Having ownership of the outcome of your work is one thing (skin in the game), but incentive structures are another. How are you rewarded for your work?

In recent discussions with a farmer, he made the comment “I don’t get paid to feed sheep”. It’s true. Businesses only make money on the goods and services they sell. And sometimes they work all year to lose money.

But the cadence of the incentive matters too. Few industries do you work all year to be paid once, after the work is done. This attracts only a certain group of people. People who are not only attracted to the risk, but want to dedicate their year, or careers work, before seeing the rewards.

In 2020, it is common for workers to undertake 5 career changes. Not 5 jobs! 5 complete changes in career.

I went looking for a farmer to interview who can relate to this. The best I could find is 3.

Farmers are people in stable careers. They might not think that. They might think they are uncertain of their financial future during tough times. But the reality is, they are a group of people content with staying with their career path. They are more stable. They move house less than average.

Farmers are, by and large, bigger risk-takers than the average work, yet more stable. These are the people shaping our food systems.