Dairy Crisis: #1 Concern

Nor' east Thinkin'

Survivability and losses dominate ag leaders concerns

Published on: October 9, 2009

This week, ag leaders involved in Pennsylvania’s Center for Farm Transition spent a lot of time discussing the dire straits that many dairy farmers are in. And the spokeswoman for New York’s FarmNet program noted that they’re hearing exactly the same.


Ag Department and lending officials estimate that as much as 50% of dairy farmers are in trouble, as defined by having accounts more than 30 or 60 days overdue. One “long-in-the-tooth” Penn Stater acknowledged that he hadn’t seen agriculture in this tough of shape since 1957.


We listened with great interest as FarmNet’s outreach program was explained. In brief, more than 50 counselors – half of them ag business and half licensed social workers – team up to help struggling farms work towards the best resolve of their difficulties. It was noted – over and over – that the personal struggle was just as important to address and the financial.


Key points raised . . .


  • An ag lender noted how crucial it is to realistically address financial problems, with the help of an objective third party expert. “The choice may come down to walking away from the farm with $100,000 versus continuing the struggle and being forced out with nothing or even a continuing debt burden.”


  • When someone pulls the plug on you, it’s never a tenable solution.


  • It’s critical to seek help and find solutions and/or alternative opportunities before you reach that “do or die” situ.


  • Finally, the leadership skills of the farm’s junior generation are increasingly important to its future – and they’ll increasingly influence lending.


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