Dick Wittman is board chair and former manager of a 20,000-acre dry land crop, range cattle and timber operation in northern Idaho. Management of the farm has transitioned to a partnership of four other family partners. He also provides private consulting to farm, ranch and agricultural support businesses.
After receiving a degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Idaho and an MBA from the University of Utah, Wittman worked for the Farm Credit System from 1972-1980. His banking career concluded with the Farm Credit Administration in Washington, D. C., where he supervised Farm Credit operations in several Eastern, mid‑West, and Southern US districts.
In 1980 he joined the family farm in Idaho and established a private consulting practice. Wittman has worked with numerous farm clients and professional practitioners, conducted seminars, facilitated strategic planning, taught college classes and developed videotape training modules on a variety of topics throughout the U. S., Canada, and Australia. He specializes in financial management, process improvement, developing management systems, business succession planning and conflict resolution. In recent years he has focused on train-the-trainer workshops to expand the international resource base of consultants who can assist family businesses in agricultural finance and transition issues. In January 2004, he published Building Effective Farm Management Systems, a guidebook designed to help commercial-size family farm businesses put in place professional governance and transition processes. A companion video was produced of his flagship workshop on Family Business Management Proficiency in 2011.
Wittman has served on several industry, community and bank boards, and lobbied on numerous farm policy issues serving on the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council (5-yrs as president), University of Idaho Ag Consulting Council, Inland Empire Pea Growers Cooperative, Twin River National Bank (1982-89), and Advisory Council for the UI Ag Economics and Rural Sociology Department. He is a founding director and past president of the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association and has served since 2007 on a national farm advisory group for Environment Defense Fund focusing on climate change and sustainability.
In 1996 he became a director and in 2006 served as president of the Farm Financial Standards Council, a group of farm management and financial experts who have been working for 40 years to professionalize farm accounting and financial analysis processes. The council released national guidelines for Managerial Accounting in 2006 with a focus on accurately determining cost of production. Wittman is a nationally recognized educator on this topic.
Wittman has served on the faculty for the TEPAP Ag Executive Program in Austin, Texas since 2003, and is an adjunct faculty member of Texas A&M University. He is also a founding member of familybusiness.ag, a peer group of consulting professionals promoting excellence and integrity and empowering continuity in the agricultural family business consulting profession. In 2014 he joined the Board of Advisors for the Farm Journal Legacy Institute and also serves on the FarmHouse Fraternity National Foundation Board of Trustees.
Stewardship has been a Wittman Family Farm tradition. The farm was selected as the national Millennium Farm Family in 2000 by the Ag Earth Partnership. Wittman received the 2002 Governor’s Award for Excellence in Agriculture in Environmental Stewardship. The Wittman Family sponsors an Outdoor Education Camp located on their farm in cooperation with the local Boys and Girls Club. Begun in 1986, this camp gives hundreds of students, teachers and natural resource professionals annually an exposure to key natural resource concepts, and it enables the farm to share its vision on how a farm can be managed, shared, and kept sustainable for future generations.
Wittman and his wife, Dawn, have raised five children.
I am a firm believer in the preservation of the family farm as the preferred entity to manage and steward our food production industry. This belief has been a primary driver in motivating me to help family farmers adopt more professional management practices. Many struggling farmers are quick to blame government interference, low prices, uncooperative lenders, foreign subsidies or greedy and indiscreet neighbors for all their problems. In fact, much of the blame in their failure to achieve full potential rests with their management system and practices. Improved performance, teamwork, and quality of life is easily attainable if one develops a clear vision of how to incorporate improved management practices and invest in the effort to change. God helps those who help themselves.
Some perceive that greater focus on professional business principles will erase the spirit of the family farm or turn it into a Ford Motor Company, Cargill, or Archer Daniels Midland. I firmly believe that promoting professional management systems and maintaining a strong family and community focus are complementary strategies, not conflicting targets. Preferring to work together as family should not be an excuse to ignore business principles, but an added reason to follow them. The hurt and long term damage to relationships is often much harder to swallow when family business relationships disintegrate than when ventures between unrelated parties fall to pieces.
Cori Wittman Stitt is General Manager and partner in Wittman Farms, a diversified crop, cattle and timber family business in Northern Idaho, and is an associate with Wittman Consulting providing consulting services to family farm businesses. She is a graduate of University of Idaho (BS Business, BA Spanish, minor in Ag Economics) and holds a Master of Agribusiness from Kansas State University.
Following her undergraduate studies, Cori spent six years working in the agricultural policy arena of Washington, DC. There she gained experience working with farmer and industry associations, working groups and federal administrative and regulatory agencies.
She managed international Biotechnology Education programs for the U.S. Grains Council from 2004-06 and was Director of Regulatory Relations focusing on biotechnology and trade policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation in 2006-07. She served as Legislative Assistant for former Senator Larry Craig in 2007-08, advising the Senator on agriculture, trade and transportation policy through the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill. Following the Senator’s retirement, she served as Director of Government Affairs for the National Association of Wheat Growers. In 2010 she moved overseas to start and direct Breakthrough Thailand, a trafficking prevention and youth development non-profit program in rural Thailand.
Cori returned to a primary role in the family farm in 2015 – managing the operation’s human resource, finance and marketing functions. She continues to share her time between the farm, consulting and international development, and serves as a board member for the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lewis-Clark Valley.
She and her husband David welcomed their first child in 2020.