February 2, 2018
By Ed Byrne
The Brillion News
Part 1 of a 2 part series
The state of Wisconsin’s dairy industry is fragile now. There is a glut of milk, and that’s depressing the market, putting a lot of dairy farmers under financial stress.
In a half-day seminar on January 24, the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Protection focused on financial stress in farming, and mental health issues that result from it.
The presentation – “Supporting Farmers During Challenging Times” – brought in experts from the DATCP Farm Center Outreach program and the UW Extension safety engineering and agricultural health program.
This week, we look at financial realities affecting the state’s dairy producers; next week, we look at the pressure it puts on mental health and emotional wellness.
It is serious business. Agriculture has a higher suicide rate than any other profession.
The DATCP Farm Center’s slogan is “Helping Hands: Guiding Farm Families Through Challenging Times,” and they mean financially-challenging times.
The Farm Center’s Becky Paris gave a list of green flags – things that farmers should do to get a step ahead of financial problems.
• Light a fire under yourself by networking with other successful farmers.
• Communicate with your lender(s).
• Keep good, accurate, detailed financial records
• Review your financial situation annually, or even more frequently.
• Surround yourself with professionals and take their advice.
• Understand and respect debt, paying it off early when possible.
• Use legal tax reduction strategies (tax avoidance is legal; tax evasion is not).
• Set business and personal goals and prioritize them.
• Plan for major changes (kids going to college, loss of employees, your retirement, sale/transfer of your farm).
• Manage your risk with planning and insurance coverage.
• Have a transition plan (for retirement) and have a will.
Please see the complete story in the February 1, 2018 edition of The Brillion News.
In next week’s conclusion to this two-part series, we look at how financial stress becomes emotional stress – and how some farmers have lost more than their farm.