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Whenever I talk with producers about stress, the conversation inevitably turns to money. Finances on the farm are some of the biggest stressors for producers—the uncertainty of input costs, commodity prices, farm loan rates, labor costs—it can feel like juggling blindfolded.

I’ve been talking a lot about how to manage farm stress, and all the stress-management skills we’ve covered are important. One really big way to manage stress on the farm is to manage financial risk on the farm. Being financially resilient is important, just like being physically and emotionally resilient.

How do we become financially resilient? Winning the lottery would help—but isn’t exactly a likely event. So we have to be strategic, think long-term, and honestly assess the farm’s financial ability to respond to shocks and unexpected events.

For most of us, this means learning more about strategy, risk, and sources of guidance and information. Locally, this could mean talking with your FSA loan officer, just to find out what kinds of loans and programs might be available to help your farm, or checking out what you qualify for using the USDA Farm Loan Assistance Tool.

Local Extension agents as well as Extension Specialists also have decision tools and forecasts that can help you with projections, strategy building, and risk management. The 2024 Inputs and Production Expenditures Forecast is just one example of many of the tools Extension provides.

There are also national sites that provide training in this area. The Purdue Center for Commercial Ag has great resources you can find here .  They recently had a session called “Positioning Your Farm for Long-Term Success” where they discuss the strategic risks farm operations face and how farmers might go about managing those risks. It’s an excellent way to start thinking about your operations’ ability to weather strategic risks—check it out here.    

Looking at many of these resources only takes a few minutes, and can really be worth the time investment.

The more we can learn about managing risks and being financially strategic, the better we can juggle all the elements of our finances, the more we feel in control, and the lower our stress becomes. Learning more is like taking off the blindfold—you’re still juggling, but it’s a lot easier.

I hope you’ll check out some of these resources and get a few ideas for managing financial risk. It should help you manage your stress and keep thriving on the farm.

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