Humans are highly curious creatures.

It’s human nature to be attracted to gossip.

Did you ever play the telephone game when you were a child?

If so, you know how stories evolve as they’re shared between more and more people. If not, the telephone game is defined as:

The telephone game….is a game played around the world, in which one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first. Reasons for changes include anxiousness or impatience, erroneous corrections, the difficult-to-understand mechanism of whispering, and that some players may deliberately alter what is being said to guarantee a changed message by the end of the line. Source

Farm gossip spreads like wildfire and the resulting news can often resemble the outcome of a children’s game of telephone.

Farmers are in a unique business where you live and work so close to your competition. In different industries, business owners may never meet their compeition face-to-face in their entire careers. Farming is different.

I’ve heard many stories about farmers I’ve worked with that are “tall tales” at best.

  • “Did you hear Joe Farmer paid this crazy high rent?” There have been numerous instances where I’ve seen the actual rent contracts and they are materially lower than the coffee shop gossip.“
  • "John Farmer has to be cheating crop insurance to cover that many acres!” Maybe said producer is simply optimizing their overhead to make it work. Maybe they are playing crop insurance games. In 99.9% of cases, we’ll never know so there’s no use worrying about it.
  • “I don’t know how Small Farmer makes it work. He’s let farms go the last two years. Things must be tight for him.” I know numerous smaller farms who have very little or no debt and oftentimes they farm a lot of ground they own free and clear. A good place to be, if you ask me.

At the end of the day all that matters is your farm and your bottom line.

There’s always going to be industry gossip in any industry, farming included. Categorize it as just that, gossip. Don’t fixate on it.

Focus on ways to improve your farm.

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Nick Horob
Passionate about farm finances, software, and assets that produce cash flow (oil wells/farmland/rentals). U of MN grad.
Fargo, ND