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Should I continue farming?

By Chris Zoller, Ohio State University Extension Educator, ANR-Tuscarawas County
It’s no secret that all of agriculture is suffering from years of low commodity prices and rising input costs. The economic struggles have affected you financially and physically. You’ve looked at the numbers, met with advisors, and talked to family. The thought of selling part or your entire farm brings with it added worry and concern. What can you do?
Find someone you trust and with whom you feel comfortable discussing your situation. This person may not have many answers to your questions, but they can listen to your frustrations and worries. They may be able to help you sort through the confusion and develop a course of action. Think of your situation as a picture — a set of eyes looking at the picture from the outside may see things you can’t because you are caught up in the picture.
Understand that you are not alone. Nearly every farm and farm family is in a similar situation. Don’t live in the past or dwell on what could or should have been done. Take control of the situation and develop a plan for managing the things you are able to control.

Assessment
Evaluate your financial position by meeting with your lender to discuss options for restructuring debt. Can you extend the repayment terms to provide more cash flow? Contact your Extension Educator about completing a FINPACK analysis (https://farmprofitability.osu.edu/).

What are your specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and timed (SMART) goals? How are your goals similar and different from those of family and/or business partners?
Develop a list of your education, experiences, and skills. How can you use these in another career? What career opportunities fit you best?

Evaluation
If you come to the decision that selling all or part of your farm is the best option, there are several items to address. Begin with a balance sheet and other financial information to understand your present financial situation. Doing so will help you decide how much money (and approximate number of assets) you must sell. You may want to meet with an appraiser, auctioneer, or real estate professional for help determining the expected value of assets.

Professionals
Your attorney can answer questions and advise you about legal considerations related to a sale. An accountant will help minimize your tax liability and give an estimate of what you may expect to pay in taxes.

Help is available
There are people and agencies/organizations that can help with the transition and the emotions that come with the sale. Clergy, licensed counselors, and medical professionals can help you cope. Other sources of help include:
Ohio State University Extension (extension.osu.edu)
National Suicide Prevention (1-800-273-8255)
National Alliance for Mental Illness (1-800-950-6264)
Ohio Workforce Training (ohio.gov/working/training)
Ohio Job & Family Services, Office of Workforce Development (jfs.ohio.gov/owd)

Additional information
Coming to the decision to sell all or a part of your farm is not an easy decision. Find someone with good listening skills. Talk to professionals, reach out for help, get answers, and make the best possible decisions. More information about this subject is available at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-71.

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