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This Too Shall Pass

“It’s hard to be positive when you’re doing something for nothing.”

Folks, let’s be honest here, this sucks. There’s no point in even trying to sugarcoat this situation because there’s not enough sugar in the entire world to even begin to cover it (mainly because all the sugar has been used in everyone’s quarantine baking). Every which way you look at it, it’s not a pretty picture.

Coming from a grain farm, I feel the only thing I’m actually qualified to give my opinion on is corn and soybeans, but I think it’s pretty clear that the entire industry is currently falling apart. We’ve got dairy farmers dumping milk, hog producers desperately trying to find a place for their animals in order to avoid euthanizing them, corn below three dollars, and piles of rotting vegetables with nowhere to go.

When I was an agronomist in Michigan back in 2016, I can remember talking with my customers about how that year just had to be the bottom of the cycle and that things had nowhere to go but up after that growing season was over. When I moved back to Indiana and was working as an account manager selling seed, I can remember talking with my customers every year about how this time it really was going to be the bottom of the cycle because how could it possibly get any worse? When I came back to the farm to work for my dad in 2019…….well, I think we all know how 2019 went. Seriously, how could anything be worse than 2019?! Yet, here we are.

2020 was supposed to be great. We all made it through 2019, and the light at the end of the tunnel was 2020. This was supposed to be the year things got better, but so far it just feels like getting kicked while you’re already down.

Now, I know it sounds like I’m being a total negative Nellie here (which I am a little bit), and I understand the importance of keeping a positive attitude, but I also think it’s important to acknowledge when things aren’t going the greatest. I mean, it’s always the ones who constantly have a smile plastered on their face who snap and go on a killing spree. In all seriousness though, sometimes it’s the folks who are always positive and lifting others up who are struggling the most.

It’s heartbreaking to know that there are going to be family farms that made it through the drought of 2012 and the eighties and shoot, even the Great Depression that aren’t going to make it through this. It’s heartbreaking to see pictures of the aftermath of farmers having to make one of the hardest decisions of their careers to euthanize their animals. It’s heartbreaking to see the effect this situation has on your own family members who aren’t even excited to put a crop in the ground this year knowing that unless things turn around, we’re growing it for a loss.

Things will eventually turn around (they always do, don’t they?), and we’ll see that uptick in the cycle we’ve all been praying for and waiting on for the last five years. Until then though, know that it’s okay to be a negative Ned or Nellie for a hot second as long as you don’t live your entire life that way. Sometimes it’s harder on your mental health to force yourself to constantly be positive and keep a smile on your face than to simply let yourself be frustrated for a little bit or to talk to someone about how you’re feeling.

Some of your neighbors, friends, and family are going through a very dark time right now with little to no light at the end of the tunnel. And while we are all anxious for the day this all becomes a memory or a seasoned story we tell our children and grandchildren at the local diner sitting less than six feet apart, we have to be sure to take time right now to check in on each other. It’s hard to find anyone in the ag community whose livelihood, mental health, and even faith aren’t being shaken by this pandemic and the problems it’s created. We are hurting as an industry, as a community, as a family.

Know that you’re not alone in this and that people everywhere are praying for you, your family, and your farm. If I had to choose only one word that best described farmers and ranchers, it would be resilient. My God, are the folks raising this country’s crops and livestock resilient. We’ve made it through hard times before, and we’ll not only make it through this, but we’ll come out stronger on the other side; we just need to have a little faith that God’s got this under control.

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.” Romans 12:12

 

*Special thanks to Claire Larson for editing help

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