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Reflections on Troubled Times

Posted Nov. 1, 1998

I've spent considerable time this summer visiting with cooperators. Partly it was to assess how they were doing; partly it was to determine how we were doing delivering our services and to see how we might improve. I couldn't have picked a more difficult time for those I visited. They were all in the depth of the drought trying to sort through their options and choose a course that would get them to the point when rain and forage are more abundant.

I was most impressed by the positive attitudes of people who had plenty of reason to grumble. Everyone with whom I visited was confident that they were going to come through the drought and low cattle prices and thrive when things got better. Time after time, I was left with the impression that our staff had a lot to do with the fact that they had a plan in place. The fact that they had a plan in place helped them see their situation more optimistically.

Over the last few years, I've come to realize the importance that cooperators place on our advice, especially when we help people establish goals or develop plans and strategies. I've watched our specialists work with people and help them realize that there is usually more than one option in solving a problem. The realization that you can plan through the worst possible situation is a confidence builder for many people.

What I saw this summer was a result of that realization and the confidence that producers have acquired. I give our staff great credit for helping cooperators develop that confidence. Those are the strengths of a program that we'll continue to share with you.

Since my visits, grasshoppers and armyworms have added to the problem for most. Lack of moisture to establish winter pasture is affecting calf prices and attitudes both on the down side. There are few opportunities available right now, so optimism is getting a little harder to find. Just remember, even in the worst of times, having a plan is better than the alternative even if you don't need to act on it. Give us a call if you need help developing your options.

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