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If I'd known then what I know now ...

Agriculture.com Staff 07/07/2010 @ 9:10am

Semi-retired farmer and market analyst Roy Smith reflects on his early years as a farmer. He and his wife met with the need for sacrifice, off-farm income and a break or two. What he learned still carries a message for young and beginning farmers.

Veteran farmer Brent Olson recently shared a few lessons he's paid to learn. Browse this slideshow filled with wit and wisdom.

Idaho farmer Fred Butler learned a lot of valuable lessons from his father. "Other than an occasional cross word with a wrench or an escaped cow, Dad was always whistling and seemed to be in a good mood," he says. "Even though he worked hard, he made it look easy." In the first of a two-part series, Fred discusses a few of the lessons he's learned, including the benefits of being part of a community, and the importance of keeping things in perspective.

"To me, the best farmers are the best debt managers," says Agriculture Online Views columnist and Iowa farmer Clayton Rye. "You can have the great yields, the highest rate of gain, and own the best line of machinery and still go out of business when expenses exceed income, especially debt expense." Controlling debt is a key lesson all farmers have to learn, he says.

Agriculture Online Markets columnist Roy Smith says, "If I knew then what I know now, I am not sure I would have tried it. Still, the urge to farm was overwhelming for me as it is for many young people." A grain bin dealership and a wife with an off-farm job helped the family get through the lean years. "A young person with farming ambition needs to use all of the resources available to make the business profitable," he says.

Minnesota farmer and Agriculture Online Views contributor Brent Olson says, "Farming is like poker -- you always pay to play." He advises beginning farmers to look bad news in the face, plan ahead, let go of grudges, be honest, and get involved in the community. Also, Olson says, it's important to maintain balance. "Some years you'll have to shut off the tractor in order to make it to the sixth grade band concert, other years you'll be harvesting right through your scheduled anniversary dinner because of ominous clouds on the horizon," he says.

Semi-retired farmer and market analyst Roy Smith reflects on his early years as a farmer. He and his wife met with the need for sacrifice, off-farm income and a break or two. What he learned still carries a message for young and beginning farmers.

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