Let’s talk about stress and farming. Farming is an honorable occupation, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is a profession overflowing with risk, hard work, and great rewards. Right now, the risk involved with farming is wearing our patience thin. If there is anything that is constant with farming, it is volatility. Volatility means liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse. And, it’s the worst part that is affecting us now. Most people would never be able to handle the volatility farmers experience, but, we are tough and we will persevere and we will be better.
Commodity prices have plummeted, corn prices today are hovering around $3 and soybeans a little over $8. All are well below the cost of production. These prices have caused even the most seasoned farmers to take note. So what can farmers do? Here are a few suggestions:
- Know your cost of production. Really know what it costs you to produce that bushel of corn or soybeans. Take a little extra time to make sure you understand your true cost or production.
- If you have an opportunity to diversify, do. Diversification has helped our farm tremendously. Also, if you have an opportunity to expand into a different income stream, now may be the time. Maybe do some off-farm part-time work. Maybe some truck driving. Be creative. It’s okay to do this. No one will judge you.
- Find ways to become more efficient. Find different ways to do things. It may mean planting different varieties of seed that are lower in cost. Dissect your farm and find ways to cut costs. In the end, it’s times like these that will make you a better farmer.
- Keep the communication open with your lender and suppliers. Continue to build those relationships.
- Keep your friends and family close. Do not isolate yourself. Talk to other farmers. Learn what they are doing to get through these times. Listen and offer encouragement to other farmers and do what is best for you and your farm. Work and help each other.
- Have a watchful eye and look for red flags. If someone is not acting quite right, reach out to them and be persistent. Help is available. Minnesota helpline 800-600-2670
- Consider working with another farmer(s) by sharing equipment and/or labor.
- Sign up for a marketing class. Take this time to educate yourself in ways that will benefit you in the future. Again, this will make you a better farmer.
- If you are young, it’s okay to listen to your parents or other farmers. They have wisdom that only time and experiences create.
- Remind yourself often what is most important. Keep it all in perspective. If things go in a different direction than what you want, you have not failed. Life is not always fair. Be resilient and persevere. Do your best. And always, always remember what is really important in your life, which is your faith, friends, and family.
A fellow farmer who cares