19 Sep The Farming Enigma
A tourist motoring the meandering roads through fog veiled valleys and rich rolling hills speckled black angus and merinos could easily assume the virtues of a farmer being that of a romantic chorus of boardie collies lying on verandas with the sound of swaying wheat and canola brushing against the garden fence in a soft breeze.
Little would be known as to what the realities of a farmer’s life is like behind the scenic veil. How could they. The scenery is as vast as it is beautiful. Hence the illusion of the farming enigma.
The weather is the most talked about topic in the farming community. It is the gate opener for all conversation. It leads the discussion on tax analysis with their accountants, the price of fuel with their neighbour and even to themselves as they open the door in the pre-dawn light.
Psychologically it permeates incessantly to front of mind as it dictates the life and livelihood of our farmers. It is the most powerful and uncontrollable variable within the business. The science of farming itself, albeit evolving, is approaching text book. Agronomic and nutritional experts can plan procedure and generate budgets on the back of seasonal events that remain “true” to an optimal outcome. Unfortunately, mother nature throws out a different menu to the farming ecological table. It is then up to the fortitude and courage of our farmers to stand true in the advent of variability.
First, probitatis roborabitur vir (honesty prevails). Let it be known we are not experts on all matters of farming. We cannot compete against the intimate knowledge acquired by the generational existence of our farmers and farming clients who have worked the land for generations. We cannot improve on their technical and operational expertise that has been finely adjusted through toil and incremental experimentation. They are their own farming master craftsman.
But we do know banking and farm finance. And with thousands of interactions with farmers over the past 20 years, even the best farmers say they have left 1.0% on the table for improvement.
By tapping into intuitive intelligence, we can turn that 1.0% into another 99% of opportunity. This is by curating the architectural view of banking into a whole new level of vertical development for the farming business.
First it is an acknowledgement that the banking platform is a new exciting arena for which business improvement can be sourced. The historic road block into this domain has been fear of the unknown and the fear of change.
As Mark Divine from San Diego, California noted (a former Navy Seal), warriors run towards fear. On the other side of fear is knowledge and mission success, and with this comes mental clarity. Mark calls it “feeding the courage”.
A farming warrior always challenges the status quo for incremental improvement. Now they have their banking to focus on as well.
Contingency planning is all about learning how to navigate Murphy’s Law as, according to Mark “no plan can survive contact with the enemy”. For farming, the enemy is represented by events that are outside of their control. Taking it one step further, there is also contingency planning capability on “the unknowable unknown”. Experiencing drought is not a failure in a farming business, it is expected. It is learning what can be done about when it does occur.
On our side of the equation, it is about being prepared from a funding perspective. First and fore-most it is about preventing a quintessential funding crisis (understanding funding risk and the metrics that measure it). Second, it is then about economic efficiencies and capital flexibility.
There is a thesis in this topic alone. But farmers are not alone. With professional expertise in agronomic and nutritional science, we represent the league of financial surgeons that can elevate a business to a new level.
Keep on being farming warriors and we look forward hopefully sharing the journey with you.