Where’s the Money? (Part 1)
Where’s the Money? – Part 1 of 2
As if the ag economy wasn’t struggling enough, along comes COVID-19 with more economic unknowns. Watch to see how you can keep hope and peace alive in this difficult time.
This video is part of the “Start the Conversation: Taking Care During Tough Times” video series created for Nebraska Extension’s Wellness in Tough Times project. The videos, led by Dr. Christine Chasek, include various strategies to improve your well-being and reduce stress during this challenging time.
Watch more videos at https://go.unl.edu/ruralwellness.
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[00:00:21.120]Well, hello everybody.
[00:00:22.520]My name is Dr. Tina Chasek
[00:00:23.959]and I'm coming to you from my kitchen.
[00:00:26.020]Okay, and so I am here on behalf
[00:00:29.216]of UNL Wellness in Tough Times team
[00:00:33.120]And we are doing a series of webinars and podcasts
[00:00:37.168]related to COVID and some of the issues that we're facing.
[00:00:40.700]So I'm here today to start the conversation.
[00:00:45.140]Today's topic is, where's the money?
[00:00:47.230]And so we all know that this farming has been difficult
[00:00:51.810]for a long time, but I think COVID is going to make
[00:00:54.710]some of these issues stand out a little bit to us.
[00:00:58.350]And so we just want to talk a little bit today
[00:01:01.100]about how we can minimize the impact,
[00:01:05.050]at least on our mental health, right?
[00:01:07.420]And so my grandma used to have a saying
[00:01:11.230]whenever we would go by a cattle yard.
[00:01:13.830]And of course, when you go by that
[00:01:15.840]you can smell (laughs) the business of what the cattle yard,
[00:01:19.730]the feed yards do, right?
[00:01:21.360]And she always would say,
[00:01:22.381]"Can you smell that? That's the smell of money."
[00:01:26.200]And so my grandma actually,
[00:01:28.770]and grandparents, we grew up
[00:01:31.740]in the Bustern part in Nebraska,
[00:01:33.820]a lot of ranching.
[00:01:35.830]And so although we did not ranch ourselves,
[00:01:38.650]we ran a lumber and hardware store
[00:01:40.728]that supplied all of the things to the ranchers in the area
[00:01:44.720]because it was a very small town, small community.
[00:01:48.450]And that was the place where everybody came
[00:01:50.560]to get all their supplies.
[00:01:51.640]So when the ranchers did well the store did well.
[00:01:55.070]When the ranchers were not doing well
[00:01:56.490]the store didn't do well.
[00:01:57.930]And so my grandma's thought was
[00:02:01.110]when the ranchers do well then ... right?
[00:02:03.540]That's the smell of money.
[00:02:05.140]And so I really, really loved growing up
[00:02:10.520]in the panhandle of Nebraska
[00:02:12.470]and even though now I live in central Nebraska,
[00:02:16.005]I grew up and came to college in Carney
[00:02:18.450]and we were not able to farm,
[00:02:21.650]the land just wouldn't support all of us on the family,
[00:02:25.160]and my husband's side of the family,
[00:02:26.890]'cause they do continue to ranch.
[00:02:29.010]Back in the panhandle, and so we had to find other things
[00:02:31.655]to support ourselves.
[00:02:33.680]And I think that's the story of a lot of kids who grew up
[00:02:37.240]in an agricultural setting.
[00:02:39.210]And it's really difficult,
[00:02:41.540]I think sometimes for us to make some of those hard choices
[00:02:46.190]when we have to, that are tied up into money and finances,
[00:02:49.510]and takes a hit, not only just financially,
[00:02:53.450]but also emotionally as well.
[00:02:55.887]And so like, where are we at?
[00:02:58.120]It's no suprise that the farm economy is in crisis
[00:03:01.410]and has been for some time.
[00:03:03.249]And those of you listening probably know well
[00:03:05.760]more than I do,
[00:03:07.170]some of the challenges because money just doesn't grow
[00:03:09.980]in the fields, right?
[00:03:11.010]It's not the crop that you're growing
[00:03:13.200]is hundred dollar bills.
