Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Farming in a VUCA World

VUCA is a term coined by our armed forces and is an acronym that stands for.
  • Volatile
  • Uncertain
  • Complex
  • Ambiguous
The weather alone this last year was extremely VUCA. A record snowfall in May and 50 tornadoes in November, for example

So how does a farmer and the families he serves deal with the elements of uncertainty and complexity?

Here are some ideas.
  • Diversify - don't put all your eggs in the same basket. We grow 50 different crops and 150 different varieties. If weather or disease is unfavorable the other crops will take up the slack. For example, this last spring we had a very poor garlic crop. When that became evident, I used the well composted rows to plant carrots, beets and a couple more rows of onions. 
  • Eliminate Debt - Getting out of debt and having 3-6 months of expenses in an emergency fund can smooth out a lot of financial uncertainty. Can you imagine how much more profitable your farm can be if you have no debt payments
  • Save for the Future - Financial advisers recommend 15% of annual income.
  • Grow and shop locally. Short lines of transportation mean no disruptions. Local dollars spent stay in the local economy and are multiplied may times.
  • Learn to adapt to change:  new tools, better versions of old tools, new ideas, reemergence of sound old ideas. New learning techniques like on-line learning.
  • Respect for the environment and stewardship of our resources, soils, energy and recycling.

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