Beef producers are often faced with many production management elements which are not on their daily "To Do List," but can greatly impact their bottom line according to Robert Milligan, Senior Consultant with Dairy Strategies, LLC and a prior faculty member and department head at Cornell University.
Whether it is selecting genetics, analyzing a new health program or developing new marketing techniques for the business, Milligan says producers who thrive during turbulent times are those that are proactive, optimistic and strategic in their goals reports B. Lynn Gordon, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist. Milligan presented these thoughts during the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention in early February.
"We live in exciting but incredibly variable turbulent times. One of the key differences is our focus in agriculture has been on managing the business and that is very important and we have looked at strategy and leadership as something we do once in a year or once a while but in turbulent times we need to it continuously," Milligan said.
Taking a leadership role in business management
He went on to explain the difference between a business that is focused strictly on managing issues, rather than one that is focused on both management and taking a leadership role.

Managers, Milligan explains, tend to focus their attention on managing the cow herd which is important, but leadership he says, is what is needed to be prepared for future issues which can impact the a cow herd or feedlot business.
He emphasized how this role has changed over the years.
"Years ago the focus in an operation, and the key to success, was hard work. Then it time, the leaders of our farms transitioned from a worker to an operations manager, where they made day by day decisions impacting their production enterprise. Today the producers involved in agriculture are not just an operation manager, they now fulfill a role and must think like a Chief Executive Officer," he said.
As a CEO, Milligan says cattle producers need to think about the future of their business each day.
"What I mean by that is they are looking at the external environment, they are saying what is the impact on us so that they can catch opportunities before they become threats. That really does require a very different mindset," he said. "Somebody has to make this a priority. Are you leading in the decision making? Are you taking the lead in establishing a culture and business environment among your family, your partners, your employees, even your trusted advisors? You need to be proactive."
Ag CEO’s
For livestock producers interested in building on the concepts Milligan discusses, becoming a part of the new Ag CEO program developed by SDSU Extension might be a good way to begin Ag CEOs is designed to ensure the next generation of South Dakota agriculture producers is ready for the challenges facing agriculture today.
The Ag CEO program concentrates on understanding how production factors, along with fulfilling a leadership role, is critical to today’s active producers understanding risk management and ability to transition their operation for success.

For more information about the SDSU Extension Ag CEO program, contact your nearest regional extension center.

To learn more about this topic, Lynn Gordon, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, has compiled Milligan’s comments in a podcast. The podcast is available with the electronic copy of this news release at