Step aside diet and exercise. The treadmill can wait when there’s a NEW resolution in town.
As the popular old farmer saying goes, “There’s always next year.” We in agriculture tend to start out the new year with a fresh start and clean slate. Now that harvest is complete, what can we focus on for 2020? Here are a few ideas to get your gears turning (pun intended) on some popular farm related new year’s resolutions.
1. Put yourself — and your mental health — first. Mental health is a popular topic these days and the past couple years have been very difficult on our farmers. Just know that it’s OK. Problems with tariffs, Mother Nature, abandoned harvests, low commodity prices … they all play a role but it doesn’t make you a bad farmer. Call your health insurance company and ask them for the best mental health resources. Talk to someone you love and trust and try not to spread yourself to thin to the point where you burn out. It’s OK to take a break and ask for help.
2. Plan a dang succession plan already! It’s something that can be SO easy to put off, but do you know how you’re going to pass the farm off to the next generation? The average American farmer is 58 years old and time goes by so quickly. Think about how you’re going to do it as unemotionally as possible. Here are some questions (courtesy of Farm Bureau Financial Services) to ask yourself and tips on how to get started with planning.
3. Be better organized with equipment, tools, etc. “Where the heck is that 3/8 wrench?” It can be frustrating to lose an important part or tool. Equipment needs to be cared for to prevent breakdowns, rust, and other things, and implementing new organizational drawers and systems can save you a lot of time. Time is money and every little bit helps.
4. Keep livestock pens just a little cleaner. We get it, life on the farm can get pretty crazy and hectic. Sometimes you might not have a place to store the manure, maybe conditions aren’t right for hauling. Take better advantage of the days that are good for it and reap the benefits. When cattle pens are cleaner, there’s fewer instances of illness and disease. Less medication and vet bills equals more money in your pocket, and healthy, clean animals are a key component to that. Take the time to ensure they’re raised in the best conditions possible — improved rate of gain and the farm process will overall go much smoother.
5. Keep better track of the books. Breakdowns and repairs, input costs like seed, fertilizer, chemical, and feed can add up quickly. Do you really know your ROI? By having better spreadsheets and record keeping, you can do better cost comparison among vendors and can do a better job of shopping around. Try an experimental seed plot with a different company. The cost savings can quickly add up!
6. Become more involved. With the average person being multiple generations removed from the farm, how can we better connect with the public? Social media gives us great opportunities to connect while volunteer opportunities are plentiful. You could volunteer at schools to talk about a day in the life of a farmer, inspire others to get excited about agriculture, start a YouTube channel, whatever! The possibilities are endless, and people are becoming so much more interested than ever to learn where their food comes from.
Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is an Iowa-based farmer, public speaker, and writer, who lives and works with her boyfriend on their farm, which consists of row crops, beef cattle, and sheep. She believes education is key in bridging the gap between farmers and consumers.