Better communication key to ag future

Better communication key to ag future In the future, agricultural producers must learn to communicate more effectively to survive, said Gene Murra, professor emeritus at South Dakota State University.

"Producers know how to produce, that's why we call them producers. In the future, they will need to know how to communicate better," he said. "As more products are sold by contracts, can the producer talk to that other side and negotiate those contracts? Do they understand the contracts they are using?

"How good you are at negotiating and communicating may have almost as much to do with the price you get than the quality of the product," Murra said.

Murra spoke about the future directions of production agriculture at the Minnkota Agri-Builders and Equipment Association annual meeting March 17 in Brookings.

"How we describe farming today is so much different than it used to be and impacts are coming from so many different places," he said.

He said one item that probably will have more impact on agriculture than any other is foreign trade. Today's producers are concerned with the economy and weather all around the world, he noted.

"We're really looking at a global market, not just what's happening here," Murra said. "If you look at any information service and look under grain, they're talking about the weather in Brazil and the harvest there. The corn producer needs to know what's happening in South Africa. Everybody is interested in whether China is a buyer or a seller."

The globalization of markets forces producers to know more about the marketing side of their business, Murra said.

"We also must look at the consumer and aim our products in that direction. That could lead us to niche marketing and value-added products," he said. "Convenience and food safety are as high on the consumer list as price."

Cooperation among producers is necessary for the success of all agricultural businesses. Murra said ag producers are an independent group.

"Generally cattle producers are worse than hog producers and they are worse than grain producers. In total, all may be saying, 'You can't tell me what to do.' That will have to change," he said.

Murra believes that higher profits can be achieved through interdependence and working together. Currently, the cow-calf producer, the backgrounder, the feedlot, and the packer often are enemies. If they worked together, all may survive, he said.

"In livestock, especially cattle, the prices, too often, have been paid on the average. High quality producers don't get a premium and low-quality producers don't get a penalty," he said. "Making the producer know more about the marketing side � being able to evaluate risk, negotiate contracts � is going to become much more important."

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