make timely decisions that aff ect profi tability. Th e progressive farmland manager is aware of and utilizing these data points to deliver stability and reduce production risk. Th ere are and have always been external risks involved with food production, but if the right tools are utilized at the right time the chances to overcome this risk increase. FARMLAND BUSINESS OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT For managed-money positions in agriculture to be viable, the consistent delivery and communication of benchmarks and fi nancial ratios will be key. As more and more “outside industry money” looks to the inherent stability of farmland assets, the role of the professional farmland manager to rise to the business operation’s expectations is critical to the overall achievement of fi nancial goals. A professional farmland manager will provide the following business operations: • Proven data systems and structure to provide perspective to ownership of where the farm is fi nancially and the poten-tial progress that can be achieved. • Working knowledge coupled with the right accounting and fi nancial systems necessary to raise the level of sophistica-tion and delivery of data and investment return. • Timely inspection and analysis of annual processes put in place to ensure fi nancial solvency. • Industry resources and market knowledge key to make timely directional shifts in approach. • Fair and honest assessment of what can be achieved fi nan-cially under regular conditions. • Annual budgeting and money management from opera-tions to capital improvements. • Proper administration of the financial numbers will help yield desired results. There is no substitute for tried and true financial direction in the management of farmland assets. Amid the demands of capital and the desire to ensure high levels of quality products are yielded from our great land, there is a growing core of professional farmland managers ready to deliver the roots necessary to weather any storm. Th e speed at which we communicate and transact will require a continual increase in the ability to keep pace with the changing landscape. Let us not shy away from hard questions or the opportunity to make and eff ectuate solid plans to preserve the productivity of the land. Tim Cobb is a farmland manager accredited by the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He manages 25+ diff erent crop types across 110,000 irrigated and dry-land acres of land in the Pacifi c Northwest region. Contact him at www.hatleycobb.com, or for more information visit www.asfmra.org. R RENEWING GLASS-STEAGALL WILL NOT MAKE SYSTEM SAFER, SAYS NOREIKA enewing Glass-Steagall or continuing to look for ways to separate banking and commerce even more “will not make the system any safer because mixing the two did not weaken the system in the fi rst place,” in the words of former Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika. Speaking at the Clearing House Annual Conference in New York City Nov. 8, Noreika also suggested mixing banking and commerce can be helpful to banks in smaller communities. Noreika invoked former President Bill Clinton, saying he acknowledged that, “Th ere’s not a single, solitary example that [ending Glass-Steagall] had anything to do with the fi nancial crash. In fact, a study done afterward said that the unifi ed banks were actually slightly less likely to fail than either the commercial banks that overloaded on subprime mortgages, or the investment banks, like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and others.” Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alan Blinder posed the question another way, Noreika noted: “What disasters would have been averted if Glass-Steagall was still on the books?” Would that have prevented poor work by ratings agen-cies, Noreika asked, plus weak mortgage underwriting or the bundling of mortgage-backed securities in ways that hid the underlying risk? Advocates for keeping banking and commerce separate also point to size as a source of inherent risk and suggest current laws have allowed companies to become too big, Noreika pointed out. “As the argument goes, further mixing of banking and com-merce would allow companies to get even bigger, at the expense of smaller community banks,” he said. “Economists like Joseph Stiglitz point out that the biggest banks went from controlling 15 percent of banking assets before Gramm-Leach-Bliley to controlling 65 percent by 2008. So, of course, that must be the cause of the crisis.” Critics point out that the law allowed mega mergers like JPMorgan and Chase Manhattan in 2000, Noreika acknowl-edged, but it also allowed Bank of America to help contain the economic meltdown by buying Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. “Deals like those would not have been possible before 1999,” he argued. Th e danger is not the size of the banks, it’s the concentration, in Noreika’s view. “Th e solution to concentration is not further isolation and protectionism, but diversity and healthy competi-tion,” he said. “Laws that prevent companies with resources and means from becoming competitor banks only serve to protect existing big banks from would-be rivals. It has the perverse eff ect of maintaining the concentration in the big banks that exists today.” In smaller communities, Noreika argued, fewer restrictions against mixing banking and commerce could allow for greater use of local capital and support growth and business activ-ity locally. “It could help smaller community banks grow and take advantage of benefi ts previously only available to grand-fathered companies and banks that are big and sophisticated enough to convince the Federal Reserve to grant them an exception,” he said.