By their very nature, our farmers are efficient. When it comes to the concept of efficiency on the farm or ranch, a multitude of things may come to mind. It could be that new diesel one-ton truck or a four-wheel drive tractor. However, there are many examples where efficiency should be considered. 

First, let’s define efficiency. Wikipedia defines efficiency as “the (often measurable) ability to avoid wasting materials, energy, effort, money and time in doing something or producing a desired result.” I love Webster Dictionary’s Kids Definition of Efficiency: “The ability to do something or produce something without waste.” I’m not sure I’ve been my most efficient during the past “Covid Year.”

Here are just a few examples of efficiency of importance to our producers:

A cow/calf producer may focus on efficiency through their cow herd. An efficient momma cow will utilize grass and forage to produce a healthy calf each year. A larger cow will consume more forage yet may produce a larger calf. A smaller breed animal will likely offer a smaller calf while consuming less forage. The relative efficiency for a given producer may relate to what size farm he/she has in terms of available pasture or facilities.

Cattle producers, whether beef or dairy, are looking to produce the highest possible weight or milk relative to the inputs needed to market their products. 

A poultry producer is looking to convert their feed to bird pounds or numbers of eggs. They use energy (gas and electricity), plus feed and water to provide the end product. A key measurement of a broiler or hen’s efficiency is through their feed efficiency. 

A crop producer is focused on many inputs to gain maximum efficiency throughout the production cycle. Timing, seed selection, fertilizer and chemical usage, machinery and uses of technology all come into play.

One way to measure efficiency is via an efficiency ratio. This indicates expenses as a percentage of revenue. Essentially, this is how much an individual spends to make a dollar. The lower the ratio, the more efficient the result. 

Of paramount importance when considering efficiencies in our world, American farmers, ranchers and producers are the epitome of efficiency. Their very way of life dictates that they operate as efficiently as possible. They combine their inputs, resources, time, energy and technology to result in high-quality food and fiber for the rest of us to use and enjoy. 

Our ag producers set an excellent example of how to maximize the use of resources to gain maximum benefit. They do this while being excellent stewards of the land and our environment.

I salute our farmers and ranchers as being the understated leaders in rural America. They are freedom-loving citizens, often taken for granted and under appreciated by far too many. They generally maintain a low profile yet are integral to our rural society. 

We utilize the results and the efficiency of our farmers, ranchers and producers’ effort every day. Think a great steak dinner or that warm wool sweater. Wow, I’m getting hungry again.

Ken W. Knies is an agricultural and rural consultant. He holds a bachelor’s of science and arts from the University of Arkansas and a master’s of business administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. He formed Ag Strategies, LLC as a business unit focused on quality borrowers and lenders.


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