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A letter to every farmer under the age of 35

Dear Young Farmer: 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 i...

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AlinaMD/iStockphoto.com

 

Dear Young Farmer:

 

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. 

 

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Commodity prices have plummeted, corn prices today are between $2 to $3 and soybeans sit between $8 to $9. All are well below the cost of production. These prices have caused even those of us over the age of 35 to take note of what is happening. 

 

As a young farmer, you have not experienced the volatility we are facing right now, but we have. It’s tough and challenging. But the good news? This will pass. From experience I can tell you that the saying “the higher the highs, the lower the lows” rings true. And, as someone who has weathered past storms, I have some suggestions to help get you through these tough times.

  • Know your cost of production. This is nothing new to you. But really know what it costs you to produce that bushel of corn or soybeans. 
  • If you have an opportunity to diversify, do. Diversification has helped our farm tremendously. 
  • Face the reality that you will not be making the same profits you have in the past few years. This doesn't mean you will never make these profits again, it just means it won't happen for a while. You may need to do some things differently. Find ways to become more efficient. 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. 
  • 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.
  • It's okay to listen to your parents or any other farmer that fits that age category. They have wisdom that only time and experiences create.

 
Be patient, you will get through this. In five years, farming will be different than it is today. You may need to make some tough decisions, but in the end, you and your farming business will be better because of it. Take some time for yourself and your family. And always, always remember what is really important in your life, which is your faith, friends and family.

 

Yours truly,

Farmers who understand and have been through this before and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

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Editor's note: Patsche maintains her blog Minnesota Farm Living  and lives in southern Minnesota with her family. She operates a farm and raises corn, soybeans and pigs.

Related Topics: FARMING
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