Use Available Tools to Manage Through COVID
Article By: Cathy Asher
At the onset of the New Year, many producers were happy to leave the challenges of 2019 in the rearview mirror. 2020 seemed to be filled with a renewed sense of optimism and opportunity. The farm community was hopeful; milk prices were up and trade negotiations with China were moving in the right direction. COVID-19 undoubtedly impacted agriculture in a negative way. Commodity prices appeared to drop overnight and the hopes that those tied to the agriculture community had to go into the year followed that trend. Everything we thought we knew about trends went out the window in the first few months of the year. We were left feeling like 2020 was out of our control.
Government intervention restored some hope in the form of multiple program acronyms. Programs such as the Small Business Administrations' Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), USDA's Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's (WEDC) WI Farm Support Program have provided aid to offset a portion of the impact caused by the coronavirus ripple. These programs along have helped to level the peaks and valleys we are experiencing with commodity market price volatility to some degree.
As farm business owners, it is important to use the tools at your disposal to limit the feeling of losing control. Everyone's toolbox looks a little different because every farm operation is different. Your toolbox might contain forward grain contracts or government programs such as dairy margin coverage or perhaps insurance products such as dairy revenue protection, livestock gross margin, or crop revenue protection. Maybe you've waited to execute on adding tools like a financial consultant or regularly scheduled meetings with your trusted advisors. It can be daunting to use some of these tools. It takes time to research and become comfortable with their use. However, whether the tools are implemented or eliminated, most business owners would agree that they are glad they did the research and feel empowered to move their business through these trying times. After all, doing something is always more beneficial than doing nothing.