5 principles for millennial ranchers to follow

Taken from an article of the same name in BeefMagazine

  1. Patience

It’s unlikely you’ll transition to managing the ranch fresh out of school, particularly if there are still a couple of older generations involved. You may feel like the ranch is your birthright, but it won’t make you successful right out of the gate. Don’t sit around and wait for your inheritance. Know that it took decades for the ranch to be built to its current level, and it will take time for you to achieve your ranching goals, as well.

My Comments are in blue

Don’t think you are going to walk into something; like ranching, in your 20’s; that took generations to build. You will have to pay your dues, just like every generation that has come before you. Remember that only 2% of the population is in Agriculture, if it was easy more would be doing it – after all it is not for everyone and it is definitely not your birthright.

Instead, go off on your own, buy / lease some land, work another job, live in a rat hole if need be, eat skettios for every meal if need be, buy your own cattle, equipment, drive junk to work daily, etc, for about a decade — or more. Prove to the older generation that you really want it bad enough, that you aren’t a quitter and would actually be an asset to the family ranching operation. This is what it will take.

  1. Discipline

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Know when to take advantage of opportunities and when to pull back. The average farm family living expense is close to $90,000 per year. Be willing to make sacrifices, face scrutiny from friends and neighbors and make do with current equipment to avoid falling into financial pitfalls. With discipline, you’ll also be better prepared to move on opportunities as they come along.

If this is your expenses for a young farm family you need to either wake up from that dream or refer to Mori’s #1 in  8 tips from an old timer on how to succeed in ranching

You will have to be willing to watch your peers get married / start a family, buy nice homes, fancy cars, boats, ATV’s, RV’s and go on fabulous vacations while you sit in a rat hole driving an old truck to a second job every day with time off spent repairing old farm junk someone discarded long ago, because you are building something for the future. Debt will be your nemesis. Do that and you will have earned your so-called birthright.

  1. Out-of-the-box thinking

When you come home to the ranch, don’t divide the income that is currently there. Instead, add to the operation by diversifying. This can be in the form of additional crops, a second breed of cattle, a hay enterprise, working remotely in an agri-business position, or doing side jobs to make ends meet. This can alleviate some pressures of the ranch enterprise and allow for more consistent cash flow. Remember that 70% of ranches rely on off-farm income, so be willing to work hard on and off the ranch to advance your pursuits.

Out of the box thinking is good, but do these things on your own place. Go and earn the right to be here. Show some backbone, just because we share the same last name doesn’t mean you deserve it. This may seem harsh to some, but it takes the right kind of mindset to do this work day and day out and under varying and adverse conditions.

  1. Communication

Communication isn’t a cliché; it’s the cornerstone of success for ranchers. Talk with your spouse and make sure your goals align. Talk with your parents and grandparents and know where they stand on transitioning the ranch. Talk with your banker, lawyer and other industry professionals who can help you succeed. And talk with consumers who will ultimately determine the way you do business.

This should have long since been a communication in which you already know you will not walk into a successful ranching operation ready to take over after making a few C’s in college on your parents’ dime. Talk to whomever you want to talk to and refer to #1 and #2. Long since you have already discussed this in detail with your potential or then spouse. refer back to Mori’s #6.

  1. Networking

Get involved. Attend cattlemen’s meetings. Introduce yourselves to folks. Develop your network within the industry. Join a group that is active in policy development and lobbying for the industry. Be at the table for important discussions. The people you meet in the beef cattle industry are a great source of support and learning opportunities.

Networking is good if you can afford a computer in your first couple of years. Be at your own table for important discussions. As you suffer through the decade(s) — you will have then been around long enough to appreciate what those hardships really meant to you and as an aging rancher you will appreciate what it taught you. Also, as you suffer through the challenges ranching provides there are always those people willing to assist a young rancher in his/her endeavor. Lastly, find a mentor, not family, that is successful in ranching.

 

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