What’s next for your operation? [ACT Like A Pro #167]

Monday’s survey estimates that US farmers are planting over 92 million acres of corn and over 90 million acres of soybeans this year, continuing to be the top commodities by sheer volume.

Have you stopped to think what’s next for your operation?

What comes after corn? What follows soybeans? Is your company’s product going to remain relevant and profitable in the years to come?

While you maintain or grow your current commodity crop, livestock, agribusiness, or co-op, alternative income streams should be on your mind.

Diversify Small

When it comes to diversifying your income, limit your risk by starting small, says Jayson Lusk, Purdue University’s department head of Agricultural Economics.

In an hour-long presentation all about the why and how to diversify farm income on March 11th (video and full slides are available here), Lusk advocates for starting small and growing from there.

  • Maybe it’s time to consider setting aside 5% of a field for a specialty crop.
  • Perhaps there’s a gap or bottleneck in local grain processing that you have the bandwidth to step into.
  • If you aren’t doing no-till and cover crops, there are options in carbon sequestration from multiple companies.
  • Agritourism, be it u-pick, a farm stand, or renting out land for weddings and parties, might be on the upswing.

Small investments minimize your financial risk, and small projects minimize the amount of time a new venture pulls away from your core operation.

Jayson’s full presentation goes into more detail, but these are the opportunities that might be on your doorstep.

Diversify Smart

For every product, there needs to be a customer.

Start the diversification discussion with your customers, your family, your suppliers, and your network, Lusk emphasizes.

Where is there a gap that you could fill? Is there a new competitive edge you could offer to your customers by expanding your operation to offer one more service, product?

Look for companies offering contracts on specific goods. Maybe it’s a single field of heirloom tomatoes for a contract.

In some cases, Lusk has seen the CAFO belonging to the company, and the operator in charge of the maintenance of the hogs only but doesn’t own anything.

Diversify Now

The time to diversify your company is not when corn and soy prices plummet. By then, you can’t fully think through and experiment with what works best.

The time to diversify is now.


Hear more about diversifying your income with the 2 upcoming webinars in the series co-hosted with Indiana Farm Bureau and Indiana Agriculture Coalition for Renewable Energy.

Join me on the next 2 Thursdays (18th and 25th) as we look at diversifying operation options, and determine if renewable energy resources are right for your land, or if there’s opportunity elsewhere.

We have some great speakers lined up, and I’ll be wrapping up the series on March 25th with a panel of 3 Indiana growers to talk the good, bad, & ugly of their renewable projects (wind, solar, anaerobic digester).

Register now on Zoom to watch the next 2 sessions live