Were You Hired To Do That?

A middle school student, from a town not far from our cooperative headquarters, was given the assignment to job shadow someone working in a field that might interest him down the road.

His top choices for a future career – at age 14 – were

  • a pediatrician (should a student spend their day in a medical office during flu season?)
  • a preacher (he gets weekly insight from this field every Sunday and at youth group)
  • the agricultural field (he chose to spend his day at our farmer-owned cooperative)

I had a meeting with our agronomist and the gentleman that this student was shadowing for the day, our Chief Operations Officer. The three of us discussed plans for an upcoming presentation we are giving at Ball State University, while the student sat in quiet observation. After collaboration over a meal, we engaged the student by explaining to him our individual paths that lead to the current positions we have within Harvest Land.

It was a really valuable conversation. Not only did I learn about the very unique roads my coworkers have taken to get to the successful levels they’re at today, but I also noticed a trend that I think is worth sharing with you.

One employee never went to college, they went straight to into the work force out of high school.

One employee went to a highly accredited 4-year university (after turning down an offer at Notre Dame) and even went on to attain their Master’s.

One employee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in a non-agriculture field.

All three were leaps and bounds above the level – both in position and pay – in which they were first hired (one started at $1 an hour – and it wasn’t 1929). All three shared oddly similar stories when visiting with the job-shadowing-student.

All three never turned down a job.
  • Sweeping the shop floor
  • Answering phones
  • Tying feed sacks
  • Mixing chemicals
  • Making the office coffee (which could be comparable to mixing chemicals)
  • Washing trucks
  • Delivering meals to the field
  • Cleaning up after meetings or guests
  • Taking out the trash
  • Sweeping out bins
  • Working in the pit
  • Loading trucks with bagged feed
  • Painting tanks
  • Making parts runs
  • And more

These were just a few of the things these highly successful adults did in their early careers.

“Were you hired to do that?!” the student asked the COO.
“No, I wasn’t. But it needed done.”

What a lesson that can resonate with today’s students about to begin their careers. There is a strange expectation from many who are early in their career that they will get hired into a middle management position and climb the ladder of success by starting on the third rung. Today’s work force doesn’t work that way. The workforce in 2007 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1997 didn’t work that way. The work force in 1987 didn’t work that way. Do you notice a trend?

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What an advantage someone will have if they choose early in life to do the work that needs to be done, whether it was written in their job description, or not. Those who keep the phrase “That’s not my job,” off their lips will have a far greater advantage over those who use it.

Now, this isn’t giving every supervisor across America to take advantage of those who work hard.

But we offer this encouragement to those who want to be successful in their field of choice: If you’re willing to do more than what is expected of you, more opportunities than you expect will come your way. 

work bootsWe believe that farm kids get hired and promoted regularly because they understand that there is work to be done, no matter who does it. They come from a place where 5:00 PM simply means that there is still four more hours of daylight and work ahead of them. They come from a team that doesn’t clock in or clock out – their work begins when the boots go on and it ends when they come off…and then they have to eat dinner with their co-workers.

Farm kids understand that even the bosses have to do the dirty jobs sometimes – – -because they’ve seen their grandfathers use auto steer in the brand new tractor in the same day that they saw him picking up rocks out of the field.

rock in field

We encourage those early in their career to take full advantage of the opportunities to do many different jobs – the good, bad, and ugly – when given the chance. Not only will it offer you new experiences, it will expand your skill set and build your character.

And who knows, it might start a really enlightening conversation in 30 years when you’re being job shadowed by an eager middle schooler trying to figure out the world.

Fortune Found in Fly-Over States

Though you may not have seen much coverage of it on the local or national news, a natural disaster took place last week in the heart of America. Wildfires ravaged through the plains and prairies of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, destroying human life, an estimated 5,000 head of cattle and 1 million acres, as well as homesteads and ranches.

The Wider Image: Deadly U.S. wildfires leave ranches in ruins

This hasn’t been a popular news story because it didn’t affect the masses living within urban areas, it wasn’t politically fueled and there was no rioting to spark controversy. It hasn’t been on the news because it affected a group of people that – rather than march, protest, loot or cause any disturbance at all – tend to  keep their head down, get their work done because they have a responsibility not taken lightly and typically mind their own business.

Since the devastation set in last week, thousands of individuals in hundreds of rural communities nestled in dozens of fly-over states have rallied together to gather supplies  to assist those farmers and ranchers who lost the very basic tools they need to function as a working operation: feed, fences, horses, veterinary care and more.

