My Generation

Lessons from the '80s: Your Most Important Assets

A handful of state Farm Bureau presidents share hard-earned wisdom from the '80s farm crisis. This story personifies them all.

I'm writing this while sitting at the American Farm Bureau Convention. I just attended an economic outlook workshop and I've sat through a panel where a handful of state Farm Bureau presidents are reflecting on the '80s.

If there is one common theme here, it is that times are about to change. The message, especially to my generation, is a strong one. More than once I've heard that if you've been farming less than 10 years, you haven't yet experienced anything like what the next three to five years will hold.

I'll share a lot more over the next few days, but for now, take a look at this story from Iowa Farm Bureau president Craig Hill.

"Growing up, I saw this family all through 4-H…they were a wonderful family. A family I grew up wanting to be like. We went to the same church. Large, good, honest family. They lost a farm they were renting, and one thing led to another. He took a job driving a truck, depending on family to keep things running at home – he was working day and night, about working himself to death. Eventually his wife got tired of it. She asked him to move out. One night, his son found him in the barn, committed suicide. One child died of illness. Another child left, angry at the world. The whole family disintegrated.

"When you stare at your cash flow each and every night and you're under this kind of stress, the thing you can't forget is your most important asset. The real important thing is your family. That's what we saw in the '80s: it affected families.

"When you think about economic stress, think about your most important assets. Everything else is secondary."

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