Recently I was e-mailed by a follower of this column and she asked me an intriguing question. The question was, “How do I become a good farm wife?” In all my travels and seminars, I have never been asked this question, so here are my thoughts based upon last week’s 3,000 air miles and 600 more in a Hertz rental car.

Understand the Records

Your first responsibility whether you work on or off the business is to have some level of understanding of the financial records. First, if you are the daughter-in-law, who sometimes is not part of the inter-family circle, stress the importance of becoming part of it. An outside facilitator who suggests this action can overcome the scowls over the glasses and the crossed arms of resistance.

Make sure you require that the records – the accountant’s or grandma’s – be opened and examined. Look for signs of a profitable farm in the form of net income and accumulated net worth.

Do you see a buildup of accounts payable or unpaid operating lines of credit that are refinanced on a regular basis? If this is the case, your retirement plan in the farm may be going down the drain.

Ask to know the cost of production and profit margins on various enterprises. Make sure you go along to the meetings with the lender, particularly if you have to sign your name to the bottom line. Remember you will be responsible for the debt as well.

Well, this is just getting me started. I will continue this dialogue in next week’s column.

I am Out of Touch!

The other evening I was flying from Atlanta to Roanoke, VA, about half awake. A lot of fuss was being made over three guys sitting up in front. To make a long story short, it was Ice Cube, the rapper turned actor. They had a stretch limo to take them to Blacksburg, VA, to visit our football stars Marcus Vick and Kevin Jones. I drove to Blacksburg in my 1989 Ford pickup. The problem is, I didn’t know who it was until I read the newspaper headlines the next day!

By the way, I will be in Grand Forks, ND, in a couple weeks – please turn up the heater! Near my hometown in upstate New York, they’ve received 69 inches of snow in 32 hours. Believe it or not, I do miss the lake effect snows, but only for a short time!

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

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and 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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