News Date: 09/01/2009
Daniel Smith knows what it takes to run – and leave – a successful farm, and he knows the joy and pain of doing both. Now, he’ll use his experience to help farmers finding their way in a daunting economy.
Smith has joined the Wisconsin Farm Center, housed in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, as an AmeriCorps member. AmeriCorps is a national service program, akin to the Peace Corps, but working in the United States rather than other nations. He is assigned to help out with the growing number of calls to the center, as more farmers – especially dairy farmers – find themselves facing financial difficulties today.
In his new role, Smith will do financial counseling and mediation, analyze balance sheets, look at financial statements and cash flow. “I can pretty well tell from those things whether a farm’s going to make it,” he says. “Our first goal is to keep people farming, but if that’s not possible, to help them move to a new career.”
Some might know Smith as a poet and essayist, writing about family farms and ties to the land. In “An Honest Living,” an essay published a year ago in UW-Madison’s magazine On Wisconsin, Smith reminisced about a lifetime on the farm. The Wisconsin Farm Center operates a toll-free hotline for farmers: 1-800-942-2474. (Contact: Donna Gilson, 608-224-5130)
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