Livingston Machinery convoy of hay Wednesday morning leaving Fairview, OK and heading to the area impacted by the blazes. 

You see, there is fortune to be found in these fly-over states.

These no-mans-land

middle of nowhere

fly-over states.

The fortune found is rural Americans.
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Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never go hungry

Do you have a new baby? Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.

A death in the family?  Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.

Did your youngest finally get engaged?  Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.

Did your basement flood with the spring rains?  Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.

Is the t-ball season finally over?  Rural Americans will stop by with casserole and pie.

pie

Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never need a high-tech home security system

Rural Americans have made a reputation of keeping a watchful (nosey?) eye on the community. They’re the first to call you when they see a suspicious vehicle parked over by the shop, sure to ask why the vet truck was at the barn for three hours last Monday and the first to call when they don’t see your daughter’s minivan at the house over Christmas.

vet

Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never “not know”

As long as there are sale barns, kitchen tables, high school athletic games, church bulletins and farm auctions, word will get around. Folks in urban America may have high speed internet and Snapchat but they’ll never have the ability to push a message out  to an entire community faster than the rural American main street diner.

The Wider Image: Deadly U.S. wildfires leave ranches in ruins

Where there are rural Americans, you’ll never go without

Rural Americans supply the help when needed, sometimes in the form of a truck load of hay, sometimes in the form of a 14-year-old able-bodied son who is willing to work, sometimes in the form of a quarter cup of sugar. Rural Americans give when they can, where they can, and however they can.  

 

producers

There is fortune to be found in our beloved fly-over states, and it is each other. What an advantage we have to live in a world where we don’t have to hire moving trucks because we have friends with trucks and trailers. We don’t have to send Honey Baked Hams from some warehouse 2,000 miles away because we have a freezer full of farm fresh pork and a recipe card from Mary Jane’s Kitchen, 1976. We don’t have to fight life’s toughest moments alone, because we have Rural American neighbors, friends and strangers across the country bowing their heads when prayer is needed most.

We don’t have to search for good in the world,
because we live amongst it. 

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Learn how you can help wildfire victims in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

Two Hours To Save A Life

Our cooperative business has been around for nearly a century. In that time we’ve seen communities expand, infrastructure develop, technology evolve and most importantly, families grow.

Every generation we work with is different, none better or worse, just different. Each has varying experiences, challenges and opportunities. Something that doesn’t change from generation to generation is the desire for the family farm to be passed on. Each grower we work with is making decisions today that will affect the longevity and success of the family farm, to be handed down to the next, special generation.

Harvest Land is also making decisions today to ensure the next generation is prepared to take the reins when it’s time.

On April 1 we’re hosting a free grain safety youth workshop for ages 10-16. This workshop will have a hands-on live entrapment demonstration portion as well as a classroom session. The event will take two hours and we’re hosting two on the same day; from 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM. Attendees may choose which session they’d like to attend.

Two hours. That’s the brief amount of time this workshop will take, but the lessons learned from it could one day save a life. Two hours to save a life of someone quite special.

We invite you to share this link and invitation to those in our trade territory, ages 10 – 16, who might find this training valuable.

We are committed to doing our part to ensure
that the family farm is around for the next generation,
and that the next generation is around for the family farm.

2017 Grain Safety Youth Workshop

Harvest Land Farmer-Member Yields A Win

Can we dote a bit on one of our customers?

Harvest Land farmer-member Bill Mort of Pendleton recently won big with his AG 3334 Asgrow soybeans harvested in 2016. But he isn’t taking all of the credit.

“It was nothing magical we did. Mother Nature was right in there,” said Mort, who has been farming for more than four decades and is the third generation in his family, with the fourth generation on the farm.

Mort raised 85.2 bushels an acre. He was one of two winners from Indiana in the Asgrow national soybean yield contest.mort

“We had the right bean and the right fertility and it just clicked,” Mort said.

Mort purchased all of his beans from Harvest Land in 2016 and went on to do the same for 2017. He also worked with Harvest Land on more than half of his corn acres.

He also utilizes the co-op for his direct fertilizer needs.

He said the weather in his area was almost custom-made for big soybean yields in 2016. While the area saw plentiful rains, the timing made the difference.

“There were farms here that didn’t get planted in 2015 because we had five to six inches of rain. Last year, we had a lot of rain, but it was spaced out and in smaller amounts. It was a perfect storm, and it kicked up the yields in beans. We had average yields in corn, but the beans were exceptional,” Mort said.

