Nervous about transitioning to regenerative agriculture? Read this first. 

Written by: Brady Drake

Business Banking Officer, VP
Fargo – Urban Plains
2754 Brandt Drive South, Fargo
Phone: 701-281-5600
Email: [email protected]

Any seasoned farmer or rancher knows how much their world has changed in the last few decades. Markets are more volatile. Equipment and treatment prices cost more. Profit margins are slimmer. 

It’s created a perfect storm of debt leverage and consolidation. Family farms and ranches are quickly disappearing instead of passing on to the next generation. 

The good news is there is a growing movement to reverse this trend. More and more producers are focusing on building up their soil health, and thus yields, using natural means rather than expensive chemical treatments. The practice, often referred to as holistic or regenerative agriculture, shows encouraging results for increasing yields while lowering input costs. 

If you’ve wondered about moving towards a more regenerative operation, but have a lot of questions, you’re not alone. Here’s a quick primer to get you started. 

What mindset does a producer need to begin making changes? 

One of the most difficult transitions is to move away from the mindset of simply reacting to financial challenges, and instead concentrate on quality of life, profitability, and sustainability.

This leads to rethinking some of the common wisdom that has developed over the years, such as:

  • Soil is the most important asset of your operation, and will help drive your profits
  • Match your crops/livestock to the soil instead of the other way around.
  • Your operation is unique. What works for your neighbor might not work for you. 
  • What worked historically may not work going forward. Be willing to change. 
  • Choosing goals and working towards them is better than reacting to challenges as they happen. 

How do regenerative producers tackle challenges?

Of course, challenges will come up no matter what kind of producer you are. However, the regenerative approach offers many tools, techniques, and strategies to help handle these challenges. 

If you’re exhausted by the time spent chasing temporary solutions, these tools and techniques will open up opportunities and flexibility to find the root causes and address them there. 

How does this affect food supply and local economies?

Agriculture will always be vital to putting food on the tables of our families across the country. It’s also a foundation for healthy rural families, communities, and economies. Regenerative agriculture brings these into an even sharper focus and helps to reconnect our communities with the nutritious products grown by farmers and ranchers, contributing to a happier and healthier society. 

What are the producer’s biggest concerns?

The fear of change is first on a producer’s mind. Changing how things are done brings the possibility of failure, and potentially losing time, money, and resources. This often underlies the initial resistance to new methods. 

Producers are already stretched and pressured in so many ways that it’s understandable for them to be cautious. Regenerative agriculture has strategic approaches to mitigate many of these pressures. 

How can regenerative methods improve succession rates?

If you focus on only one thing to improve your operation, you’ll likely have a much harder time succeeding. Spending all your time on just crop/livestock production, or just revenue creation, or just conservation, or just lifestyle, will not put you in a position to create a sustainable operation for you and your family.  

Where we see current-generation farmers/ranchers get excited about improving their soil, running more profitably, and having more family time, we also see the next generation take a deeper interest in continuing the family operation. 

What financial products and services can help them ease that transition?

Producers need a financial partner who understands regenerative transition and is willing to learn the new operation alongside them. 

The financial partner can then support the transitioning operation with financial products and services that match the producer’s goals. That’s where Starion Bank excels. 

How Starion Bank can help.

If you have questions about success and aren’t sure where to start, chat with a Starion agribusiness banker. Through our Legacy Agriculture Program, we’ve developed partnerships with organizations that specialize in soil, grazing, grants, succession, and estate planning. 

We’re happy to connect you with experts who can help you understand everything from the smallest first steps to the long-term view and everything in between.

Set up an appointment with a Starion Bank agribusiness banker today.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.