Ever hear that old saying, “Every path has a few puddles?” We sure stepped in a few puddles this year didn’t we? My calendar looks like my grandkids’ coloring book. Every page has been scribbled through, rewritten and scribbled on again. 

It’s been a difficult year to plan a lot of things in our lives. Schools have been canceled, county and state fairs have been canceled in most areas, as well as grower meetings, school sports, church meetings, 4-H events, weddings and a whole host of other events that have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. 

Between, pandemics, floods, hurricanes, fires, protests, riots and murder hornets, it’s a little scary to step outside. That is, unless you live on a farm. Country folks are used to planning their days by the weather, bugs and insects are common on the farm, and we even get the occasional protestor. Pandemics are new for farmers too, but we’ve been socially distancing since the beginning of time. Our co-workers are pigs and cows. 

Producers have been affected by the pandemic, but not in the way most people would think. Farmers and ranchers are still producing the same amount of goods that they did before the pandemic. It’s the delivery system after it leaves the farm that is the problem. 

When the coronavirus broke out in the processing plants, there wasn’t enough workers to continue to run the plants or at least run them at the same capacity, which meant they couldn’t purchase livestock (or as much). This left the rancher with nowhere to sell his livestock. Dairy cows still needed to be milked three times a day regardless if the milk truck showed up to empty the tank, so a lot of milk was dumped. 

A lot of other “behind the scenes” issues were popping up too. Products that were usually packaged for wholesale use in restaurants and schools had to be reconfigured to fit the sizes needed for the consumer. This took a lot of tearing down and resetting of manufacturing lines, which delayed shipment. 

All of these items, and others, convinced consumers that there were shortages, causing them to over buy. The overbuying made an already tight situation even worse. 

Who knows what the remainder of 2020 will bring? Are you prepared?

What does all of this have to do with a path and puddles? 

• Sometimes you get lost on your path and have to start over or back track

• When all else fails, you have to find a way through the puddle or around it – have a Plan B 

• At the end of the day it’s you that has to clean the mud off of your boots and carry on

• Don’t focus so far ahead that you don’t see the puddles before you hit them 

• Don’t discount human emotions – some people will want to sit in the pity puddles

I hope as you are reading this, you have made it through the puddles of 2020 and are still on the path without too many bruises.

Kathy Daily is the Senior Vice President of First Financial Bank’s Farm and Ranch Division. She has been an agricultural lender for more than 25 years. 


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