A popular song from 1919 - "How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" - takes a lighthearted look at a farm family's fears that their sons will lose interest in the rural lifestyle after coming home from World War I.
Today's farm families live a much more sophisticated lifestyle compared with those a century ago. Yet they share one concern - that the family farm will no longer remain in the family.
Farmland in the U.S. is disappearing at an alarming rate - two acres every minute, according to the American Farmland Trust.
I see this playing out regularly where I live. The development where I live sits on what used to be a sprawling farm. Beginning in 1988, pieces of the farm were sold and subdivided. The land now contains three separate housing developments. The last bit of the farm was sold to a developer earlier this year and excavation for new construction is already underway. A farm that used to grow crops and raise turkeys now sprouts townhomes and apartment buildings. Our local newspaper published a column which bemoaned the loss of the farm, but the author noted that you would have to sell a lot of turkeys (not to mention do all the dirty work accompanying them) in order to earn the amount of money that a developer paid for the land. Who could say no to an offer like that?
The road on which I live used to be a scenic country drive. One by one, farms along that road are being turned into shopping centers and convenience stores. Every time I see another "for sale" sign going up in a cornfield, my heart feels as though something has died.
What does any of this have to do with the financial services profession?
Not all farm families want to sell their land. Many would love to see this asset remain in the family. But they also want to be sure they will have money to fund their retirement needs. Here is where you can give them the advice to make these things happen.
In our August issue, Louis Shuntich took a look at the type of retirement planning farmers and ranchers need to accomplish their late-in-life goals. With 57 being the average age of an American farmer, this type of advice is needed desperately.
This is not the first time InsuranceNewsNet has addressed the topic of planning for farmers. In our February 2015 issue, Mr. Shuntich looked at how life insurance can help farm families in their succession planning - by keeping the farm in the family as well as keeping the family in the farm.
There are few occupations more important than growing the food we eat. Many of our readers don't have to look far to find prospects in this important population segment. With a little planning, you can help keep 'em down on the farm.
Susan Rupe is managing editor for InsuranceNewsNet. She formerly served as communications director for an insurance agents' association and was an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor. Contact her at [email protected].
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