This past weekend I went to the Ohio Young Ag Professionals conference. What did I learn? What did I take away? What experiences shaped my thinking? These are always the questions I ask myself after any event like this. Here is what I have concluded from this adventure.
What did I learn? I learned a great deal about myself and the opportunities that are available for young farmers. I didn't really have any idea what all the Farm Service Agency had to offer me, and a beginning farmer. I have always known that being an active farmer, that being out there on the tractor and taking care of my animals makes me a little unusual by societies standards for what a woman typically does. I had no idea that it qualifies me as a minority in the world of agricultural lending. Are you a woman who is pulling her own weight on the farm? Or is your wife equally yoked in the time, blood, sweat and tears? This apparently would be helpful to you if you are a "new" farmer trying to get financed. Now, I just learned about this, this past weekend. Therefore I haven't had time to put it into investigating the logistics of all of this. But if this is true and it works, then our farm might have some new opportunities on the horizon.
What did I learn about myself? That I really want to make a go of profitable, growing, cutting edge farming. I think we are on the verge of getting there, but we just needed the know how to look at our farm successful in the coming years. I also discovered that I am a planner.. and that I stand completely behind the idea that "if we fail to plan, we plan to fail". Jim and I are the only ones on the farm, so that means we often overlook the importance of scheduling "business meetings" to talk about the annual goals, seasonal goals and long term goals of the farm. We now consider ourselves the board of directors :) and are mapping out our long and short term goals. Underneath the goals, we are going to list the action plans for each of these goals.. and systematically check them off the list!
If these two big concepts were derived from one great conference then I am thankful that I took the time to be away from my family for just a couple of days in order to gain information and perspective. If you have attended a conference for awhile, even if you are not new farmers, I encourage you to take the opportunity to do so. Check with your county Farm Bureau and Extension office and see if there are any regional or statewide events coming up so that you can enhance your learning.
If you are in the NE region of Ohio, here is a link to an upcoming event that might peak your interest. The topics are geared toward specialty crops and other niche markets. I am planning on attending, and hopefully I will have gained just as much as I did at the Young Ag Professional Conference hosted by the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF Website ).
Conference Link for March 31st: Living your small farm dream