March 2011 Newsletter

By Karl Kupers on March 16, 2011

As farmers we fall in love with (or not) and respect Mother Nature especially when you are a dryland producer. One thing that you quickly learn is it can have some powerful forces and we just witnessed one in Japan. The impacts of this type of catastrophe are unimaginable to those involved and can be far reaching. We, too, are experiencing some of that today as the investment markets as well as the commodity markets are not confident in their future.

This is and was to me the most difficult part of farming, the negative impacts of Mother Nature and in this case the market fallout. So many times it would kick you in the teeth by completely countering your choice of work based on your expected environmental outcome. Then if that was not enough, you get a huge drop in the price of your commodity based on something you have absolutely no control over. It is that 30 years of negative experiences that formed many of the policies within Shepherd’s Grain. The use of direct seeding reduces the negative impacts Mother Nature can throw at you and in part because you are farming more in harmony with nature. The elimination of loosening the top soil and adding the practice of protecting the valuable microbial population creates a soil profile and soil health that can withstand environmental harshness from nature. Combining that with the pricing strategy of a transparent cost plus model reduces the impact of the global commodity market so that these situations have much less impact on the producer and the buyer.

On a positive note, we continue to see society seek knowledge of where their food comes from, to seek safety in more regional food production, and be knowledgeable about the relation of nutrition and health. Shepherd’s Grain continues to invest in research to both qualify and eventually quantify nutritional density in the grains we produce. We have many new accounts utilizing Shepherd’s Grain flour in their baking. You can check out our Facebook page as well as follow the twitter page to see some of these new customers. We are also adding additional producers to our family to deal with increased demand and the expansion of our product lines.

One last note and this may seem a bit of a stretch coming from a couple farmers but if you can download the Harvard Business Review January-February 2011 issue, read the article titled “The Big Idea”. It talks about Creating Shared Value—How to reinvent capitalism and unleash a wave of innovation and growth. I think it is an interesting view and I believe we are well within that mindset of a shared food value chain that seeks innovation and creativity to ensure that a safe, stable and sustainable food supply is available to our regional community.

As always we thank you for your support of Shepherd’s Grain, our producers, their families and our values.