Everyone’s reveling these days in the record feeder and bred-heifer prices, and healthy bull sale averages. And it’s understandable that we should feel pretty good about life at this time.

But one of the folks I consider to be a true marketing machine said something to me today that I found interesting. His point was that while the next several years look to be outstanding from a beef-industry perspective, those who are benefitting are those who have survived some pretty tough times. His logic was that these operators were good in the bad times, so they could be great in the good times.

Sometimes in a commodity business we lose that perspective and somehow feel that the times like we will face in the coming 3-4 years are something akin to just good fortune. Certainly, we all can tell stories about the guy who made $300/head the first time he fed cattle or $600/round on his first try at speculating on bred heifers. But, for the most part, those who are enjoying the record prices of today are those who had the fortitude or wherewithal to survive in some considerably leaner times.

For the most part, those reaping the benefits today paid a price to get here. And as many of you can testify, that price was pretty steep at times.

My friend then followed up with some cautionary advice. He said that when times are good, as they are today, that’s when we’re most vulnerable. That’s because there’s a tendency to coast and not make the necessary investments in the future. I think the analogy he used was that there’s a tendency to read and believe one’s own press clippings.

So while we can be glad about what seems to lie ahead in the short term, be sure to maintain your long-term vision. The good times won’t last forever.