Hi, may name is Gerry and I am a recovering hog producer. This is an introduction usually reserved for one’s involvement in a support group. (You know the one that has the 12 steps) And perhaps a group like that could benefit us all. Those 12 steps can be beneficial in many areas of life. Particularly if you are “recovering” from something. I call myself a recovering farmer. I have sometimes referred to myself as a recovering Mennonite. Truth be told, I have found myself trying to recover from many things in life. Some I don’t even want to admit to.
But before we go there, let’s take a look at what is needed to recover from what has been a long and protracted downturn in the livestock industry. In Poker terms many, if not all of you, have gone “all in”. In doing this we have put everything on the line including but not limited to finances, relationships, family, friends and community. Now it is time to take a sober second look at what is left and how to proactively deal with that. This will include conversations with creditors, secured and unsecured, discussions with partners and family members. Farm debt mediation can have significant benefits as you examine your financial status and decide your future, whether that is exiting the industry or restructuring your operation. Additionally this may mean for each one of you to have a look in the mirror and address the person looking back at you. Anxiety and depression may well have become part of your life and, if left untouched, may become a major problem.
I wrote these words at a time when cattle producers were still suffering the consequences of the BSE debacle and hog producers had been faced with excruciating losses for over 3 years. As I write these words grain farmers are seeing devastating rains that are leaving fields flooded, crops drowning and, in some cases, not being able to put in their crops. They too, are now facing losses from which some will not be able to recover while others use up further equity.
Very often, in times like these, people are left feeling paralyzed, not knowing what their next step should be. As mentioned earlier, they have given their all. Finances are depleted, relationships are strained and the future looks bleak. Options appear few and far between. In times like these it is important for you to deal with the problems up front rather than to let them build and escalate. There are resources available. Whether you need assistance in dealing with creditors. Perhaps a counselor. Maybe just a chat with a neighbor or friend. Talking to a confidant can help in releasing many of your unwanted feelings. Phoning the Manitoba Farm and Rural Stress Line can put you in touch with a counselor and can be your first step in finding options to address the issues you may be facing. There is hope. There is relief. Make it a good one.