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Across the Editor's Desk: Time to assess & plan

Agriculture.com Staff 01/26/2010 @ 1:30pm

You are now several weeks into a new year and a new decade. Most of you are glad to say good riddance to last year. As USDA nears closing the books on 2009, it estimates a 34.5% drop from the record net farm income of 2008. If your 2009 income is up, you are certainly in the minority. If your income fell less than the average, take a little comfort in that.

January, as the earth rests under snow cover in many areas, is a good month to assess, reflect, and plan. Assessing a year like 2009 for many farm operations can be painful. The challenge is separating the income-slicing impacts you can't control, such as severe weather, from decisions that didn't turn out the way you expected.

As you reflect on not only the past year but also on the bigger drivers that keep you enthused about farming, what do you say? Agriculture.com asked farmers in a recent Ag Poll what they most liked about farming. Tops by far in a list of six was "independence" at 55%. "Growing things" drew 22%. "Financial rewards" at 3% was last.

As you think through specific plans to make 2010 better than last year, here's an item to add that probably isn't on your list: Your good health and safety. Charlotte Halverson, an occupational health nurse in northeast Iowa, has seen over and over the harm to a farm business due to poor health or injury to the lead manager.

"A key part of farm safety is personal health," she says. "A farmer's health is the operation's greatest asset. If it's jeopardized by a chronic illness, the well-being of the farm is put at risk."

Finally, here's a tip to keep you safe. Get a new Successful Farming Safety Clip. The clip quickly clamps on an oversize load and is easily seen in traffic. To order a Safety Clip, call 800/678-5752 or visit www.farmhomecollection.com. Each clip is $14.95. Successful Farming magazine will donate $1 of every Safety Clip sold through January to Farm Safety 4 Just Kids.

You are now several weeks into a new year and a new decade. Most of you are glad to say good riddance to last year. As USDA nears closing the books on 2009, it estimates a 34.5% drop from the record net farm income of 2008. If your 2009 income is up, you are certainly in the minority. If your income fell less than the average, take a little comfort in that.

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