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The Production Paralysis Grip

environment not be conducive to growth you will not get a big tree.

Timing is everything, and so to it is for creating outliers. When we are born, can in fact play just as much impact as into what social class we are born. We all know most people have peaks for learning, risk taking and energy. When these elements are combined with socio impacts like a recession or economic boom it can result in two completely different outcomes for the individual. In fact, these factors then set the path for life. So this brought me to thinking.

The average age of farmers and ranchers in Canada is now well over 58. This means that most were in their mid 20s during the 1970s when farming was really booming and of course many would have had their fingers slapped quite hard being in their 30s during the high interest rate period of the last recession. This created risk aversion. It was also a time that if you were a good producer you tended to make good money; mind you it was also a time of a low-valued dollar. Either way the association of hard work and production being rewarded with reasonable returns developed. This mindset has become engrained in our agriculture culture. Worse yet the myth continues to be kept alive by everybody from government to agribusinesses to research associations to universities and producer groups — either directly or indirectly — keeping the focus on production rather than marketing as a way out of a viscous circle. Remember lunacy is the act of repeating a process and expecting different results.

The future of farming is not about production, it’s about marketing and climbing up the value chain. Although many of us know this, why is it so difficult to change the direction. It’s because of production paralysis!

Gladwell argues that to become great at a skill an individual needs 10,000 hours of practice. Many may believe that individuals like the Bill Gates, Albert Einsteins and Wayne Gretzkeys of this world were born with an inherent ability in their fields of expertise. It is true they were born with certain genes, however that is only one small part. Yes the moons were in part lined up correctly, but more importantly all of these individuals spent thousands of hours honing their skills before they could do them in their sleep. Practice makes perfect.

Our industry is made of production experts, because of the thousands of hours they have spent perfecting it. Without batting an eye most farmers can figure out how to increase rates of gain, milk production or crop yields, however when it comes to marketing and increasing the value of their products, their ideas stall out like a truck with no gas.

After reading this book and meeting the good dentist I realized more than ever that teaching an old dog a new trick is an impossible task. What our ag industry needs is to teach the new dogs the new tricks and to set up the environment for this to happen, only then will we see an end to production paralysis and the start of marketing in motion.

Dr. Christoph E. Weder is a purebred Angus breeder in the Peace region of Alberta and also runs SVR Ranch Consulting. He is founding member of Prairie Heritage Beef Producers For additional info check out

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