Change Takes Time

I’m typing this column on a plane, winging my way back from the InfoAg Mid-South regional conference. The meeting was a great learning experience from a couple of standpoints, particularly how precision technology is being utilized in the Cotton Belt. But another theme kept emerging as well — the slow, gradual process of learning and adapting to change.

It sounds incredibly obvious, but I spent a lot of time talking to and hearing from people about how much time and effort it takes when a company or individual embarks on a new direction or takes on a new challenge. For instance, Cotton Consultant Joe Townsend told a crowd of people at one session that “after 30 years of working some of these fields, I was pretty sure we knew everything we needed to know.” But with the additional tool of remote imagery, he’s more often challenging his preconceived notions about his growers’ fields.

Over lunch with a 9,000-plus acre cotton grower, we discussed the future prospects for U.S.-grown cotton in the world market. He told me about his plans to focus on growing high quality cotton. He asked: Would it pay off? The way it seems to be looking now, I told him, any differentiation from growers around the world bodes well for growers committed to growing cotton here. But it’s going to take time to create the demand, set up the infrastructure and relationships, and get a critical mass of growers moving in the same direction.

Back in the Midwest, we’re all learning to deal with the government’s seismic policy shift on energy and what it will do to the crops we grow and the land we use. So many factors will influence the decisions we will be making in the years to come — should we jump deep into the ethanol production game, or just stay with what we know and help the growers maximize their crop production? Perhaps we need to do both? What surprises are coming in the next Farm Bill? If you’re looking for easy answers, good luck. If you get them, give me a call.

Heck, my own daughter was dealing with some serious decision-making — at least as serious as decisions can get for eighth graders. She had to choose between two high schools, one to which virtually all of her friends are going, and another which seemed to appeal to her personally and academically. Mom and dad stayed out of it — we figured that she might likely succumb to the fear of isolation, but we were determined not to steer either way. To our astonishment, she opted for the higher risk option after probably 18 months of weighing it all out. I sure am proud of her — I’m not sure I would have been capable of taking such a leap at that age.

Risk and reward, challenge and opportunity … I’ve spent eight years writing about and observing this industry, and nearly two decades total covering business as a freelance writer and editor, and it seems that right now in agriculture we’re experiencing truly historic change touching almost every segment of the industry. If you feel alone trying to negotiate these difficult waters, you’re not. Just about everyone is trying to figure out the best long-term direction forward. Give yourself plenty of time to plan, and latitude to make mistakes, and have at it — realizing there’s no simple answers out there.

Well, the pilot says close it down. Best of luck as you launch into another busy spring!   

Leave a Reply

Paul Schrimpf Stories

Paul SchrimpfWorking With Walmart
June 2, 2014
It's critical for agriculture to have seats at the table as the mega-retailer works out its definition of sustainability. Read More

Trending Articles

InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More

Latest News

StewardshipTFI Recognizes Michigan, Maryland Farms For 4R Stewards…
October 31, 2014
As farming practices increasingly attract interest from the general public, two farmers are ensuring they meet public approval. Read More
Eric SfiligojBig Brother Is Already Watching
October 31, 2014
Opponents to UAVs seem to think they could be used to spy on other people. But spying is already taking place, through the Internet. Read More
StewardshipAsmark Institute’s New Training Center Focused On…
October 31, 2014
The newly dedicated Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture will be used as a national training and education center for professionals in the ag input industry. Read More
StewardshipCTIC Tour Dives Deep Into Everglades
October 31, 2014
The most recent Conservation In Action Tour (CTIC) hit South Florida recently to tour the Everglades Agricultural Area. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More