Getting through the hard times
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The past year was a challenge as farmers have had to continue to make production and marketing decisions in the turbulence of an economic crisis that burst into view in the last half of 2008 and damaged or destroyed a number o...
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The past year was a challenge as farmers have had to continue to make production and marketing decisions in the turbulence of an economic crisis that burst into view in the last half of 2008 and damaged or destroyed a number of pillars of the U.S. economy. By the first part of 2009, what had been a domestic economic crisis created repercussions in economies around the world.
While farmland has maintained, its value relative to other sections of the real estate market, farmers who have diversified their holdings to include stocks have seen their net worth fall.
The crop prices that seemed like they were on an ever-rising elevator in mid-2008 have remained well below their peak during the last 12 months. Still, they are well above the prices of the last 10 years.
While higher prices have been a boon to crop farmers, they have been devastating to a livestock sector faced with higher feed costs and lower demand resulting from factors that include reduced consumer spending, H1N1 flu and changes in export levels. The result is a flood of red ink that stretches from dairy operations in California, to feedlots in Colorado, to poultry operations in Arkansas, to hog operations in North Carolina. Yes, it has been a challenging year.
But despite the challenges, we have a lot to be thankful for: family, neighbors and friends. Though none of us wish for hard times, they have caused us to sit back and re-evaluate our priorities and to treasure those who are so important in our lives.
Editor's Note: Ray is director of the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Policy Analysis Center in Knoxville.