[00:03:14.810]But over the last five years,
[00:03:18.680]at least the economic condition just has been worsening.
[00:03:22.550]And it probably goes even back further than five years,
[00:03:26.020]but there's just been this real sharp
[00:03:29.370]down downtrend of late.
[00:03:32.320]And so that's tied to lots of things
[00:03:34.450]that are outside of most people's control, right?
[00:03:37.900]Things like tariffs, government policies,
[00:03:41.580]increased in production costs, low commodity prices,
[00:03:46.230]multilevel years of just a downtrend in crop
[00:03:50.240]and livestock prices.
[00:03:51.640]And so the research says over the last year,
[00:03:56.080]there's been a 49% drop in net farm income,
[00:03:59.710]and that really shows up in a negative farm in common.
[00:04:04.770]I don't know very many people who work other than farmers
[00:04:08.150]for a negative, for a loss throughout the year.
[00:04:11.050]I mean, if that was your job,
[00:04:12.480]if you worked anywhere else and you were hired,
[00:04:14.150]you would quit that job, right?
[00:04:16.530]But that is not what's in the farmer
[00:04:22.340]and ranchers imperative.
[00:04:24.010]And so there's people that are a whole lot smarter than me,
[00:04:27.630]that can explain why all of these things are happening.
[00:04:31.250]But I do know that when you spend more to run the operation,
[00:04:34.660]then you can take in if there's trouble, right?
[00:04:36.907]And that's really no secrets
[00:04:39.398]'cause we're not bailing up hundred dollar bills,
[00:04:43.130]we're out there working hard, all of you to
[00:04:47.690]just barely scrap by and make a living.
[00:04:50.390]And so that's pretty evident
[00:04:52.460]when you look at the bankruptcy's,
[00:04:55.759]and although we're not at the levels
[00:04:58.880]of the historic bankruptcies in the farm crisis
[00:05:01.160]of the eighties, we're slowly starting
[00:05:03.140]to enter our way there.
[00:05:04.080]And I think part of the worry is,
[00:05:05.540]is that COVID is gonna tip that balance
[00:05:07.570]as we start to realize some of the financial effects
[00:05:10.620]that have happened immuno in Nebraska.
[00:05:12.360]We're also starting to realize some of the effects
[00:05:14.757]from the flooding and the blizzard that happened a year ago.
[00:05:19.378]So it's kind of a double whammy, right?
[00:05:22.020]And so the number of bankruptcies
[00:05:25.470]have steadily been increasing across the country
[00:05:28.150]in the last five years.
[00:05:29.660]And in fact, from march of 19 to march of 20,
[00:05:34.870]so the last year they were up over 23%.
[00:05:38.820]And that's been the third highest total
[00:05:42.169]in the last 20 years.
[00:05:43.660]So you can see where that is trending upward,
[00:05:46.670]and who leads the way?
[00:05:49.250]Wisconsin actually is a state leads the way
[00:05:51.580]a number of bankruptcies.
[00:05:53.300]And we hear a lot in the about the dairy farmers
[00:05:57.719]and have for quite sometime, how they're struggling.
[00:06:00.370]And you know that Wisconsin,
[00:06:01.530]that's their main agricultural product.
[00:06:04.821]So I last year got to go up to Wisconsin
[00:06:09.140]up to the farm medicine,
[00:06:11.720]the National Farm Medicine Center
[00:06:13.182]in Marshfield, Wisconsin and do some work
[00:06:16.690]with some other researchers in the agricultural field,
[00:06:19.650]kind of all these brilliant minds that come together
[00:06:22.393]and try to help understand the mental health impact
[00:06:28.380]that goes on in the farming and ranching community
[00:06:31.160]and how we can be a help,
[00:06:33.250]'cause that's my field, is psychology
[00:06:35.270]and that's what I do for a living,
[00:06:36.520]is try to help the emotional health,
[00:06:40.360]and my passion is tied to agriculture,
[00:06:43.150]growing up being a rural girl.
[00:06:44.880]And so that team of researchers, while we were up there
[00:06:51.850]they talked a lot about it.
