This statistic breaks my heart.
Farming is a full-time job. Early morning milking and feeding. Long hours in the tractor. Even longer hours in the barn fixing. Late night feeding and milking. Paperwork. Planning. Meetings. Building. Mending. The list goes on and on. Even if farmers have another job off of the farm, they still have to put in these hours to make it all work.
But, right now, our farmers aren’t making a full-time paycheck, and all of those bills still have to be paid.
That means a lot of farm families are seeking employment off the farm to compensate. Imagine working two full-time jobs. Or even a full-time job and a part-time job. It means sacrificing on sleep, missing your son’s football game, late night dinners, and no vacation. It means spreading yourself too thin, not being there when you should be, and barely making ends meet. The alternative is to cut your losses and sell. To watch all the hard work from generations of your family slip away. To no longer call yourself a farmer.
I don’t write this to find sympathy or pity. I share this with you because it is the reality that so many farm families are facing. Politicians can talk in Washington. Activists can yell and protest. Companies can have their marketing gimmicks. But this economic reality? That’s really what we’re trying to figure out right now. At the end of it, not all of us will still be on the farm.
Farm families are strong though. I hope they’re strong enough this time around.