Let me start with a question: When you opened your lunch pail at school, did your mother pack you hummus with jicama sticks? (Are you googling jicama right now?) Mine certainly didn’t. I’m a solid, 1970s-born Gen Xer, and the funkiest thing I ever had in my Little House on the Prairie lunchbox was a half-eaten bologna sandwich leftover from the weekend. Yet my 10-year-old niece has this treat regularly.

Actually, I rather like hummus and the pre-packaged, pre-cut jicama sticks I get at the local grocery. Now, so does my friend, Pete, a farmer from Iowa. Two years ago, he started growing chickpeas— also known as garbanzo beans, the base ingredient in hummus—on contract for a global producer of the savory spread. Pete has been a corn farmer for 30 years. But recently, he replaced much of his regular No. 2 yellow dent corn production with chickpeas and converted a dedicated space in his new grain facility to segregate and house the product. His chickpea buyer comes directly to him to pick it up. Once he penciled out the profits, Pete has never looked back.

Enter Fundamental Shift #3 –the Global Marketplace Comes to Your Door. You’re more involved in this shift already than you may realize, and in doing so, you may decide to take this shift to the next level for profit. How do that?

Consider some facts:

Global crop production has been steadily increasing in recent decades. These competitive pressures on traditional row crops, such as corn and soybeans, are only increasing the glut of U.S. grain as South America continues to produce, and Eastern Europe gains traction. As an industry, we know these competitors are not going away, but adapting our crop mix is a difficult sell. After all, just two generations ago, small, diverse farms gave way to larger, specialized operations—a trend that continues in developed nations. Yet, with the increase in buyers and premiums for nontraditional crops, your next CEO will have to take a hard look at diversity again to remain profitable.

So, have you named an international ambassador for your farm yet?

ACT Like A Pro Out There!
-Sarah Beth Aubrey