One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is taking my students on a road trip. That’s where the rubber really meets the road. We spent two days in Harrisonburg, VA, on a field trip for the Agricultural Problem Solving course. This region is one of the top 15 agricultural revenue areas in the U.S. Major commodities include poultry, dairy, beef and grain. Wow, did the students ever learn a lot!
Later in the week I attended the 2002 Agricultural Economic Symposium in Destin, FL. When I left Virginia, it was 58º. When I arrived in Florida, it had dropped to 28º with a wind chill of 18º. I thought the plane had been diverted to Canada!
At the symposium, we had 120 producers and agribusiness people from North America, an outstanding group. We conducted an Agritrek program that extended to 22 states.
Our questions focused on the U.S. Farm Bill. As far as I’m concerned, the bill looks out the rear-view mirror and does not address the emerging agricultural and global consumer. Granted, we need a certain level of farm payments for national security and transition into a global economy. However, these payments are taking away from the management initiative and creative thinking that will be needed to perform in a global economy.
Perspectives from the Field Trip
"FEAR" - False, Evidence, Appearing, Real
The perspective of the unknown is often the inhibitor of taking a business to the next level.
Six recommendations of a younger producer who has been successful:
A need for adequate working capital in this roller-coaster economy.
- A crop insurance and risk management program is critical when financially leveraged.
- Purchase used equipment and delay construction.
- Limit expensive "Killer Toys" – personal and business.
- Having good records and knowing cost of production is critical.
- Goals are a dream with a deadline.
It was great to see the Canadian hockey team win. Sorry USA, but hockey was created in Canada and followed very closely by its people.
"Spring Breakers" are back. Long lines! Don’t be first or second in line or you will get the random check.
Next week, I will be all over the North American map, maybe even in some snowstorms.My e-mail address is: [email protected] 
Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.
To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.
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