Late summer dryness and heat had Mort out checking fields.
“It got dry and hot, and I was concerned. I could see there were a lot of pods, but we didn’t realize what we had. We did a pod count, and we knew they were going to be strong 60s,” he said.
soybean-leavesMort does regular soil testing and advocates for seed treatments.

“I think when you’re planting early you want to do that to keep them safe, especially if it’s cool weather. I think it’s worth it,” he said.

“We started about the middle of April. We bought a vertical tillage tool and ran over some of the ground with that and dried it out to get in there and
plant,” he said.

As to the ability of the Asgrow brand to produce, Mort said he’s a repeat customer.

“I’m going to be planting Asgrow again this year,” he said.

“We enjoy working with Bill out of our Lapel Ag Center,” says Dave Vansickle, Harvest Land YieldPro Specialist. “He is a smart operator and that’s why he remains successful. We’re always glad to see good things happen to Harvest Land customers. This contest is no exception.”
soybean

Early planting. Seed treatment. And always, the weather.

Those are the keys to the record-yield Asgrow beans that winners of the 2016 Asgrow national yield contest raised, with yields in the 100-bushel and 80-bushel-an-acre range.

Congratulations, Bill!

We look forward to working with you

towards a successful growing season again this year . 

 

 

 

Much of this information originally appeared in an  Agri-News article. 

Forum in Photos

On Wednesday we had another successful Winter Innovation Forum where several hundred farmer-members and non-members attended the event to listen to industry leaders present on energy, global markets, political and policy changes, management solutions and agronomic updates, advancements and more. It was a full day!

We thought rather than try to even begin to explain how the day turned out, we’d share with you some photos of the event.

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Many thanks to everyone who attended, at partners who had displays, our speakers who each brought so much insight to the attendees and Harvest Land employees who put in countless hours to produce such an event. 

Confused Winter = Opportunity

Have you seen the weather forecast for the week ahead?

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A year ago we wondered if a snow storm might prohibit farmers from making their way to the Winter Innovation Forum (it didn’t, but the way; 700 growers showed up) and this year we wonder if potential attendees may be planting corn.

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Mother Nature is sure playing an interesting card and keeping temperatures above freezing for the next 15 days. The problem with abnormally warm temperatures in February is that people begin to get a little too aggressive on their spring planning and a (very likely still to happen) cold snap could really mess up the best laid plans.

For instance:

crocuses-wallpaper-1343-1474-hd-wallpapersGrandma’s crocuses are coming up and she’s already looking for a reason to begin searching for perennials to plant. Crocuses are beautiful, but seeing them in February means their pretty buds may not make it through the month of March when the cold, true winter weather returns. Additionally, she’s already filled the north end of the dining room table with her garden starts, anxious to get seed in the ground. Now her dining room table only seats 3 instead of six; that’s why you’ll have to eat in shifts.

Seed starts

Mom already washed and stored all of the coveralls in a wishful-thinking kind of way. She is hoping that Mother Nature is, in fact, a Mother and no mom in her right mind would want to bring out the worn out Carhartts once they’ve been double washed and stored.

 

carhartts

While the warm winter weather may seem like a good time to celebrate spring, the truth is that this is an ideal time to get fertilizer spread on your fields. Take advantage of the sunshine and dry days and prepare now for spring’s work load. Spreading fertilizer in February reduces future work load in the extremely busy spring days. Contact your YieldPro Specialist now to take advantage of this window in February to get some of April’s work done.

That way you have more time for other things, such as helping Grandma plant those tomatoes or lugging that 50 lb. tote of clean Carhartts up to the shop loft for your mother.

 

LAST CHANCE!! Register for the 2017 Winter Innovation Forum here

 

Seats Filling for Winter Innovation Forum

We were going through our Winter Innovation Forum registrations and noticed a few names not on the list.

Yours was actually one of them.

This single-day event saves you the time and hassle of attending 5 farmer meetings throughout the cold months. Instead, register now to attend our Winter Innovation Forum and get the information you need to thrive – not just survive – in this agriculture climate.

muncie-star_full-page-run-feb-2017

This event will be well worth your time,
and that is a statement we’ll stand behind.

Four Proven Truths About Farmer Meetings

We had our 2017 Annual Meeting Tuesday night at the county fairgrounds. Our farmer-members have schedules that are inundated with meetings, so annually we discuss the value in each meeting that Harvest Land hosts or organizes.

This meeting continues to draw a larger crowd than we anticipate each year. Tuesday we counted 12 seats not filled. That’s cutting it too close for comfort according to the event coordinator! This evening consists of a brief business meeting, the announcement of Board election results and a meal catered by Willie & Red’s.

