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Practical Wisdom for New Generation of Producers

We teamed up with Farm Journal to ask experienced farmers to share their best advice with young and beginning producers. The result is Practical Wisdom, a series of six articles aimed at transferring the knowledge of one generation to the next. Practical Wisdom is available online on the Farm Journal’s site.

The responses from participating producers shaped the series. Their advice revealed that the fundamentals of farming haven’t changed: Cultivate a team of experts to help you; learn sound finances; practice patience; and master marketing.

A farmer from Minnesota advised young and beginning producers to start with the basics to marketing. Learn the terminology, study the contract options. Just as importantly, he wrote, “don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. Rather, learn from those mistakes.”

We offered advice of our own throughout the series. Tyson Anderson, a financial officer with FCSAmerica’s Lincoln, Neb., office who has experience as a commodities broker, outlined the steps involved in marketing, including:

  • Know your breakeven down to the dime, if not the penny.
  • Compute your desired profit per acre or profit per bushel to establish a profit target.
  • Consider selling your crop in 5 to 10 percent increments – up to your crop insurance guarantee – to further reduce the emotion of marketing.

Rachel Mehlhaf, a financial officer with FCSAmerica’s Sioux Falls, S.D., office, weighed in with tips on how to identify the best advisors to help you grow your operation. Among her advice: “With the ever-changing laws and world environment, it is advantageous to have someone who is not a jack of all trades, but rather an expert in the field.”

More Practical Wisdom articles can be found under Business at We invite you to follow the series to learn what experienced producers and FCSAmerica financial officers recommend for identifying your equipment needs and controlling the related costs, developing sound record-keeping practices, adding value to your operation, and maintaining good relationships with your lender.


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FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.