By Rochelle Krusemark
P&E Committee Member
The ice is off the lakes, robins are building nests, and buds are producing leaves on the trees. Urban dwellers may say it is spring, but in rural communities, April and May is planting season. I love spring sunshine and flower blossoms, but there is gloom and doom drifting in the air about the farm economy.
Farm technology continues to improve production efficiency, yet we are experiencing challenging financial times. Commodity prices continue to fall from historic highs a couple years ago and input costs have not declined proportionally, as economists and bankers confirm that farmers’ cash flow projections are drafted with red ink.
I reflect on the farm crisis of the 1980s, and with cautious optimism, realize some benefits of survival are that farmers became better financial and agronomic managers. During the 1980s, the combination of low commodity prices and overwhelming debt (and paying 18 percent interest) forced thousands of farm families out of business. The challenges also taught us about a global market, exchange rates, inflation and debt-to-asset ratios. Farmers were probably aware of these issues, but may not have realized that the world stage could put GOOD FARMERS out of business. I witnessed and heard too many sad stories of farm auctions, and of farmers taking their own lives. Farmers are proud folks and have much wisdom to share.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Financial challenges cause stress and sometimes depression. Take care of yourself, talk to friends and family about mental health conditions. Become aware of and identify symptoms for mental health conditions that you or loved ones may be experiencing.
The Minnesota Extension website www.extension.umn.edu is a helpful resource for healthy
living with articles on getting through tough times and controlling stress.
Learn the ins and outs of grain marketing in a cost-free and risk-free environment –
Center for Farm Financial Management - University of Minnesota Extension conducts several marketing groups across the state at www.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/business.
Celebrate life and enjoy a safe planting season!