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Year after year, as farmers file in the doors to get away from the January weather, we can count on a few consistencies. Perhaps because farmers are set in their ways, or are somewhat predictable, we can always count on these four proven truths about farmer meetings:

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You can expect early arrivals.

I don’t know what it is about farmers, but they’re quite often early and very rarely late. Last evening may have been a record; one couple showed up more than an hour prior to the meeting starting. No doubt, had crops been in the ground they would have arrived just a little later (but never late), only because they would have driven 45 mph. all the way to town as they checked out how neighbors’ crops were doing. But in January? I guess they just wanted to be first in the food line. Which brings me to the next point.

You’ll never throw out food.

Ever. No food goes to waste because farmers are conservative savers and appreciative of a meal with their community. There was food left over Tuesday night and our CEO stood and announced that seconds were available. There was then an instant choir of chairs scooting across the concrete floor as folks stood to fill their plates, again. But even after seconds from our farmer-members, we had food left over. This is where the spirit of rural America (rather than the appetite) set in: a loyal co-op customer and his wife packaged every ounce of the remaining food (roast beef, friend chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, broccoli salad, coleslaw, rolls with butter and 5 different desserts) and delivered it to the local soup kitchen. We were so happy to have this meal bless others in our community this week.

You’ll never leave with goodies to take back to the office.

We set up a display table with assorted information about our business services as well as “trinkets” with our logo on them. The trinkets consisted of several of each of the following: farmer caps, winter knit hats (I call them toboggans, but some think that’s a sled), 2017 calendars, ice scrapers, insulated lunch totes and ink pens. Do you know how many items I had to pack up after the event? Three: A stray rubber band, a calendar and a lone ink pen. My dad always said, “If it’s free, take two” and I guess most farmers have that same mentality.

You can expect late departures.

As sure as the early arrivals will roll in, you can count on having to push some farmers (or, farmers’ wives?) out the door at the conclusion of the meeting. We hate to use the phrase, “You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here,” so we just start cleaning up our venue in hopes that they’ll catch on to the fact that the meeting ended an hour ago. If that doesn’t work, we resort to shutting off rows of lights, one at a time. If push really comes to shove, we remind folks that they’ll see their friend (or, competitor?) at the diner in 9 hours to continue their anhydrous conversation over coffee.

Things are changing fast in our world, but isn’t in great to know that as sure as change comes on, some things will always stay the same? We look forward to this event every year because it brings in new members and old, to one event to celebrate another harvest in the books over a meal, together.

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Thanks to everyone that attended our 2017 Annual Meeting.
We’ll see you next year.
Save me a seat close to the dessert table, won’t you?

Grain Marketing Goals in 2017

The activity within our businesses is all very different right now:

Agronomy: Harvest is clearly over, seed for the 2017 planting season is purchased but we still have a few months before it goes into the ground.

Energy: Our propane and fuel oil trucks are burning up (no pun intended) the roads
throughout our trade area to ensure homes are _dsc0726being heated during this roller coaster winter weather.

Feed: Our grind and mix services and Kalmbach Feeds of Indiana joint venture remain strong as livestock haven’t lost their appetite during cold winter days.

Grain: This business is in full affect year-around, and our grain marketing department continues to offer expert consultation to our farmer-members.

We found this information from White Commercial Corporation quite valuable, and as a service to our farmer-members, wanted to pass it on to you.

 

January:  A Time For Setting Goals

The end of harvest and the end of a calendar year provide opportunities to relax and reflect. It’s also a time of year that includes that most necessary of evils, income tax preparation.

Since participation isn’t voluntary, is there a way to find some good in the process? There might be. Farming is filled with unknowns, but going through the numbers brings some knowns to light, and with them a chance to think about what might be changed to improve future outcomes.

Regarding Old Crop (2016 Harvest):_dsc0067

Here are some things you know or can figure out:

1. Cost of production per acre

2. Actual yield per acre

3. Amount received (or to be received) for the 2016 crop that you have sold so far

4. Amount of bushels that you have left to sell

Calculate the value of your 2016 crop as of today by adding what you have sold to what you would receive if you sold the rest of the crop today. Then ask yourself, “Where does that put me in terms of profit?”

