At a Farm Bureau and Greenstone Farm Credit meeting in Grand Rapids, MI, a speaker indicated in the next decade 50,000 farms and ranches would exit the industry while only 5,000 would enter. While the statistic is startling, the 5,000 that enter are going to be much better total managers. That is, they will be good at financially marketing, and will be business astute. Some will match lifestyles and off-farm jobs with their agricultural pursuits and will see the cup half full rather than half empty.

High Debt Levels

While the average percent equity of all farms is 84%, and around 60% for commercial farms, debt levels in the household are mounting worldwide.

German households are ahead of the U.S. as measured by total debt to disposable income. Germans are at 115%, increasing from 85% since 1991, while the U.S. is at 106% of income.

The kicker is that the large increase in debt to income ratio since 1991 in Germany is in mortgage debt to purchase property. In contrast, the U.S. increase consists of consumer installment debt for vacations, cars, trucks and other stuff.

Road Quotes

  • Hire for attitude and develop the skill base.

  • Political contributions are a form of bribery.

  • Dean Smith, when asked what he would have done if he was not a basketball coach at North Carolina, said he would teach math and coach basketball in high school. Great philosophy.

Sports Perspective

My picks to the Final Four: (This is before the brackets have been set.) Anyone with a good point guard and a team that can shoot foul shots and be lucky at least once will rise to the top. Duke is one of the teams, while Gonzaga is my favorite team. Kansas and Maryland usually crumble, but are tough. Watch Oklahoma.

On the women’s side, watch University of Connecticut.

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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