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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Freedom to Operate

Featured Article

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Founder & President, Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, LLC
Monsanto L.E.A.D. Network Member

12.4.15 Amy Myrdal MillerI left a full-time job to start Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, LLC in July 2014. After nearly 20 years of working for other people, I finally got the opportunity—and the courage—to start my own company and be my own boss.

(I actually started my first business when I was ten years old. For a few summers I ran what I called The Sunshine Diner. I was the menu developer, waitress, and cook. I hand wrote all of the menus, and I graciously served breakfast to family members from our home kitchen.  Since my food costs were heavily subsidized by my parents, the business was fairly lucrative.)

While running a consulting business isn’t easy, it’s been much better for my health and sanity compared to working for someone else. I like being in charge and making decisions that directly impact my success, income, and lifestyle.

I’m no longer an employee eager to see if my hard work will be rewarded with pay increases and bonuses. I’m now the boss, and I know my hard work will pay off!

I’m also very happy knowing I can pursue work that has both personal and professional meaning for me, including work I’ve done for Monsanto Company that past year. I get to focus on issues that are important to me as a registered dietitian nutritionist as well as to my family members who are farming in North Dakota.

I grew up on a large, diversified family farm in northeast North Dakota. During my childhood in the 1970s and 80s my dad was farming with my brothers. While my dad stuck with growing wheat, barley, and corn for silage for the cow-calf operation, my brothers started “experimenting” with crops like sunflowers, dry edible beans, and canola.

I remember my brothers talking excitedly at the supper table about how diversification and growth were essential for financial health in farming.  While many farmers were going broke due to big loans and high interest rates in the early 1980s, my brothers were bound and determined to not just break even, but to make money so they could reinvest in their farming operation and continue to expand. (Meanwhile, I was running The Sunshine Diner and hoping their financial success would improve their tipping habits.)

One of the reasons my brothers have been so successful is that they have been able to make business decisions based on what is best for them. As global markets evolve and climates change, as crop research is published, and as new seed technology and new equipment become available, they can change how they do business. This is what freedom to operate is all about in modern agriculture; being able to make business decisions that ensure the financial sustainability of a farming operation.

As more and more people share their voice in conversations about our food and agriculture systems, I hope people will recognize farming is a business, and that in order for farmers to be successful, they must have freedom to operate. We need all types of production systems and all types of farmers to ensure an abundant, safe food supply in this world; let’s let farmers choose the production systems, crops, crop inputs, and equipment that make most sense for them.

Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, is an award-winning dietitian, farmer’s daughter, polished public speaker, published author, and president of Farmer’s Daughter® Consulting, LLC, an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm. During her 20-year career, Amy has worked for a global public relations firm, a small clinical research firm, a California-based commodity board, and a world-renowned culinary college. During the past 10 years she has given more than 200 presentations to professional audiences at conferences in the U.S. and abroad. Amy is member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), a past chair of the Academy’s Food & Culinary Professionals (FCP) Practice Group, and a member of the AND Foundation RD Farmer and Agriculture Committee of Experts. She is also president-elect of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Amy has been widely recognized for her nutrition leadership including being selected to give the 53rd Lenna Frances Cooper Memorial Lecture at the AND Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE®) in 2015, and being honored with the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy 2014 Nutrition Impact award.

1 Responses to "Freedom to Operate"

  1. Amy,

    Great points! As so few people have any real touch points with agriculture today, it’s essential that they become educated on all facets of the industry, understanding the complexity of it from seed to consumers’ tables. With your personal and professional experience, I appreciate your willingness to have a voice in this space!

    Perhaps your next business move could be The SunShine Diner!

    Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND


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