Farmers Need An Agronomy Doctor

Six months ago, I went to the doctor for a check-up.  The doctor was blunt.  He told me I need to eat more fruits and vegetables, and exercise more. And most disturbing to me, he told me to lose weight!  At the time, I wasn’t very thrilled with his advice.  But I listened.  Since then, I started exercising a little more.  I stopped eating between meals (for the most part).  And best of all, I have lost 15 pounds.

What if doctors failed to initiate difficult discussions or offer advice?  What if doctors withheld information fearing their patients would find a different doctor?  Most doctors don’t make a lot of money on wellness visits. They make more money when testing for problems and when procedures are involved. But that doesn’t stop doctors from giving tough recommendations.

Recently I overheard an ag retailer say he thought talking to farmers about conservation was not a good practice because the conversation could damage his relationship with the farmer. He went on to explain that it was unlikely he could make much money by offering conservation services; that ultimately profit was in product sales.

What if my doctor had refused to give wellness advice? I know my doctor does not make his money on my wellness visits. Instead he makes his money on sick people.  He would make a lot more money from me if I had high blood pressure and diabetes.  If I were hospitalized, he would make even more money.  Fortunately, none of this crazy thinking stopped my doctor from doing his job. 

Likewise, as a farmer I would want my most trusted advisor, my ag retailer, to help me with conservation issues.  Sure, I might be I little shocked if my ag retailer suggested I could reduce soil erosion and thereby improve my soil health.  I might feel a little uneasy if he told me that I needed a waterway.  And I might be a little disturbed if he said I was partly responsible for the local water quality issue.  However, I know that I would respect my ag retailer more if he told me what I needed to know, not what I wanted to hear.  If you are the most trusted advisor, your relationship will withstand the strain of straightforward advice.   

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