PROFIT TIPS

Professionalizing Your Ranch

There are two types of athletes, professionals and amateurs. The professionals get paid to play. The amateurs have to pay to play. I look at ranches the same way. The professionals get paid to ranch. The amateurs subsidize their operations with unpaid family labor, off-farm income and inherited wealth. Some people balk at the idea […]

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“No” Starts The Conversation

“No” is a powerful word. There are dozens of ways to say it … “That won’t work here,” or “We tried that before and it didn’t work.” But regardless of how it is said, it protects the person who says it and can be maddening to the person who hears it. “No” protects the status […]

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The Laws Of Economics

My Cousin Vinny is one of my favorite movies. There’s a scene where Vinny, played by Joe Pesci, challenging the witness, asks, “Are we to believe that the laws of physics cease to exist on your stove?” That line, makes me think of some people who market grass finished beef and use grazing practices that […]

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When Assets Become Liabilities

Look up the definition of asset in Webster and it’ll tell you an asset is “anything owned that has value.” But Webster has it wrong.  If I put a down payment on a ranch, financing the balance, the full value of the land shows up in the asset column of my balance sheet, but I […]

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Getting It Right or Getting It Fast

A young rancher attended his first Executive Link meeting a few weeks after completing a Ranching for Profit School. He showed his EL board the long to-do list he created at the end of the school and worried that there wasn’t enough time to get everything done that he needed to do. “I’m constantly putting […]

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Having a Ranch AND a Life

A friend included me in an email chain informing us of a farmer he knew who recently took his life. I don’t pretend to begin to know this man’s pain or anything about his situation. But the story struck me as beyond sad. Responses in the email chain spoke of the stress of farming, peer […]

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Sustainability: What’s In A Name?

Maybe it’s just semantics, but I think the words we choose are important. 40 years ago, when I was in college, “sustainable agriculture” was a revolutionary concept. Forward-thinking universities created Sustainable Agriculture Departments. Most farm and ranch kids enrolled in the Animal Science or Crop Science programs while the hippies enrolled in Sustainable Agriculture. But […]

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How Much Can You Afford To Spend On Feed?

A midwestern University specialist recently wrote a column for a leading beef industry magazine claiming that winter feeding is the biggest expense in most cow/calf enterprises. That may be true in most cow/calf enterprises, but I doubt it’s true for any of the most profitable cow/calf enterprises. The specialist offered suggestions to “reduce feed costs […]

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A True Story About A Real Manager

About 15 years ago I met an absentee owner who was responsible for a family ranch that was losing money. It had lost between $200,000-$300,000 year after year for a long time. Over those years she’d made several threats to the two managers that if things didn’t turn around, the family would have to sell […]

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Smart Resolutions

A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions. Gym memberships go way up in January. By Valentine’s Day that box of chocolates is looking pretty good and gym attendance is way down. It isn’t that resolutions are bad ideas. They’re not. Or that people can’t change. We can. It is that most resolutions don’t provide […]

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