Thursday, October 2, 2014

Are Farmers Rich?

Here is a good article Phillip Kleinhenz put on his Facebook page.  Are farmers rich?

To the average non-farmer, I suppose farmers look like they rich.  Money is just a tool to do your job and it takes lots of money to farm.  The love of money is the evil thing, not the money itself.  It's a tool to do good or bad, just like the Internet and so many things are.

I have been guilty of saying I didn't want to yell at kids for a living, I just wanted to farm.  I was raised to be anything but a farmer, though I learned all the things I needed to farm except the courage to actually make that happen.  It takes great courage and a great business sense to borrow a sum of money, make more than you borrowed and pay it back.

I was taught to fear borrowing money and live on nothing while starting the business.  I was taught how to learn and share that ability within a person's ability to learn and progress.  It took me five years to learn how to teach others in a classroom setting but it has taken my entire life to learn how to borrow a large sum of money and make enough to live on while paying it back.  It's no easy task.

Farming has always been a low margin return, 5% at best.  It is difficult to grow a farming business with those kinds of returns.  Over a lifetime of farming there are great years and terrible years but a teacher's pay is pretty stable.  I chose stability over risk and that is why I am where I am today.

A few families encourage their children to follow their path but they must have the passion to do it.  I had the passion, I didn't have the courage to take the risks while raising a family.  I admire those who have and am blessed to have what I have after 64 years.

Helping a child find their passion and a career that utilizes that passion is the hardest thing a parent or teacher will ever do.  At least it was that way for me.  It is obvious some children should farm but there isn't room for many.  It's still a low margin return.  Many farm all their lives and end up with a little more than they started with.  "Asset rich and cash poor" describes many farms and businesses.

The full time farmers I know look rich but I don't know their balance sheet.  Farms are the healthiest now in US history but a few really succeed and many still fail.

Do you have what it takes to be a full time farmer?  Very few people do.  Are farmers rich?  No, I think they are just farmers but it is a very valuable profession to the rest of us who don't farm for all their income.

The view out my window is very rich.  My balance sheet is good but says something else.

Ed Winkle

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