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."
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 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.
Published May 25, 2022
Episode Description: After a life in the city and suburbs, Theresa and Jake Bentz wanted a closer connection to their food and became first-generation sheep farmers. Get Bentz Farm is located on 40 acres near Northfield, Minnesota. "There's so much we didn't grow up with and we're learning every day." Theresa credits her community for their support of small, sustainable farms. We all wear a lot of different hats, making it difficult to sustain a work-life balance. "There are times I'm really good at keeping all the balls in the air and rocking it, but there are also times when the balls drop and that's okay." In the TransFARMation podcast, Theresa also highlights the teamwork seen on the farm. "Our kiddos get to watch Mom and Dad run a business in our home and watch us work together. which is cool for kids to see; maybe that's how it should be." Listen to the full podcast episode with Theresa Bentz.
Published May 11, 2022
Episode Description: Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza has spread to more than 30 states and has affected millions of birds. The commercial poultry industry went through a similar outbreak in 2015. Erica Sawatzke is a turkey grower from Kennsington, Minnesota and chairs the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. "We're fortunate that my farm has not gotten it yet, but you always have this fear of who's next." Farmers are in the food business and the concept of euthanizing the flock has a financial and emotional toll on growers. "It's just a helpless feeling." In this episode of TransFARMation, Sawatzke shares her unique perspective about this deadly disease. Learn more in this edition of the TransFARMation podcast.
Published April 26, 2022
Episode Description: Lake Benton, Minnesota farmer Bob Worth was a 'young gun' when he began farming 50 years ago until the farm crisis of the 1980s hit, taking its toll. As a result, he went into a severe case of depression. "It was so bad I didn't even care if I got out of bed. Even if harvest was there, I didn't care; it (the crop) could stay there." Bob's wife convinced him to go see a doctor. "I'm glad she did. The doctor put be on some medicine and diagnosed me with severe depression." As a past president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association, Bob has been vocal about his experience with depression. There are some similarities between the 1980s and the tough farm economy of today. Worth leaves listeners with this piece of advice. "Communication is so important, especially during times of stress." Hear more in the latest TransFARMation podcast.
Published April 11, 2022
Episode Description: Due the supply chain headaches, farmers are dealing with shortages of certain crop protection products, fertilizer and farm machinery parts. Farmer and crop consultant Curt Burns, who is based at Stewart, Minnesota, discusses the anxiety faced by growers this spring. When making a visit to his farm clients, Burns says the conversation nearly always turns to the angst and nervousness in production agriculture today. "You talk about this in the shop or the kitchen table and it is more like being a counselor than an agronomy person." Burns has practical advice in this edition of TransFARMation.