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  4. 1999
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Future of Farming and Ranching: Creating a Vision and Mission and Setting Goals

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The longevity of farm and ranch operations can be determined partially by the manager's ability to develop a farm business plan, implement it, and monitor the outcome. The first step in developing the plan is to list the goals of the business. However, you should first devise the vision and mission statement to provide direction.

A vision is what you would imagine your business to be under the best circumstances, a statement that declares what you expect your business to become. It outlines an attractive future for the farm or ranch and represents a target. The vision should be attainable. An example of a vision statement could be beef produced on the XYZ ranch will represent the protein of choice by American consumers

This vision statement articulates a vision for the ranch and is realistic, credible, and yet attainable. It also represents a condition that is better than the existing situation. Vision statements represent the future.

A mission statement defines an organization and its function, giving the farm or ranch an identity by defining its purpose. It also describes what the farm or ranch will be doing to fulfill the vision. It is a commitment to action. An example mission statement could be XYZ ranch chooses to raise and market fed cattle through a vertically coordinated alliance that responds to the demands of the consumer.

This mission statement defines the type of cattle marketed. It also addresses the need to satisfy the client and identifies the business the ranch is engaged in and the target market. Once the mission statement has been prepared, the goals of the business can be established and should complement and help fulfill the mission.

A goal is an end toward which one directs some specific effort. Goals are written to identify expected results and establish a sense of direction that is necessary for growth and success. Written goals can be reviewed by others who ensure that each element of a goal is included.

Goals serve as a benchmark to measure success and levels of performance. They are influenced by facts (the way things are-something known with certainty), beliefs (what we think is reality), and values (how we think things ought to be). Personal, family, and business goals are created through the interaction of facts, beliefs, and values (figure 1).

Goals can change over time because of an individual's age, financial condition, family status, educational level, beliefs, values, and other factors. Lack of motivation or commitment, changing economic conditions, and inflexibility prevent most people from reaching all their goals. Most goals can be achieved if everybody is involved in creating them.

People who engage in setting meaningful goals (1) suffer less from stress and anxiety, (2) concentrate better, (3) show more confidence, (4) perform better, and (5) are happier with their performance. Other goal-setting benefits include improved teamwork and the ability to shape the future, identify progress, and make informed decisions.

Meaningful goals contain several elements that the acronym SMART stands for: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time/resource constrained. Specific refers to the goal's being detailed and focused. Measurable means the goal is quantifiable. The goal's results must be compared with some standard of performance. Action-oriented relates to bringing the goals to life by using descriptive verbs, such as increase, reduce, expand, and compete, that indicate the results are expected to improve. The realistic element refers to the goal's being practical, possible, or achievable, which will provide motivation and commitment to the stakeholders. Some realistic goals require individuals to exceed their assumed limits. Establishing challenging goals is necessary and brings excitement when they are accomplished. Time and resource constraints refers to deadlines and resource volume limitations. Deadlines encourage completion and foster a sense of urgency. Resource limitations create the need to analyze the benefit and cost relationships of each goal. These SMART elements are an essential part of preparing attainable goals. An example goal that contains all of these elements is to learn about risk management alternatives for beef producers and use one of the risk management tools by December 31, 2000, while spending less than $1,000 for the training.

Individuals are as good as their decisions, which should be based on their vision, mission, and goals. Setting goals will assist in determining your current situation, how you would like it to change, and how to do that. Everybody has 1,440 minutes each day. How will you invest or spend them? Remember, you become successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal and have a well-thought-out plan.