Skip to main content

Young, Beginning Farmers
A Letter to Every Farmer Under the Age of 35 (Article)
By: Wanda Patsche, Farmer/Blogger
TAGS: Young, Beginning Farmers, Women In Agriculture
November 04, 2016 -
Dear Young Farmer:
Farming is an honorable occupation, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is a profession overflowing with risk, hard work and great rewards. Right now, the risk involved with farming is wearing our patience thin. If there is anything that is constant with farming, it is volatility. Volatility means liable to change rapidly and unpredictably, especially for the worse. And, it's the worst part that is affecting us now. Most people would never be able to handle the volatility farmers experience, but, we are tough and we will get through it.
Commodity prices have plummeted, corn prices today are between $2 to $3 and soybeans sit between $8 to $9. All are well below the cost of production. These prices have caused even those of us over the age of 35 to take note of what is happening.
As a young farmer, you have not experienced the volatility we are facing right now, but we have. It’s tough and challenging. But the good news? This will pass. From experience I can tell you that the saying “the higher the highs, the lower the lows” rings true. And, as someone who has weathered past storms, I have some suggestions to help get you through these tough times.
  • Remember that volatility in agriculture is cyclical, and it will pass.
  • Know your cost of production. This is nothing new to you. But now, more than ever, it’s important to really understand what it costs you to produce that bushel of corn or soybeans.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to diversify. Diversification has helped our farm tremendously.
  • Face the reality that you will not be making the same profits you have in the past few years. This doesn't mean you will never make these profits again, it just means it won't happen for a while.
  • You may need to do some things differently. Find ways to become more efficient. In the end, it's times like these that will make you a better farmer.
  • Keep open communication with your lender and suppliers. Never stop building those relationships.
  • Keep your friends and family close. Do not isolate yourself. Talk to other farmers about what they are doing to get through these times. Listen and offer encouragement to other farmers.
  • Consider working with other farmers by sharing equipment and/or labor.
  • Sign up for a marketing class or financial workshop. Educating yourself will benefit you now and in the future. Again, this will make you a better farmer.
  • It's okay to listen to your parents or other farmers with a lot of experience. They have wisdom that only time and experiences create.
Be patient and have trust. You will get through this. In five years, farming will be different than it is today. You may need to make some tough decisions, but in the end, you and your farming business will be better because of it. Take some time for yourself and your family. And always remember what is really important in your life, which is your faith, friends and family.
Yours truly,
Farmers who understand and have been through this before and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Retired farmer age 65
I was raised on a farm, I farmed until selling my land and equipment in March of 2014. I did so because of my study of 30 year and 60 year commodity cycles. Commodity prices will be below cost of production for at least five more years, then start upward in the next cycle up ending around 2038. The best advice to a young farmer 30 years old? Find another job for the next 7 years.
Response to "Great Advice and Insight"
Thank you for your comments. And, yes, if there is really any constant with farming is the fact there is no constant. And that is what we need to prepare ourselves for. Wanda Patsche
Response to "Thank You"
Sometimes those of us who have been through this before forget that many young farmers have not. And we have the experience and the wisdom to pass on to our younger generation. Thank you for your comments!
Response to "Whatever"
Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment. I do hear what you are saying. In farming, as with any profession, success runs the gamut. Currently grain prices are trending downward below the cost of production and I was trying to offer encouragement and guidance to young farmers as they probably haven't been through times like this. Again, thank you for your feedback. Wanda Patsche
Thank You
We have been through this also in the past and we keep telling our children the same thing. This will help them grow in the business and be able to react to different markets once we leave the business. So thank you, I definitely shared this article with them.
Great Advice and Insight
Thank you. It really does help to get another perspective. We all know this is not going to be a great year, but to understand how others have coped in the past and came out on the other side does make us feel better.
Response to "Whatever"
When someone works hard and experiences success, they're allowed to have nice things.
Every farmer I know has two house a lake home or winter hideaway down south and they all have some kind of expensive collectible muscle car. Or some other expensive toy.
Respond to "Just what I needed"
Glad to hear that! Wanda Patsche
Just what I needed!!
Thanks so much for this as a wife of a young farmer!!!
Response to "Love this article"
Thank you! Wanda Patsche
Response to "Thanks for the advice!"
Thank you for your comments! And it will be a challenging year for all of us. But we have been through this before so we just need to be vigilant in our farming decisions. Wanda Patsche
Response to Great advice!
Honestly, farming times have been pretty easy lately unless you are a livestock farmer who needs to purchase all your feed ingredients. They haven't had an easy time lately. And you are so right to stay grounded. I know during the "good times" we are always thinking ahead and wondering how we can prepare ourselves for the next tough times, because there will be tough times again. Thanks for your comments! Wanda Patsche
Response to Julie @ In Between The Sunsets of Life
Thank you for your comments! And, yes, you know full well how experience does help. Wanda Patsche
Reply to Protein Sector
Yes, these prices will help livestock farmers. It seems where one sector "wins" another "loses" and it has now flipped to the other side. I am glad you are recovering. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a nice profit for everyone? Thanks for responding! Wanda Patsche
Protein sector is breathing a sigh of relief!
Enjoyed your article. As part of the cycle, the livestock folks are breathing easier with corn and soybean meal cheaper than last year. Instead of losing $40 per hog sold, we're currently making $10, and need to recover a bit. Like you said - know your cost of production! And next year will probably be different!
Great letter!
This is a wonderful letter! Great job! My husband is 48, his Dad 86, so we know that experience helps! Great advice! Julie @ In Between The Sunsets of Life
Great advice!
More people should pay attention to articles like this! My dad always tell stories of the 80s, and with that I have learned to stay grounded and never get greedy! Some of the older generation could do to read articles like this - some of them are farming like they have forgotten the hard times. Thanks, Wanda! :)
You are welcome. It will be a tough year for màny of us.
This is great!
Not only for those who are under 35, but new to agriculture, like my 40 year old self.
Thanks for the advice!
My husband and I are both 34, so we just barely squeak into this group. This year will be an interesting one for us financially, no doubt. It reminds us that we aren't in it just for the money -- it is simply our passion. Thanks for the words of encouragement and the advice, too!
Love this article!
Great advice for the younger generation of farming. Thanks for sharing Wanda!
Add Comment
Help us stop spam
Please type the number in the image you see here
(If you cannot read the image, please refresh the page)
If you can't read this number refresh your screen
AgStar Newsletter AgStar RSS
Wanda Patsche
Wanda is a wife, mother and grandmother from south central Minnesota who farms with her husband, Chuck. They have 3 daughters and 5 grandchildren. In addition to their family, they raise hogs, corn and soybeans. With a passion for agriculture, Wanda is an agvocate and also a blogger who talks about the topics most close to her heart - agriculture and living in rural Minnesota. In addition to being responsible for the accounting functions on the farm, Wanda’s helps with the crops in both spring and fall. When she is not busy with farming and family, researching family history tries to find a foothold in her busy life.
Contact Wanda Patsche
What's Popular
Most Viewed Most Shared