Would you rather make $50/acre profit on 20,000 acres or $100/acre profit on 10,000 acres?
This is a question I ask any farmer who admits to pursuing aggressive expansion. As was aptly described in a recent edition of FCC’s AgriSuccess in May 2017, journalist Kevin Hursh discusses cost effectiveness of farm expansion with Kristjan Hebert. Kristjan has been quoted in this commentary a number of times in the past because he is the first person I hear using the term “Better is better before bigger is better.” To his credit, he admits that it isn’t his phrase; he heard first heard it from someone else.
The question posed at the beginning of this piece is meant to evoke an admission of any business flaws that have crept in to the practices and decisions that drive aggressive expansion.
The point is acknowledge that for all the risk undertaken in the operations of any agricultural enterprise over the course of one year, the end result must recognize the effort involved and the risk taken. If you’re working harder and risking more, why would you accept less profit? True, the linear dollar profit is the same in this example, but the profit per unit (in this case, per acre) is half. Anyone who can prove that their whole farm costs, right to the paperclips, are also halved is welcome to step up and prove that bigger is in fact better. I’ll wait…
There are many advisors who have questioned why any commodity production business would want to rapidly expand before doing the best job they can on what they already have. The argument on what led to the mindset of expansion at all costs hasn’t been settled in over 20 years, and won’t be settled here today. But in the end, we can do better, we must do better, because now we know better.
And the words are true: Better IS Better…
To Plan for Prosperity
This week’s piece is purposefully pithy. It is meant to drive awareness of the “Costs and Effects™” of the decisions made in our businesses. Every choice we make has a consequence, and to truly “be better,” we must evaluate each business decision on its merit, not how it makes us feel.
While bigger can sometimes be better, it’s guaranteed that better is always better.