Q I know these are tremendous times in agriculture. My husband and I have never seen commodity prices like these in all of our years of farming. And even though we will likely make more money this year than we ever have in the past, we both are anxious about the future—and wonder how long the good times will last. Maybe we're just not good at rapid changes like this. Is this normal? And what should we do handle these good times?
—Worried about being worried
A Yes, it is normal—and you're definitely not alone. It may be hard to believe but good times can be stressful. Anytime the rhythm of life suddenly changes, it can be difficult to adjust. Stress can feel the same whether you're struggling to make it or struggling not to blow success.
These times come with big opportunities and bigger risks—and that will naturally make you more nervous. Plus, don't forget that success isn't always smiled on in rural America. When things start going well for someone, their neighbors' jealousies, rivalries and pettiness can seep to the surface like emotional sewage. That is difficult in itself. Today's hyper competitiveness for land in some areas can also be incredibly stressful.
Your best bet is to recognize the complex set of emotions that times like these can create—but don't cheat yourself from enjoying the good times. Position your farming business to make the most of it. Do this by minding the details—especially with marketing, rental agreements and buying inputs. Pay down debt and save as much as you can. Be assured the good times will not last forever, and plan accordingly. It is certainly no time to be sloppy. As in bad times, careful planning coupled with prudent behavior will limit the stress you feel. Take your time, and plan well. These are defining times, and I bet we'll look back on this period as one of the milestone periods of agriculture. Use the good times as a springboard for many years of success.
Mail your questions to: Helpline, Farm Journal, P.O. Box 958, Mexico, MO 65265. Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Your message will remain confidential! Individual personal replies are not possible. All advice is the sole opinion of Jonathan D. Finck and should not be considered a replacement for seeking professional help.