[00:06:53.010]Wisconsin, the trouble that the dairy farmers are having
[00:06:59.000]and their rate of suicides is just really high
[00:07:01.490]because they're really,
[00:07:02.390]the industry is just pretty much disappearing
[00:07:05.190]and people are not making it.
[00:07:07.140]And so you look at that
[00:07:08.730]and then you look at who follows Wisconsin,
[00:07:12.400]it's actually Nebraska.
[00:07:13.740]So we're right behind Wisconsin
[00:07:15.470]in terms of the total number of bankruptcies
[00:07:17.730]across the nation, the second highest.
[00:07:23.295]That was made very real when I was up in Wisconsin
[00:07:30.300]at that National Farm Medicine Center meeting.
[00:07:35.200]I was sitting there and I was thinking,
[00:07:36.880]gosh, I got so much to do at home,
[00:07:38.650]Is this a good use of my time?
[00:07:40.230]And I should be doing clinical work,
[00:07:42.160]I should be seeing people.
[00:07:43.730]And how can we make impact on a bigger scale
[00:07:47.800]was kind of my question
[00:07:49.000]and is this where I needed to be.
[00:07:51.400]So my husband had sent me a text
[00:07:53.848]on the last day that I was there,
[00:07:56.401]and it was not a good text.
[00:08:00.689]One of the people in our community had went to the bank
[00:08:05.370]and was trying to work out the details of operating loans
[00:08:09.930]and all the financial pieces and was told no,
[00:08:13.801]that he was not able to the extended anymore credit,
[00:08:18.670]there was no more money,
[00:08:20.220]and that farmer unfortunately made the choice
[00:08:23.991]after that difficult meeting to take his own life.
[00:08:27.380]I thought how tragic he left behind kids and families
[00:08:33.050]and grieving parents and just a tragedy.
[00:08:37.970]And I also think about that lender,
[00:08:39.650]that had to make that tough call and some of the guilt
[00:08:44.870]and the stress and the strain and the worry
[00:08:47.860]not only on our farmers but the whole system,
[00:08:50.270]with what we're dealing with financially.
[00:08:52.480]And so, yes, it is a good use of our time
[00:08:55.210]to look at the mental health effects
[00:08:56.887]on this whole financial piece to farming.
[00:09:00.890]And if you dig further then into that bankruptcy,
[00:09:05.735]there over 50% of those bankruptcies
[00:09:09.330]occur out of the Midwest.
[00:09:11.210]So our neighbors, Iowa are third on the list.
[00:09:15.170]And so there really is a huge financial crisis
[00:09:19.090]in the farming community.
[00:09:20.840]And then we also look at now we have this COVID
[00:09:23.340]and what is it gonna do to finances?
[00:09:26.400]And right now we're in the midst of the healthcare crisis
[00:09:30.140]with COVID, right?
[00:09:31.060]So the healthcare system being very overwhelmed
[00:09:34.030]with patients especially in of a bigger cities.
[00:09:38.610]And in Nebraska we are starting to see
[00:09:42.080]many, many more cases,
[00:09:44.230]and that's been tied to the meatpacking interest industry.
[00:09:47.130]And so again, we see the agricultural impact.
[00:09:52.860]What's gonna happen next?
[00:09:54.110]The experts predict is the financial crisis, right?
[00:09:56.750]As the economy has been slowed down
[00:09:58.710]and people are not working,
[00:10:00.790]we're going to start realizing the impact
[00:10:03.630]that it's gonna have on the economy.
[00:10:05.490]And then the next wave really of difficulty
[00:10:08.164]or crisis is gonna be on the mental health front,
[00:10:11.080]when people are facing those
[00:10:12.190]and having to make difficult choices.
[00:10:15.026]And so the economic impact they are predicting,
[00:10:18.380]there's going to be even more bankruptcies.
[00:10:21.470]And of course, when all of the economy, the slow down
[00:10:26.840]and all those things, a lot of farmers and ranchers
[00:10:29.870]really rely on that off the farm income,
[00:10:34.554]rather working off of the farm to make ends meet
[00:10:37.863]for benefits and that such,
[00:10:40.050]well, now that we've had such massive unemployment
[00:10:42.440]related to COVID, off the farm income is dropping.
