Take it from an expert — you are not to blame for the financial problems you are experiencing as a result of falling milk prices. 

“You aren’t doing anything wrong, and there is not a lot you can do to fix the situation,” attorney John Baker told those attending a dairy financial workshop in Nashua, Iowa, on Tuesday.

In fact, he pointed out to the producers in the audience, “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t good managers." The bad managers got washed out in the 1980s when land values took a tumble. The folks who are left in farming in Iowa are among the best in the world, he said.

Baker works with the Iowa Concern Hotline, where people can call in and seek advice on legal, financial and emotional problems.

These are stressful times for a lot of people, he said. Stress can make it difficult for people to concentrate, process information, make decisions and communicate. Stress can be a source of conflict.

Conflict is not necessarily harmful. It is how we deal with conflict that can make it harmful or destructive, Baker says. For instance, some people may avoid contact with a person if they owe that person money.

Yet, he adds, “one of the best things you can do is stay in contact with creditors so they know what is going on in your operation.” Furthermore, when working with creditors, be proactive, not reactive, he says. Take the lead in seeking a solution, including any ideas you have for mediating the debt. And, be flexible. Be willing to “give” in order to “get.”    

When problems arise, Baker suggests using the S.O.C.S. model to find solutions:

Situation. Define the situation from many perspectives — financial, legal, social, emotional, personal and family. How many ways can you look at this?

Options. Explore at least two options, but it even better if you can throw out as many options as possible. Do not reject an option at this point.

Consequences. List the positive and negative consequences associated with each option.

Solution. Select the option that has the best outcome.

You are probably getting tired of all of the bad news out there. I won’t dwell on this any more other than to say we have a crisis management resource center at www.dairyherd.com/crisis that may be of help. — Thomas Quaife, editor