On a “normal” day people make hundreds of decisions. Because they are “routine” decisions, we don’t really think about them. They are part of our daily “policies and procedures.” It may be that we stop for a cup of coffee at a certain coffee shop or we stop at the gym in the evening.
In the spring of 2020, that “normal” changed for everyone in the developed world in one degree or another. Suddenly, so much of what we took for granted has become disrupted and a potentially dangerous activity. Of course, this is not the first time that the world has had to deal with an epidemic, and we have a lot of resources and knowledge to aid us. And, because it has been awhile since we’ve been on this global emergency level footing, our decision-making must be at a more conscious level for us to survive and potentially find the opportunities for positive outcomes. It is a time that calls for great faith, vigilance, and adaptation.
A month ago I was on a “known” path. Today, I find myself questioning almost every action when I go “outside.” I am blessed to live on land where I can graze my goats so my daily routine of taking them out to pasture is uninterrupted. Likewise, because I was already working from home, my daily work routine has not been severely interrupted, although the number of Zoom calls has increased exponentially.
But, my “outside” is going into town for groceries or going to the post office. Our family has had to develop new policies and procedures based on what we believe to be safe, not necessarily what we are hearing from the news (since those procedures continue to evolve). The toughest part is staying away from extended family, like the grandkids. There’s a temptation to address those short-term needs in ways that may have long-term consequences.
That’s why having some formal decision-making process that forces you to consider the big picture and the long-term outcomes is so critical in an emergency. I have found myself taking the time to question each facet of my life based on responding to new realities. Who do we allow into our homes? Whom do we visit? What precautions should we take when we go into a store?
On the business level, we have to consider customer changes, labor shortages, and delays in vendor and customer distribution. HMI held a webinar on “Effective Decision-Making during Challenging Times.” During the webinar, we dove into the Holistic Management® Decision-Making questions and how they helped people determine if they were going to invest in multi-species pasture cropping or shift their grazing operation to a stocker operation or any number of other options. While this holistic decision-making tool has been helpful in less-stressful times, so many people are saying how helpful it is to have this tool in a time of emergency. For that reason, I want to articulate what this decision-making process does to help you to respond to an emergency or crisis and adapt to new realities.
Holistic Crisis Response & Adaptation Steps
- Keep the Big Picture in Mind (Think Globally, Act Locally)
- Inventory Your Resources (social, economic, natural)
- Manage for What You Want (holistic goal/context, whole farm/ranch goal)
- Consider All Options and Tools
- Determine How Your Actions Impact the Situation now and long-term (testing questions)
- Develop Early Warning Monitoring Criteria
- Repeat Cycle
There’s a great example of this kind of thinking written by Gabe Brown and Shane New titled “Salvaging a Profit in the Current Cattle Market.” In this article, the authors discuss the resources available to a livestock producer who has to consider the current cattle market. They note that you need to look at all your current economic realities including debt and the timing of payments. Are either of those parameters negotiable? They also discuss taking an inventory of current feed so you have a clear sense of the parameters you are facing there. Then they begin to explore options by thinking about the big picture and managing for what they want. In this case, they explore the possibility of using livestock to graze a cover crop as a means to address soil fertility issues and increase the value of the livestock and the crop coming off the land in a depressed market.
In this case, they look at eastern Kansas land rent rates and assume $100/acre for cropland rent. Using what seems to me very conservative pound per acre production and potential weight gain, they calculate that running some calves on the cover crop would result in $59.80/acre in income during a first graze. If you can run those animals again through the cover crop that would be an additional $101.25/acre in revenue for a total of $161.05/acre. They then subtract the $120.24 in direct costs for the cover crop and rent, which results in a net of $40.81/acre by the time mid-June rolls around. They then list a host of any number of other crops that could be grown at that point which would add profitability to the farming enterprise while increasing the resilience of the land through these soil health practices.
This is just one example of many where regenerative agriculture producers are adapting and responding to the challenges they are facing, by using Holistic Management to respond to the current reality rather than just reacting out of fear and panic. We all are very concerned about how this virus is and could potentially affect our loved ones and communities, and we need to keep the big picture in mind as we determine the appropriate course of action. I hope you take the time to step back and remind yourself about what the big picture means to you and how you can adapt within this current situation to survive and thrive by using these steps.
If you need help in taking these steps, I encourage you to check out HMI’s Training Programs, as we are about to start an Online Holistic Management® Financial Planning Course, with scholarships available. For more advanced mentoring support, visit our Next Step page.