[00:10:46.836]So then that hurts in terms of meeting basic needs, right?
[00:10:51.777]And so, so many things are closed due to the coronavirus.
[00:10:56.080]Our economy, and it's not just, yes, it isn't inconvenience,
[00:11:00.090]we can't go out and shop at stores,
[00:11:01.540]we want to or we aren't able to go to restaurants
[00:11:07.050]and eat where we like to
[00:11:08.980]those things, yes are inconveniences,
[00:11:10.670]but a lot of the supply chain for agricultural products
[00:11:13.560]has been disrupted because places are closing
[00:11:15.770]and like meat packing issue, right?
[00:11:18.432]Workers are sick and not coming to work and panic
[00:11:22.899]and the numbers are rising within the industry,
[00:11:25.920]not only in Nebraska, but across the nation.
[00:11:28.120]We're really seeing the results
[00:11:30.533]of that supply chain disruption.
[00:11:33.413]Then what do farmers do with all of their product?
[00:11:38.318]And so that's become an issue.
[00:11:40.480]And we went to the grocery store the other day
[00:11:43.010]to buy some meat and number one, if you can find it,
[00:11:45.347]that's pretty amazing in the grocery store.
[00:11:47.990]Two, when you do, you pay a pretty hefty price,
[00:11:50.950]and it's not the farmer who is going to be realizing
[00:11:54.970]the profit off of that,
[00:11:58.710]that's going to more of the middleman
[00:12:00.340]than it is the actual farmer.
[00:12:01.920]But farmers are still farming, right?
[00:12:03.620]We don't close because of coronavirus,
[00:12:07.770]and the livestock still need to be taken care of,
[00:12:10.770]the crops still need to be planted.
[00:12:12.970]And so the American Farm Bureau Federation
[00:12:16.740]has this meat campaign going on
[00:12:18.970]about the farmers are still farming
[00:12:21.400]and doing what needs to be done,
[00:12:22.950]meets the crisis, and they have a a hashtag still farming,
[00:12:27.820]which speaks to the resiliency of farmers
[00:12:31.120]and that they are getting out there and doing
[00:12:34.002]what needs to be done.
[00:12:35.370]And that's what's in the blood, right?
[00:12:37.500]That's what's in farmers blood.
[00:12:39.240]And so this whole financial impact
[00:12:41.931]has some winners and some losers.
[00:12:44.870]So we've talked about a few of the losers,
[00:12:49.395](laughs) so to speak in the economy.
[00:12:52.710]But I think there's been some positive things,
[00:12:57.010]kind of the silver lining, if you will,
[00:12:59.378]to some of these storm clouds.
[00:13:01.360]And one is just our rural communities
[00:13:04.500]and our small rural communities,
[00:13:06.050]how they've been impacted has been really interesting.
[00:13:09.470]So my little small grocery store in the town where I live
[00:13:12.883]and I live in a town of 300 people,
[00:13:15.130]so it is a very small town, but we have the basics,
[00:13:18.370]we have a grocery store and a post office.
[00:13:20.230]And we have a very small restaurant
[00:13:22.820]that's also serves alcohol
[00:13:25.800]and there's the CO-OP gas station
[00:13:29.677]and a few other things.
[00:13:31.940]And one of the things that I've noticed
[00:13:33.920]because so many people are now at home,
[00:13:36.140]they're shopping locally, right?
[00:13:37.510]They're going into the small town grocery stores
[00:13:39.891]in our grocery store,
[00:13:41.860]even though there has been a lot of empty shelves,
[00:13:43.780]which I had never seen that before
[00:13:45.480]in my small little grocery store, like empty spaces.
[00:13:50.045]And that really points to, we need farmers
[00:13:52.931]to supplier our food, right?
[00:13:55.520]We can't go empty, there's like a panic when you see that.
[00:13:59.080]But the grocery store struggled and struggled and struggled,
[00:14:02.510]and of course, always talk about will it make it,
[00:14:05.027]will it make it.
[00:14:06.370]One small little grocery store close to where I live,
[00:14:08.970]the community rallied not too long ago
[00:14:11.320]just to keep it open.
