Crop Insurance Today May 2012 - (Page 19)

TODAYcrop insurance Pessimists Need Not Apply By Dave Ray, North Bridge Communications Farming: “If you’re not a risk taker with an incredibly optimistic view of life and a deep belief in your own potential as a businessman, then you better not think about wanting to become a farmer,” says Russ Mauch, past president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. Mauch is a second-generation farmer who grew up on a farm in Mooreton, North Dakota, with his five sisters and two brothers. He has fond memories of his early life on the farm, where, with his dad and two brothers, they ran a fed cattle operation. “Growing up on a family farm was a great experience that instilled a great deal of self confidence in me, as well as a positive view of my potential,” he says. 1973, however, was a watershed year in his life as they switched their farm over to sugarbeets and joined the newly formed farmer cooperative. “That kicked us out of the livestock business and put us into the full time sugarbeet business,” he says with a smile. Mauch says that when you become a sugarbeet farmer, there just isn’t enough time in the day for a cattle operation on the side. “Sugarbeets require a heck of a lot of extra time and effort and we just didn’t have enough time to devote to both,” he said. He explained that a sugarbeet operation is a year-round venture, which entails planting in the early spring, tending to the fields during the growing season, and harvesting just prior to the first hard freeze. After the beets are harvested, most of them are placed in huge piles and allowed to freeze solid for the duration of the winter. If luck is on your side, the winter will Russ Mauch remain cold and the beets will stay frozen. They are removed from the piles during the winter and shipped to the processing plants, where they are refined into sugar. By the time this process is over, it’s nearly spring and time to start plating again. After finishing college in 1978, Mauch had the opportunity of a lifetime to see agriculture from the other side.... of the iron curtain that is, in Eastern Europe. Mauch joined a number of other young American agricultural professionals and set out for an agricultural exchange program that would place him on a farm in Hungary, well before the end of the Cold War. He noted that the most shocking aspect of the experience was not the fact that most of the country’s production took place on collective farms instead of familyowned, private operations, but that the country was technologically behind the U.S. by 20-30 years. “Hungary was the most advanced nation behind the iron curtain,” he said. “But they were still well behind the times.” Mauch returned home after his experience abroad and left the family farm in 1978 for a banking position as an agriculture loan officer at the First Bank Corporation in Valley City, ND. “It was during my time as a banker, working directly with farmers, that I got my first 30,000 foot view of farming,” he said. “Being on the outside of farming and looking in gives a fellow a unique perspective.” “As a banker, I was dealing directly with lots of farmers who came from a wide variety of operations, and it became clear what some of the deciding factors were in how successful a farmer might be,” he said. Mauch said that for the most part, farmers were all the same. They all had a terrific work ethic, they all spent lots and lots of hours in their fields and they all had to deal with the same gamut of risks. “I witnessed, first hand, that the difference between a mediocre farmer and a very successful farmer is his or her ability to market their commodities.” “I witnessed, first hand, that the difference between a mediocre farmer and a very successful farmer is his or her ability to market their commodities,” he said. “There was only a handful of things that set people apart and marketing was one of the most important ones,” he said. He explained that farmers who learned CROP INSURANCE TODAY® 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Crop Insurance Today May 2012

Commitment to Excellence
2011 Year in Review
Farming: Pessimists Need Not Apply
Leadership: NCIS Regional/State Crop Insurance Committees
NCIS Board of Directors
Insect Resistance to Bt: Is it a new threat to crop production?
Another Successful Convention
Adam Vetter Given Outstanding Service Award
Pat Flanagan Given Industry Leadership Award
Step 6-Identifying and Evaluating Alternatives: What alternatives are feasible for the future?
In Memory of John F. Ames

Crop Insurance Today May 2012