In challenging financial times like these, farmers and business managers alike can sometimes let their emotions dictate their decision-making process. But could doing that have a negative impact in the long run? John Phipps, a commentator with the U.S. Farm Report and regular columnist for Farm Journal, says it certainly can. He told producers at the Corn/Soy Expo in Wisconsin Dells on February 2 that our brains are wired to react to situations in certain ways, and that means it's good to plan ahead when making critical choices that affect a farm operation's bottom line.

"For example, if we are really hungry and our bodies need food, our brain kicks into 'scarcity mode,' which ultimately changes the way we think," Phipps said. "The same is true when it comes to finances. That's why it is important to go from emotional reaction to rational reaction."

He adds that one of the things a producer could do to make better decisions is to practice better forecasting.

"Instead of guessing whether or not corn futures are going to go up or down during a particular month, I would recommend laying out several alternative outcomes and have a response plan for each. That way, you're prepared to handle a variety of different scenarios when the moment comes to react."

He also encouraged managers to utilize smartphone apps and computer software, which are programmed to do a better job of calculating the true cost of production when it comes to growing crops. And he reminded attendees that it's okay to take 15-20 minutes out of the day to just sit back and unwide.

"Some of the best ideas that have ever been conceived came from places like a long car ride or in the shower," he noted. "You may also notice that the optimal time to make good decisions is during the day. Have you ever been to a school board meeting late at night and saw a progressive plan come together?"

Also at the conference, American Soybean Association President Ron Moore of Illinois paid a visit to talk about some of the happenings on the national level. He said 2016 was a productive year for the ASA in several ways.

"The ASA has been striving to work more with state affiliates to provide more resources to local leaders, so they can have a stronger voice when speaking with their own representatives," Moore said. "We were also instrumental in securing passage of the National Biotech Food Labeling Standard in order to prevent a patchwork of state laws dictate food label requirements."

He also said the group has scheduled seven farm bill informational meeting in order to engage producers on what they would like to see in the next federal ag spending package.

And Beaver Dam producer Nancy Kavazanjian spoke on behalf of the United Soybean Board, of which she is a member of the group's executive committee. She reiterated the point that farmers need to keep sustainability in mind in this consumer-driven market.

"The talk of sustainability is something that scares a lot of farmers, but it's something we need to own and take charge of ourselves," she said. "Our customers are demanding it, so it's better for us to be proactive and implement practices that will satisfy their wants while making our businesses more profitable and environmentally responsible."

The Corn/Soy Expo wrapped up with an inspirational message from long-time farm broadcaster Orion Samuelson and a presentation on boosting corn and soybean yields with University of Illinois Professor Fred Below and Researcher Tryston Beyrer. There will also be a panel discussion with Wisconsin ag bankers on the latest trends in the agricultural finance world.

Read more from the Wisconsin Ag Connection.