7 Questions with Johnny Wood

Jul 21, 2017

Johnny Wood answers questions about his perspective on regenerative agriculture and it's role for our future. Johnny also gives us a sneak peak at what he will be talking about at this year's Grassfed Exchange Conference.

1. What do you see as the potential impact of regenerative grassland agriculture? 

Regenerative grassland agriculture regenerates the landscape, the water cycle, the food we eat, our health and the community as a whole. Regenerative agriculture allows small scale operations and young producers to have their own viable piece of the market without the large capital investments as commercial agriculture.

The more young and small producers an area can attract and hold on to does nothing but benefit the overall strength of the community. 

2. What do you believe are the big strategies and behaviors required to move us toward this? 

We must continue to constantly educate ourselves with the knowledge that is available to all of us in this industry. Everyone involved in the grass based industry must move forward in implementing what we have learned through our mistakes and success stories and those of others.

We have to openly share these systems and strategies in the most applicable ways each of us have. Be open. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches. 

3. What brought you to this point? Was there a defining beliefs or experience that sparked a change? 

My family was actively involved in a commercial ag operation for the first ten years of my life. I have been actively involved in the regenerative culture from age ten and on after my dad made the switch from commercial to regenerative.

However I am friends with far more producers in my home area that are very strong supporters of commercial ag than regenerative. This is mainly due to the fact that there aren’t many regenerative producers in my area.

 This gives me a side by side comparison of both systems. Combine this with greatly increasing my attendance in grazing schools, conferences and seminars over the last 3 years and I have had several defining moments that have shown me why I am a true supporter of regenerative ag.

4. Where or to whom do you look for guidance and inspiration?

I look to the leaders of the regenerative industry for motivation. Most specifically, I look to the leaders who are active producers in the industry. Their fortitude is the guidance and inspiration to push myself to make it to their level of production.  

5. What is an important lesson you learned from a mistake?

Every mistake I have made, teaches a specific lesson. I prefer to make mistakes daily, I learn much better from mistakes than when things go right. Mistakes are also a measure of how open minded you are. If you aren’t making at least one mistake a week you aren’t trying enough new things.

The most important lesson I have learned from any mistake is never quit. The moment you let a mistake defeat you, you are setting yourself up for repeated failure.

6. What do you think is the most important first step someone in your field can take to move in the right direction?

I would recommend anybody who has the desire to get started in regenerative agriculture (or any agricultural field) to do your own homework. Preparation is key and this is an area that can’t be skipped to start a new type of operation.

Running numbers and putting together costs and revenue numbers together isn’t enough. Hard data must be gathered from producers and end users. There are aspects that you won’t know no matter how much you plan until you physically have the crops or livestock in progress. This is why preparation is key, it’s too costly to reinvent the wheel when it comes to problems that other producers have already found the answers to.

7. What will be the # 1 take home message from people listening to you speak? 

My main message is once you have committed to starting into this field don’t give up and don’t take yourself too serious. It won’t be easy and there will be times, sometimes daily, where you will want to quit, but don’t.

Failure is an abused word. Success or failure is all a matter of how you look at it. I haven’t had one “failure” that I regret, as everyone has taught me something valuable.

I learn and most importantly, remember what not to do from things that have gone wrong than things that have gone right.

If anybody is going to go into the goat business just know you are going to have more situations come up that will need addressed than you thought possible. Deal with it and move on. Always keep moving forward it does pay off.

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