Dairyland’s In Debt

If you are struggling to hold on to your family farm you are not alone.

According to the USDA, the estimated median household income for farm families in 2018 was negative $1,553.

In 2018, almost 700 dairy farms across the state of Wisconsin closed. According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection there are now just 8,046 dairy herds in the entire state. This is a 40 percent drop over the past 10 years.

For the third year in a row, Wisconsin lead the nation in farm bankruptcies filed under Chapter 12 of the bankruptcy code. Other farmers have filed under Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13, or gave up farming and sold everything off without filing for bankruptcy so they aren’t counted in the official “farm bankruptcy” reports, but we see them.

All this is to say, the ag industry is not doing well. If you are struggling, it’s not your fault. Things haven’t looked this bad since the 1980’s Farm Crisis.

At Hanson & Payne we are helping several farming families in Southeast Wisconsin determine what the best path forward for them may be. We don’t push our client’s to file for bankruptcy. We lay out all of the available options and discuss the pros and cons so you can make the decision that is best for you.

We appreciate how difficult it is to decide to give up your way of life and the land your family homesteaded on five generations ago. If you want to try and ride out the current slump, we can help. If you want to keep the house, but not your land, we can help. If you are ready to retire and move south, we can help. No matter what your goals are, we are here to lend a hand.

Losing Your Farm Is Not The Worst Thing That Could Happen

Not a lot of bankruptcy attorneys are talking about this, but we feel the need to say that financial help is not the only help you many need if your farm is in trouble. It’s no secret that suicide is becoming more common among farmers, but it’s probably the only topic people like talking about less than money.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please ask for help.

You can find toll-free, 24/7 suicide prevention and emotional crisis hotlines at http://suicidehotlines.net/ or by calling 1-800-SUICIDE and 1-800-273-TALK.

DATCP’s Farm Center, which can be reached at 1-800-942-2474 on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. has a lot of resources for farms and farmers in crisis. They can also be reached by email at farmcenter@wisconsin.gov.

Farm Aid’s Farmer Resource Network and Hotline (1-800-FARM-AID) directs farmers to mental health and suicide prevention assistance all over the country.

You wouldn’t hesitate to help a neighbor, friend, or family member who was in distress, so don’t be afraid to help yourself or ask someone to help you.