Episode Description: With milk prices in the $15 per hundredweight range, dairy farmers are making difficult decisions. Derrick and Amanda Sommers of Waseca, Minnesota went through a similar scenario five years ago when they sold the cows and transitioned to a life after dairying. The emotion is still ripe five years later. Derrick and Amanda share tehir story and also highlight the importance of the Minnesota rural mental health specialists, Farm Business Management and their own network of family and friends.
Even during the best of times, farming is a stressful business. TransFARMation highlights the need for conversation and openness around farm stress and mental health. Listen to the series below. It is also available for download on iTunes, Spotify and on your favorite podcast app in the Google Play store.
Published February 24, 2023
Episode Description: From the uncertainties of weather to high input costs, farming and ranching remains a high stress occupation. In this podcast, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring discusses the stress and anxiety found in agriculture today. The triple murder suicide in North Dakota's Towner County hit home for many folks and still having an impact today. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and its Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network provides additional resources. Listen to this edition of the podcast.
Published January 29, 2023
Episode Description: On July 18, 2022, 15-year old Chance Jacobson was out checking fences. While making a left turn off of the highway on his way home, Chance's side-by-side was hit by a minivan. The ATV rolled, resulting in severe injuries. "I have a broken right femur: I have what is called internal degloving where the skin on my right leg was sheared from the muscle. On my left knee, I'm missing my miniscus and a little bone." As a result, Chance spent nearly 40 days in the hospital and went through about a dozen surgeries. "At first, it was just about survival, but as time went on it became more about the mental part when I couldn't go out and do things." Chase's dad, John Jacobson, is also featured in this TransFARMation podcast. "The rural areas are really amazing; we had so many people offering to help with anything and everything." Chance has a tremendous attitude and is focused on his goals. "The last time I was on a horse was the day before the accident and I'd like get back to that. I also want to get this left knee moving so I can clutch and drive the truck this fall."
Published December 23, 2022
Episode Description: Most farmers enjoyed a good harvest and are experiencing decent markets. However, the high cost of crop inputs has cut into the margins on the farm. In addition to financial challenges, farmers and ranchers face unique stressors. In the latest TransFARMation podcast, Becky Kopp Dunham discusses the dynamics facing agriculture today. Kopp Dunham is a therapist with a special focus on issues relating to farm stress. "There are just so many moving parts to a farming and ranching operation. There are a variety of things that impact them financially that are outside of a farmer's control and that's what makes it so difficult." Thanks to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture for your support for this episode.
Published October 31, 2022
Episode Description: Minnesota's Farm Advocate program has been in place since 1984, but many people may not be aware of this important resource. David Hesse, who farms at Comfrey, says Farm Advocates can assist with balance sheets, cash flow projections and participate in the negotiations with the lender. "Everything is up in the air right now, " Hesse told RRFN. "We've got prices like we've not been able to put into a cash flow before and we've got expenses like we've never had before." In addition to high crop input costs, Hesse is concerned about the drought and its impact on the bottomlie for producers. In the TransFARMation podcast, Hesse said it is important to get out ahead of a potential problem. "The sooner you contact us and get us involved, the better it will be."
Published August 5, 2022
Episode Description: Most people would assume the number of calls to a rural mental health specialist would decline when the farm economy is strong. That's not the case. "Even in really good financial times when the commodity prices are up, the phone is still ringing," said Monica McConkey, Minnesota Rural Mental Health Specialist. "That's just an indicator that finances are just one piece of a whole bunch of things that farmers are facing." McConkey said many of the people she works with are dealing with a relationship issue. The stress of farm transition is a common topic. Farming is unique with multiple generations working together. "There's a lot to unpack in farm transitions." McConkey also helps lead a farm suicide loss group and discusses this issue in the TransFarmation podcast. The stressors impacting farm youth are also part of this conversation.
Published July 22, 2022
Episode Description: The milk check has been a roller coaster ride. Record prices this spring have been offset by persistent high production costs. "The margins shrunk," said Mark Sauter, who farms at Cannon Falls, Minnesota. "With today's price, we're floating probably 50 cents either side of breakeven; the feed costs are a big chunk of that." In the TransFARMation podcast, Sauter describes the heavy snows that collapsed the free-stall barn.That was followed by a tornado eight years later. "The 2018 one was a lot tougher to recover from. In September of 2018, a tornado came over the farm and in February of '19,. we had another 100 feet or so of free-stall roof collapse." The tornado unknowingly shifted all of the rafters about six inches from top-to-bottom. "We fought with the insurance company to prove that it was from the tornado. We got that resolved and prices skyrocketed afterwards so we were about 30 percent short of what we needed for settlement costs." Sauter said the herd is now just beginning to come back into full production. Listen to the full podcast.
Published July 8, 2022
Episode Description: Bill Lambert made a split second deciison and it cost him his life on February 7, 2002. While at work in Leonard, North Dakota, Lambert dislodged crusted corn in a grain bin and there was no way to escape once the grain began to flow. "When his site supervisor hears the belt squealing on the auger, he came running to check on Bill and by the time he got there all he could see was the tips of Bill's fingers above the corn," said Dawn Chisholm. Dawn and Bill had three young children at the time.and the entire family was impacted by this tragedy. Dawn, who has since remarried, says this tragedy was overwhelming. "That first year you are in shock, I think you just go into survival mode, but living in a small community, everyone rallies around you." In the TransFARMation podcast, Dawn said we all have those 'if only' moments. "We all do things that we think we can get away with; it may be taking a quick look at our phone, texting and driving." Dawn now lives at Hawley, Minnesota and shares her inspirational story throughout the Midwest. Listen to the full podcast.
Published June 22, 2022
Episode Description: Nearly 75 percent of farmers surveyed said they have been impacted by the opioid epidemic. These pain meds may be in your medicine cabinet or bedstand. "Never did I dream when I started working with Farm Bureau 25 years ago that when was out talking about farm safety and farmer wellness I'd be talking about suicides and addiction," said Ruth Meirick, who leads the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation. "I probably spend the most time in those two areas when discussing farm safety." Addiction to prescribed opioids can start within three days. While it can be a scary topic, Meirick said the discussion about addiction and mental welness should be normalized. "This impacts a lot of people, we need to talk about it." Learn more about the impact of opioid addiction in this edition of TransFARMation.
Published June 8, 2022
Episode Description: Brent Meshke has a unique perspective. He raises lambs, hogs, corn, soybeans and alfalfa on his Lake Crystal farm. For the past two years, Meshke has also been an ag lender for MinnStar Bank. "It definitely helps with the lending business, being able to see both sides of the table." Commodity prices are high, but farm input costs are also escalating. Meshke stress the importance of having an accurate cash flow statement. "The projections often start at the beginning of the year, but it is also good to put sales in the projections even after you meet with the lender. Personally, I like FINPACK and there are some operators that work with Farm Business Management and that's great." Meshke says it is important to know the capabilities of your farm and what it will cost. Listen to the entire conversation with Brent Meshke.