The term balance sheet makes me smile because with the decline in crop prices, a lot of things are out of balance and are being rebalanced.
The balance sheet is more of a balancing act right now with adjustments to expenses and income, assets and liabilities, as we wait for better days that do not seem to be very close.
Decisions that were made two and three years ago are being re-examined with changes being made and a few more that remain uncertain for now.
Somewhere there is a bottom, but nobody is saying it has arrived. Prices are described as being a trading range (until they go lower).
Decisions are being made using a sentence that resembles, “I don’t think we will do that this year,” or, “I believe we can make that last another year.”
The only thing we seem to have a shortage of is optimism.
Every generation involved in agriculture has to endure a downturn at least once and usually twice. It is not anything new.
As I was thinking about this, I remembered writing about this subject many years ago. I searched a couple of hard drives and found it.
I wrote it in January 2008 when corn averaged $4.13 for the marketing year and soybeans were $10.26.
I am not sure of the expenses in 2008 other than I believe I can say we have had seven years of increases.
I do not want to guess how things will be in another seven years, which really is not that far way.
Here’s what I wrote then:
There’s a very thin line I dare not cross
It is the difference between profit and loss.
From my income I subtract my expense,
Then that thin line is like a fence
Dividing two colors, black and red,
One color I want, the other I dread,
Maybe that line is a ledge
Go too far and I’m over the edge,
Or is it a tightrope that must be crossed?
A slip or a fall and all is lost.
Controlling my risk, leaving little to chance.
Move steady and slow to keep my balance.
Many ropes to cross in a farming career,
I walk this tightrope year by year.
I spend my money and place my bet.
Insurance and the FSA are my safety net.
Whether it’s rain, sun, markets and such,
Sometimes there’s too little, sometimes too much.
Each decision becomes a step on the rope
Made with the facts, mixed with some hope.
Walking the tightrope, doing our best.
No place to turn around, no place to rest.
I can look worried and sometimes frown
As long as I concentrate and not look down.
Don’t be scared and try not to flinch.
Moving step by step and inch by inch.
It’s good to be cautious, but not to despair.
When things get tough, there’s always prayer.
We walk the tightrope from beginning to end
Then next year start over and come back again.
Walking the tightrope between profit and loss,
It’s a very fine line and it’s the boss.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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