Consulting for the big players
New groups of farmland owners are slowly edging into agricultural production, and they will require agricultural consultants to offer services using new business approaches.
Taking a futuristic view of how agricultural customers are changing and the issues that have to be addressed in finances and farm policy were major topics talked about by David Kohl, Ph.D., agricultural economist, and John Blanchfield, with the American Bankers Association, during the American Society of Agricultural Consultants annual meeting in Washington, D.C., at the end of October.
Kohl sees a change from ownership by little old ladies who outlived their husbands. He sees a group of technologically savvy businessmen and businesswomen taking direct responsibility for farming operations, and these will be entrepreneurial owners. They could easily be heirs who have been successful in non-agricultural businesses and decided to return to manage farming operations using their strong business knowledge to have a different focus than a traditional commodity grain farmer or livestock producer.
Kohl is a professor emeritus from the Agricultural & Applied Economics Department of Virginia Tech University. He is a futurist economist always looking ahead using the past as proof of trends. He also is part owner of an organic dairy that distributes products in southeast coastal states. He can be seen as similar in some ways to the group of ag entrepreneurs the described in his presentation.
FUTURE AG ENTREPRENEURS
John Blanchfield, American Bankers Association, spoke to members of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants. The ag entrepreneurs he described will be business savvy on how to obtain startup working capital, and these landowners will be looking to expand. “They are going to farm multiple counties, multiple states and sometimes multiple countries,” Kohl said.
The business enterprises will often be multiple family entities, but also include non-relatives as investors because the business concepts will be capital intensive and require investment money. Some of the enterprises will own businesses other than production agriculture. They could own a John Deere dealership as well as a hotel franchise, Kohl contends.
These non-agricultural professionals who step into farming in a big way will be what Kohl calls “energetic lifelong learners.” They are persons who keep looking for opportunity and “thinking young” and are progressive whether they are 50 years old, 60 years old or even older. Without a doubt, they will use the latest technology.
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