South Carolina Case Study: The Flintstone Farm

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1 South Carolina Case Study: The Flintstone Farm Fred and Wilma Flintstone have been farming for 30 years, and live in an old house on the farm. They have three adult children: Barney, Ralph, and Carolyn. Barney and his wife Betty also farm with Fred and Wilma, but live in town in a rented house, but would like to someday move to the farm and build a house. Betty works for the school district as a teacher s aide and has full benefits. Betty is expecting their first child. Ralph is recently divorced, has two young sons, and works as a mechanic in town. He helps maintain and repair the farm equipment, and helps out on the farm on weekends and during planting and harvest. He loves to hunt and train bird dogs. He would like to begin raising quail for release on the farm for hunting and for training dogs. Carolyn is a junior in college at South Carolina State University, majoring in elementary education. She is single, but has a serious boyfriend who loves to be around the family. He is studying to be an architect. Carolyn loves to visit the farm and would like to live in the country, but has no interest in agriculture. Fred and Wilma bought the farm from Wilma s uncle (now deceased) on contract because they were unable to get other financing. They are still making payments to Wilma s two cousins. Some of the farm is heir property and some has a clear title. They also lease some land from an elderly widow. She has grandchildren who live in the area and who have expressed an interest in selling the farm once it is theirs. The Flintstones own some pasture land, but lease most of their pasture from Ralph s exfather-in-law. The farm is located five miles from town and when they first moved there 30 years ago they were truly in the country. However, a main county road intersects the farm and several homes (small lifestyle farms) have sprung up along the road. Three of these new neighbors are directly across the road from the corn/soybean field. Rumor has it that the County may widen the road and/or need to run additional water, Gas and Telephone lines through the farm to accommodate the increased population. The acreage they farm is in four different fields and they have to move equipment from field to field along the county road. The pasture they lease is also along the county road. The fence is 20 years old, and when the wind blows it is not uncommon to have trees and limbs fall and damage the fence. The landlord is not interested in repairing the fence himself. To finance their dream of moving to the farm and building a house, Barney and Betty need to increase their income, and reduce some high credit card debt that has prevented them 1

2 from getting financing to help with new enterprise expansion. Barney would like to try growing mushrooms in an old chicken coop on the farm, but has no experience with mushrooms. They have signed-up for the EQIP Program through NRCS to get cost-share funding (90%) to put up a high tunnel hoop house with the hope of growing some high value vegetables, or nursery crops. Because of the high traffic on the road by the farm, they think a roadside stand may workout as well. The Flintstones sell their calves a few at a time at the local sales barn, but the volume of sales at the auction barn have decreased significantly the last few years and consequently the number of buyers has also significantly decreased. Rumors are that the auction barn may close if volume decreases much more. Calves are sold when bills are due, and frequently they have to sell some calves before they are at weaning weight. Due to several dry years the pastures have been overgrazed and now more weeds are replacing native grasses. Fred thinks maybe adding some goats would help control the weeds. The Flintstones grow some vegetables purple hull peas, greens (mustard, turnip, collard,) squash, sweet potatoes, watermelon and sell at a local Farmer s Market. They want to sell to Wal-Mart, but are concerned about meeting the requirements to become GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certified. They would like to increase their vegetable acreage, and are also considering pumpkins. They purchase crop insurance for their corn and soybeans, but only at the Catastrophic (CAT) level of coverage. Fred would like to add more irrigation once they pay off the farm to Wilma s cousins. He applied for an FSA loan for irrigation some years ago, but was denied. Their equipment is old and mostly depreciated out for tax purposes, but Ralph has done a good job of keeping it working. The house needs a new roof and Fred plans to do it himself, but going up and down a ladder is more of a challenge as he gets older. Wilma had knee replacement surgery three years ago, and Fred worries that he may be headed that way himself before too long. Barney and Betty have mostly good health, are hard workers and very capable of taking on more responsibility; however Fred still makes all of the major management decisions himself. 2

3 The purpose of this case farm activity is for you to conduct a risk assessment of the Flintstone Farm business. As you discuss the Flintstone family and their farm, list all of the risks (and potential risks) you can identify that they are faced with. Be as descriptive as possible. There are no right or wrong answers here. Identify the risks by type (P=production, M=marketing, F=financial, H=human resource, L=legal), by circling the corresponding letter(s). Remember that some risks can easily be identified in more than one category. Also sort the risks as to frequency (how often they happen), and severity (degree of negative impact on the business) by checking the appropriate box. As you think about these risks, jot down any ideas that may come to mind as possible solutions you could give to the Flintstone family. Potential Solutions: 3

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