Major cow-calf conference coming to Stettler this month

Cow-Calfenomics coming here Jan. 25 offering reams of information

Submitted by Alberta Agriculture

Cow-Calfenomics 2017/2018 is coming to a community near you in January 2018.

“This year we have again, put together a well rounded agenda with interesting speakers and topics on farm business management in the Alberta cow-calf business,” says Rick Dehod, farm financial specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF).

This year’s presentations and presenters are:

• Ann Wasko, market analyst from Gateway Livestock will speak on the cattle market situation and outlook. Ann brings her insight in to the Beef markets and what the market outlook could be going forward.

• Brenda Hagen, project coordinator for the Western Livestock Price Insurance program, will explain the use of risk management tools in the beef industry. She will outline the various tools available to protect your profit, and how different tools will work in different market situations.

• Joel Bokenfohr, AF, will speak on business structures for new entrants. Anyone who is entering in to the business will find this beneficial. Joel will review what business structure could allow you to retain your profit and grow your business.

• Herman Simons, AF, will speak on production enterprise analysis, Herman reminds us that most farms have numerous enterprises, but often we don’t know which one makes money and which one loses. Often we keep doing what we have been doing when good enterprise analysis will give you the information to make changes that will increase the profitability of your whole farm with the same resources.

• Rick Dehod, AF, will speak on a farmer’s guide to agricultural credit. Agriculture is a capital intensive business, and debt is a tool to enhance the opportunity for profit. But like any tool you have to understand its use and features to get full benefit for your farm. There is a lot to consider when taking on debt, and the cost, interest rate, is not the only thing to consider before you sign on the dotted line

• ML Manglai, AF, will review the AF AgriProfit$ Beef program and how this tool provides information that can be used as a benchmark for your own operation.

• A Canadian Cattlemen Young Leader participant will reflect on the value of having a mentor. The Young Leadership program includes mentorship and is important to the program’s success.

“It’s a full day, with a lot of great information, that any farm manager can utilize and incorporate into their farm management tool box, wherever they are in their careers,” says Dehod.

Cow-Calfenomics will be held in three locations in January: January 23, 2018, Vermilion Regional Centre , January 24, 2018, Westlock Inn & Conference Centre and January 25, 2018, Stettler Agriculture Society.

Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the session runs from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“The Alberta Beef Producers continue to recognize the importance of engaging our youth into the industry and are sponsoring the registration of students and producers who are 25 years of age or younger. A big thank you to the Alberta Beef Producers,” says Dehod.

Please register by Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The registration fee is $30 (GST is included in the price) and includes lunch. Registration for students and young producers (those under 25) is free and is sponsored by the Alberta Beef Producers.

To register, please call the Ag-Info Center at 1-800-387-6030 or register online at https://eservices.alberta.ca/cowcalfenomics.html .

If you are exempt from paying GST, please call 1-800-387-6030 to register.

10-year plan ‘must haves’

“When asked what their plan is for the next 10 years, farmers often say they haven’t had a chance to work on it yet,” says Rick Dehod, farm financial specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Whether the next generation is ready to take over, or you are in the prime of your farming career, you need to ask yourself what the farm business will look like 10 years from now.”

When it comes to putting together a ten-year farm plan, there are several important areas that need to be considered.

Employees/family members. “Family will always be the focus of Canadian farms, but we see more non-family members being involved as farms increase in size and scope. Many farms have non-family members with a significant role and responsibility in the farm operation.”

Dehod says that, whether family or non-family members, workers must be clear on their roles and responsibilities.

• How are they being trained, and rewarded?

• How do they fit into the culture of the farm?

• Are they passionate and committed to the farm’s success?

• Do they know what success looks like?

• Are they part of the team?

“Businesses evolve and are always seeking improvement. Does your business culture allow family and non-family employees to provide input for new improvements? If your team sees that you listen and implement their ideas, the trust and commitment can be a great motivator. Sometimes, farms will not take the next step as they don’t have family that is interested or the desire to manage employees. The farm cannot grow as it does not have the manpower to do so.”

Communication. “Once you have determined what your 10-year plan looks like, let your entire team know,” says Dehod. “This is a living document. Live it. Communicate often, it will keep family and employees engaged and focused on the vision. Make sure your team knows that you appreciate their contribution to the plan. They’ll go above and beyond with good communication. This passion will prepare your farm to take the next step.”

Standard Operating Procedures. “We all have our way of doing things. But as we assemble our teams, family or non-family, procedures have to be standardized and communicated. You can’t expect things to be done to your satisfaction if noone knows what’s expected of them. Standardized procedures also increase efficiency and safety. But procedures have to be documented and checklist created. You require complete buy-in from all family and non-family members. This is a critical step and it has to be done right, as not doing so could have expensive consequences.”

Technology. Technology is changing rapidly, says Dehod, and there is more data now than in the past to help evaluate processes and decisions. “How do you intend to embrace this change and use technology to your advantage to meet your vision and goals? Your grandfather would have never envisioned GPS guidance or zero till. We have mapped the genomes of beef and our major crops. Modern agriculture has embraced technology. Exciting things will happen in the next 10 years, but how will you keep up? Life-long learning is key to keeping up.”

Customers. Customers want to know more and more about food production. “They wants open and transparent information about issues such as animal welfare, traceability, and sustainability, they want information about their food products. Standard operating procedures and the adoption of technology are being influenced by your customers. What are you doing to meet their expectations and keep your market open? How will you fit this into your ten-year plan?”

Finance. While people often talk about ratios and returns on investment, these numbers ebb and flow. “What we really have to understand that these numbers are the result of the decisions that we make. If you want to improve your profitability and equity, look at the decisions that produced past results. Go through those results to review your decisions.

We know that there are profit leaks that are a persistent drain of revenue and resources that don’t show up on the ledger or on the accountings statements. If you look after the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves. Be vigilant, and address these leaks. If you can increase your returns by five per cent and decrease your costs by five per cent, your farm will realize better profits. Better profits provide the funds for your farm to grow and fulfill your plans.”

For more information go to the Farm Manager Homepage (http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/bus14419) or contact Rick Dehod at 780-427-4466.

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