If you like what you see, then your plan is simple – take it off the table by selling. If nothing else, ask yourself whether you’re willing to put that at risk by waiting any longer to sell. If you are not satisfied with what you see, then it’s time determine the results you want and translate those into a target price on the remaining bushels that will make it happen.

soybeanThere is also a middle road – you can use Minimum Price Contracts. These give you a guaranteed price floor while leaving the upside open to capture a higher price if the market should rally. You get the minimum price upon delivery and may get more if the market rallies. You can also enter a target contract to automatically execute pricing if the market rallies your desired amount.

Regarding the 2017 Crop:

Take a good look at what you already know for sure. Have you pre-paid all or part of your fertilizer, seed and/or chemical bills? What do you expect your cost per acre to be for 2017 vs what you cost was in 2016? How many acres of the respective crops do you plan to have along with the yield you would expect to raise on those acres?

Once you have this information, it’s important to take the next step and determine what kind of profit you would like to receive by adding an expected profit per acre for each crop to the cost and determine how much revenue you will need to generate per acre. Divide that number by the expected yield and you have your target price you will need to achieve for 2017.

Some other things that you may wish to consider in your plan:

1. Am I willing to sell prior to the spring insurance prices being set?

2. How much do I need to sell at harvest and how much will I be keeping on the farm for post-harvest delivery?

3. What do I anticipate my cash flow needs to be, i.e. when am I going to need cash?

4. How much am I willing to contract prior to harvest?

In Summary:

There are a lot of very important decisions to be made in the coming months, the better informed you are about your own operation the better position you are in to be decisive when opportunity arises. Given the volatility in the markets and critical nature of these decisions, we would suggest that you talk through the numbers with your business partners, spouse, and any other key people, then set some pricing targets that will allow to you reach your goals._dsc0768

Next, stop in or schedule a time to visit with us about contracting options that will help you get the job done for 2016 and 2017 crops. Your continued success is crucial to ours, so we are here to help.

Grain Marketing Manager, Ron Smith, is located at our Kalmbach Feeds of Indiana office in Pershing and would be happy to answer your questions as set your marketing goals. Ron can be reached at 1-888-855-1727.

Doing What’s Right

While there is certainly something to be said for sticking to a routine, that plan doesn’t always work in our line of business. Constant customer interactions, changing weather and moving parts seem to guide our daily work into various directions.

We’ve learned that as long as you do what is right, things usually work out. Time and history will tell you that our best employees go where they’re needed, when they’re needed and do the things that need to be done.

Late last week’s events are a perfect example of that.

Last Thursday afternoon our Monroe, Indiana office received a phone call asking for urgent help. The out-of-state caller was reporting a leak in their relative’s fuel oil tank, used to heat their home. The office noted the name of the relative, only to realize that they were not a current customer of our’s; we learned quickly that they bought their fuel oil from a competitor. Processing the situation, we asked why they didn’t contact their fuel provider to report the problem, only to learn that they had. The relative’s energy provider had denied them service.

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This – of course – shocked us, and though we weren’t exactly sure what was about to unfold, we knew that we couldn’t leave this stranger in a potentially dangerous situation. Remembering our commitment to always do what is right, the wheels were soon kicked into motion and our Harvest Land employees got to work.

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Our Risk Management Team: Their services were utilized to evaluate the risk of getting involved in a fuel-leak situation when Harvest Land was not the company that set the fuel tank, maintained it or filled it. Since they weren’t a customer, Julie on our Risk Management team had no record of prior trouble. We also needed to identify how much fuel had leaked at this point: was there a hazardous material risk? It was later determined that there was no haz-mat danger at this point.

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Our Administrative Team: Our Administrative team jumped into gear trying to find a prior history with this person that we may already have their contact information and home address on file. No such history was found by Teri, Katie and Shelly; this individual had never done business with Harvest Land.

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Our Energy Team: Our energy team traveled to the individual’s home and assessed the situation. They inspected the tank, surrounding area and evaluated any maintenance issues. They determined that an entirely new tank needed to be set and of course, filled. Dana, Charlie and Joe all worked together to get this tank set within hours of receiving the urgent call for help and also filling it with product to keep the home warm in these winter months.

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Before close of business Friday – a mere 24 hours after the initial call for help – , we received the following email from the individual’s daughter. You see, the person with the tank leak was an elderly woman, living hundreds of miles and a state away from her family.

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If you rely on the evening news to capture a glimpse of what’s going on around us, it is easy to became quite frightened of the world we’re living in. But if you live day-to-day committed to doing what’s right, you’ll find yourself surrounded by good people and encouraging stories in the everyday.

Harvest Land is committed to doing what’s right and we’re proud to take care of neighbors in need throughout the small communities in which we live and work.