Several weeks ago, I took the road show to Halifax, Canada, and toured the province of Nova Scotia. If any of you have never been to Eastern or Atlantic Canada, I suggest you visit. The agricultural industry is very diverse and if you like vacationing, the harbor in Halifax and learning that the Cajuns from Louisiana were originally from Nova Scotia is a great history lesson. I was lucky to see a tidal wave – the real deal – in the Bay of Fundy and it was particularly high, 10 to 16 feet, due to the full moon.
The producers I visited with were diverse, ranging from soybeans to blueberries to 320 dairy farms, many with Dutch ancestry. Many Canadian producers, like American producers, were struggling with making the transition from day-to-day managers to strategic or CEO-type managers. Issues centered on the following:
- Giving up control to workers and the next generation.
- Time management and vacation time.
- Managing against a weak American dollar.
- Population growth in agricultural areas.
- Knowing cost of production by enterprise.
- Taking time to develop the strategic plan.
- Once developing a strategic plan, then implementing it and measuring success.
Some progressive management practices I observed were:
- Posting of vision/mission statement in plain view.
- Working closely with the accountant to develop financial metrics/measures.
- Real understanding of international markets.
One father and son could not communicate with each other during a family business transition. Anger, shouting and little communication occurred while face-to-face. The lawyers were finally able to obtain agreement on ideas and common ground. Bottom line cost: $200,000. Sometimes communication challenges can be expensive and keep lawyers fully employed because people are hardheaded!
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Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.
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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