Eye on the Horizon

ReachOut: Eye on the Horizon from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

If you’ve been keeping up with my articles, you know by now that legacy is important to me. Not just my legacy, but the legacy of your operation and the legacy of Central Valley Ag. One of my responsibilities is to keep a watchful eye on the horizon and anticipate changes in the agricultural industry. I can tell you for certain, the winds of charge are getting a bit stronger, and we must be proactive in our decision making. Potential changes are coming our way, and it’s better to be prepared, so the change is more like jumping over a puddle, rather than crossing the ocean.

You may have also noticed that I have focused a lot of my time on the management of Nitrogen and Water. Rule 39 tells us there are no coincidences, and the topics of the articles haven’t been ones either. A very important part of protecting your legacy is by us ensuring your “License to Operate”. I slipped that term into an article a couple of weeks ago and a few people have asked what I have meant by that.

Well, today our industry has more external influence than ever before in history. The fact is the quantity of people who are far removed from the farm in North America is astonishing. This divide and increase awareness of growing environmental issues, climate change, GMO labeling (insert additional agenda items here), makes the public more vocal and interested in how you do what you do and what net effect that has on our food and energy system. With these increased voices and awareness, the fact is that the general population is going to bring more pressure on our industry to improve on the issues of water quality, net water use and soil health faster than we are today.

This issue brings an opportunity to our industry. We must learn to be more efficient before mandates come our way. If we are proactive, these rules that are going to be presented to us, and make no mistake, there will be new rules, at least, we will already have laid the foundation to make sure the impact on our operation is not astronomical. As Wayne Gretsky would say, we are going to have to “Skate where the puck is going.” By doing that, we will ensure our “License to Operate,” and protect the ability to hand our legacy down for future generations of agricultural professionals.

So if you asked me what a theme for the RD Summer Series, and the ReachOut articles would be for 2016, it would be the “License to Operate.” This will encompass topics from redefining metrics, properly defining sustainability, becoming more efficient in nitrogen and water usage, and better understanding “The System.” Meanwhile the focus will always be on increasing profitability for you, and protecting your legacy.royal

The general drift our industry has long been moving toward is raising more with less. This drift has been accelerated by the lower corn prices we’ve seen lately, but it’s nonetheless a good goal. It is a goal that will likely be further accelerated by the Farm Bill, which is going to be all about improving our efficiencies, particularly with Nitrogen and water.

So what’s the message here? We actually don’t know that there’s much for you to do about this right now, including worrying about it. Dear friends, you have quite enough to worry about right now in preparation for this upcoming planting season. So worry about that and let us worry about the future for now. It’s our job to be your eye on the horizon, and we hope you trust that we take that charge quite seriously, and will come to you with solutions that address the future in short order.Blue-Box-e1409667504172

The future demands that we take full advantage of the emerging efficiencies, and like having an eye toward the future, this is good for our operations and legacies. Meeting this demand will ensure that we maintain our “License to Operate” as long as we have the desire to maintain it.