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Tunnel Vision Glasses

Expand your horizons to include a world market view

We all have our own set of eyes and ways of perceiving everything. We tend to get caught up in our own world and think that what's in front of us is all there is ... but this is completely untrue. This spring taught me that very valuable lesson. 

Mother Nature showed us her forces this year in Michigan. We came out of a hard, cold winter that we thought would never end to an unforeseeable spring. First, spring felt like winter for awhile and then we fell into a wet spell. The producers around my area started to become upset and scared about planting season. Even I was afraid for not only my father, but also for every customer I have.

As I visited farms and talked with producers, they just couldn’t see the end in sight. Beets were coming into “late” planting days, as was every other crop. A USDA report was due to come out soon and every producer in our area already knew what the outcome would be — or so we thought. The first report came out as expected, showing that almost nothing was in the ground and we were starting to get behind. But by the time the second report came out, the USDA stated that planting was in full swing and looked positive. I thought "how can this be?" I looked around and hardly anybody had even broken ground yet! What is the USDA talking about? They are nuts! Nor were our markets going through the roof like we thought they would, either. We had no crops in, yet the government was telling us things were fine and the markets stayed steady.

I truly struggled with this report, so I called a few colleagues outside of Michigan and asked about planting in their area. I told them how wet and cold our soil still was, as they proceeded to tell me that nearly all their crops were in. I was baffled! This whole scenario opened up my eyes. It forced me to take off my tunnel vision glasses and look at the big picture. I saw that we are only one part of an entire industry. Even the biggest producers in my area are but a small portion of this agricultural landscape. We need to keep in mind that just because we are struggling with weather, the whole United States may not be. For a producer to sit on last year’s crop because they just “know” that prices are going to go up with the lack of crop due to the Michigan weather is plain ignorant. We cannot simply go off of what we see in our backyards, but instead open our minds and broaden our horizons.

It's human nature to get stuck in our own world and the routine of our daily lives, but we have no reason not to take off our tunnel vision glasses. With today’s global markets, we have no choice but to keep up with the news and happenings all around us. Remember that in order for our agricultural market to continue to grow, we must open up new avenues globally. There will always be a local market, but we can't domestically use all that we grow. Thanks to research and technology, U.S. producers get more production out of our land today than we ever have in history, and this trend will have to continue because, unfortunately, there isn't any way to make more land.

As the world's population continues to grow, we even in the thumb of Michigan have to take a part in helping to feed that population. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it also opens up our local markets to the world. I have never met a cash crop farmer that doesn’t absolutely love to watch the markets on the board of trade go up! This can't happen without keeping the global perspective in mind. Our local markets alone will not get our producers the prices they would like. In my opinion, anyone who is not willing to open their minds to new ideas will be left in the dust. The agricultural world is on a speed train that is flying fast, throw off your tunnel vision glasses and jump aboard for the ride!

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