[00:14:12.838]The reality is they didn't want to lose their grocery store,
[00:14:15.220]but so many people when they shop out of town,
[00:14:17.489]it can't sustain itself.
[00:14:20.259]And so now the small grocery stores are booming
[00:14:23.426]because people are not leaving town,
[00:14:27.380]staying in their small communities then shopping locally.
[00:14:30.370]So that's been one of the good things,
[00:14:32.500]and I think it really points to the fact that we really do
[00:14:35.410]need to support our small town businesses
[00:14:39.557]in our rural way of life
[00:14:42.930]really depends on a lot of those things.
[00:14:45.420]So going back to the days
[00:14:47.280]where the community was the hub,
[00:14:52.270]the center, the grocery store, the coffee shops.
[00:14:56.920]There was a few places out in the Sand Hills
[00:14:58.492]when I drive to go back home and I think of Valentine,
[00:15:03.100]there's everything you could need
[00:15:04.319]or want in that little town.
[00:15:06.960]I mean, they have really become a hub
[00:15:11.480]and people shop there and go there because it's necessity,
[00:15:14.790]there's not a whole lot elsewhere.
[00:15:16.330]And I think in the rest of Nebraska
[00:15:17.770]we could take a lesson from that instead of driving
[00:15:20.387]30 minutes to get all of our groceries in the bigger towns
[00:15:24.943]that we think first about our local folks
[00:15:29.290]that really support the agg economy.
[00:15:31.540]And so I guess the message here is be more like a farmer
[00:15:35.211](laughs) in a lot of ways.
[00:15:37.160]I think we all need to be more like a farmer,
[00:15:40.450]and that is support things locally,
[00:15:43.730]think about the land,
[00:15:44.820]think about the impact that the choices have financially.
[00:15:50.540]But I got such a chuckle the other day
[00:15:52.627]out of reading the newspaper in Carney.
[00:15:56.740]A woman had come to the city council
[00:15:59.030]and wanted a loosening of restrictions
[00:16:00.700]on being able to keep chickens in the city
[00:16:03.390]because she wanted to be able to get eggs,
[00:16:06.696]and because eggs were so expensive in the store.
[00:16:10.410]And my daughter who lives in Bellevue
[00:16:13.610]and they have what they call the city ranch,
[00:16:16.150]they live in the city limits of Bellevue,
[00:16:19.470]but they have an a couple acres and they have pasture
[00:16:22.540]and they've got sheep
[00:16:25.328]and you can take the girl out of the city, off the farm
[00:16:31.890]and into the city but the farm way alive still is there.
[00:16:36.510]And so she has eggs, and she's become very popular
[00:16:39.241]in her neighborhood (laughs) for that.
[00:16:42.430]And so buy local.
[00:16:44.960]I remember growing up as well, that my husband,
[00:16:49.730]where he lived, they were close to a dairy
[00:16:51.940]and in the panhandle,
[00:16:53.730]rather than buying milk in the store,
[00:16:55.160]they went directly to the dairy
[00:16:56.800]and got the milk right out of the taps.
[00:16:59.140]That was just such a fun experience
[00:17:01.820]to be able to go get milk.
[00:17:03.510]I mean, fresh right there anytime,
[00:17:05.920]and it supported that local farmer.
[00:17:09.170]So I think there's some things in terms of economy
[00:17:11.270]that maybe we need to do differently during this time,
[00:17:14.240]rather than thinking about going to to the store
[00:17:18.290]to buy our meats and relying on that,
[00:17:20.710]maybe we should think about buying it from another farmer
[00:17:23.680]who raise livestock, help both ends out.
[00:17:27.720]And so we're gonna continue the conversation
[00:17:30.450]in part two of this.
[00:17:32.500]We're talking about how finances affect our mental health.
[00:17:35.780]You might be surprised to learn
[00:17:37.670]that there's a direct correlation
[00:17:40.090]and impact with how well you're doing mentally
[00:17:43.280]and how your emotional wellness is
[00:17:45.087]and how your finances are.
[00:17:47.810]So stay tuned for that, part two.
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