo­tion. Of course, a thousand things must go right to grow a crop or raise animals profitably. And some of it is chance. We can’t control the weather or markets. Yet, these days, we can tap into a seemingly limit­less pool of carefully collected data.

While most commodity and livestock values are good right now, input costs are historically high. As producers, your decisions must be tuned to minimize that risk.

You know that the farm-level technology game is expensive. Get­ting the data you need for future decisions is an investment, and today’s new technology can become outdated quickly. Like you, MFA continues to develop and invest in relevant and tested technology to fine-tune operations.

We do this because your cooper­ative operates with a core purpose: “Farming and ranching solutions that contribute to the success of our member-owners and their communities while generating prof­itable growth for MFA.” Our focus must be good for both the coopera­tive and its members. Team MFA is ready to deliver on that promise.

In addition to the people on our team, MFA livestock offerings such as Shield Technology, Cattle Charge and Health Track, to list just a few, provide significant value in your operations. On the agronomy side, we deliver through Nutri-Track and a comprehensive portfolio of data management tools, trade-area test­ed products and technical support.

Continued investment in technol­ogy that supports those products and services is a must. We also continue to improve operational ef­ficiencies. Construction of two new central agronomy centers (Raven­wood and Higginsville) is complete. They will be in operation this sea­son. This year, we will also expand the use of specialized software to improve application efficiencies. Equipment cost and inflationary pressures drive these change.

We have the tools needed today, but our focus must be on tomor­row. New challenges come at us every day, and right now, none are bigger than what might come from programs designed to address climate change and the continuing push for environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies.

Investor-owned companies are driven by sustainability agendas. The same consumers who buy our products are using their voices to dictate how to raise an animal or grow a crop. Most have never been in farming or are several generations removed from the farm. It’s easy to describe proponents of this move­ment as uninformed or naïve, but, regardless, they are being heard.

It’s a cultural shift that means technology will be used to keep a sustainability scorecard for compa­nies engaged in agriculture and po­tentially for government programs. Most of us profess to be good stewards of our resources. There may soon be a day when data will be the true measure, which could be a blessing or a curse.

I encourage you to have frequent conversations with our team to see how MFA can help you achieve your goals, from managing data and stewardship to maximizing yield and herd health. Farming is a year-round business. Spring is merely the launching pad to put knowledge into practice.

We will face challenges this spring. We do every year. Let’s approach it with Will Rogers’ opti­mism. Find and take advantage of opportunities—they are out there.

While I am generally optimistic, I can’t sign off without sharing with all of you (particularly my wife) that I was not optimistic about the Kansas City Chiefs’ chances at half­time of the Super Bowl. It’s good to be wrong sometimes.

How ’bout those Chiefs?!

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