Dear Farmer:

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. Keep the communication open with your lender and suppliers. Continue to build those relationships.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. Consider working with another farmer(s) by sharing equipment and/or labor.
  8. 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.
  9. If you are young, it’s okay to listen to your parents or other farmers. They have wisdom that only time and experiences create.
  10. 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.

Yours truly,

A fellow farmer who cares

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  1. Need to encourage the young farmers not discourage them. Farming is very rewarding daily. Hard work and dedication brings crops of reward to feed our country. Fresh food daily.

    1. I agree with you. But you still have to pay the bills at the end of the day.So we need to keep things real. Fortunately, we know with farming that this is cyclical. We will come out of it.

  2. I’ve been farming full time with my grandfather and my dad , since I was out of high school I be alive around 17,18 was the age I started ,,,, at the age of say 24,25, my dad thaught I should start taking out a loan , and paying my own payroll …,we farm soybeans and rice , every now and again if prices are good we plant sorghum … with my fathers AWSOME help he always helped me pay my loan back at the end of the season .., WASSNT a very large loan but what all he had already own him plus overseeing me too it was large at the time …at the age of 31 I jumped out OWN my own and had 400 acres of my own first year I had 200 rice 200 beans ..I didn’t pay out but got whithin 30,000$ or so well next year had a carryover and everything the same OWN crops next year and the results about the same at the end of the season ,,, well my third year I thaught it was time to make a move OWN sorghum , prices were good think I booked me 50000 bushel at 5.00$ wellgot it planted struggled to get a stand but finnaly did tempeture plunged got cold and stunned my crop , it looked good all year until we stuck a header in it …I think it cut a whopping 30 bussels a acre Which is awful , now I owe Fsa org. Bassicly everything I own ., that year I lost my home that I had put me and my newly wed and baby in .., I lost all my credit ,,,, but the most I lost was my young family , once I went broke my wife wanted a divorce and took my buitiful lil girl with her …it hurts very very bad ,,, and I’m going threw the divorce still now dad is struggling to make inse meat but he comes up with a way to pay me a salery all that he can pay me ,,, and I’m looking to go bankrupt ….. see people when all my peers went off to college to get a degree . I chose to stay here by my family’s side to give them my back , sweat ,blood, tears .,, and people ask why I don’t do somthing else because I love to farm ,,, that’s all I’ve ever done , I know I can do anything but I chose to talk to the old timers at the end of every season since I was 18 , and listin to them tell me they don’t know what farming is coming too , there isn’t any money to be made ,,, and they don’t know what to do ,,, idk the answers but I can tell you THAT IVE LOST EVERYTHING IVE EVER WORKED FOR SINCE IVE BEEN OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL AND I NEVER DREAMED THAT I WOULD BE WEAR IM AT AT THE AGE OF 35

    1. I can’t imagine life without my wife or little girl. I’m very sorry about that. But what you need to do is find some grit my friend. Nut up or shut up. Every farmer knows this life ain’t all rainbows and kittens. Find your drive that made you stay on your farm when you were 18 and refuse to fail. Best of luck. God bless.

  3. My dad 40 years ago said theres no money in farming. He always had to have cattle to pay for what the farming lost, and he always said Iron will Break you the only ones i see making it in farming are the ones that have the GOV.programs figured out and get checks in the mail. Other day i went by the ASC office one of the farmers must been in there figuring out his programs he was driving a new Camaro Yep

  4. I’m loving your blog. My husband and I are hoping in the next year or two to move out to a property with some land to raise and grow some of our own food. You have some great information here for someone who is looking to learn a little more about having a farm.

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