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How to move forward when uncertainty runs high

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High uncertainty requires clear focus from farm leaders.

In the agricultural sector and in your farming career, it often seems like there’s no end to uncertainty, doesn’t it? Whether it’s input prices, the global economic situation, or the fluctuating grain markets, it can start to feel like everything “out there” is entirely unknown – or even unknowable.

Even when farm leaders look internally at what’s going on in their own farm operations, it can seem full of unknown. Maybe there’s uncertainty about what to do about some upcoming major capital investments on the farm, or maybe there’s big uncertainty around what the farm’s future will look like in terms of who and what will be involved, or how things will transition to the next generation.

When this happens – when farm leaders find themselves focusing on all the uncertainty, all the unknowns – it can be very difficult to create a way forward. With so much in the “unknown” category regarding the future, the temptation becomes to do, well, nothing. Leaders can start to believe they are stuck due to the high level of uncertainty.

Moving forward

What’s the way out when uncertainty is running high? The first step to take is to focus on what you can control – rather than what you can’t control. There are many things outside of our farm operations that we can’t control, and we immediately might start to feel powerless if we focus only on them.

But on the flip side, there are also many things that we can control in our operations – aspects that can make a big difference. Choosing to find and focus on what we have control over is the starting point to moving forward in decision-making when uncertainty is running high.

In any challenging decision or situation you encounter as a farm leader, work on stopping first to ask yourself: What can I impact or affect in this situation? You can also take a moment to acknowledge and then let go of the factors that you really can’t control or change. Then turn your focus back to what you can control or impact.

Effective leaders

Choosing to place your focus in the aspects or areas where you can take action greatly empowers you to be effective at a high level of leadership. It also lets you take true responsibility for the aspects that you have control over in your operation and choose to take positive action to impact your results and your farm’s success.

I see the best farm leaders doing this again and again. They choose to take a mindset of taking responsibility and action for what they can control and impact – and they choose to let go of what they truly cannot control.

This lets them be so much more effective in their decision-making and leadership because they are completely free from “victim thinking.” Instead, they are empowered to take proactive steps to improve and work on their farm operation, building it into what they want it to be in the future.

Get perspective on the market

One aspect of the farm that requires smart planning combined with adaptability is the farm’s marketing. Many farmers say that grain marketing isn’t their favorite thing to spend time on. Yet grain marketing is one of the top business drivers impacting the level of success that the farm operation can experience.

Farmers have also found that working with our market advisors has helped ease their minds. The advisors help farmer clients with planning and execution around marketing decisions and help keep them up to speed on the current rapidly-changing grain market situation and how it impacts their operation.

Get a free two-week trial of our marketing information service (MarketView Basic). Your free trial includes regular audio and video updates, technical analysis, recommendations and more. Learn more about our market advisor programs and offerings at

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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