Every two weeks I write a check from our S corporation account to myself for wages. I place that check on my dashboard where it sits until I make it to town during banking hours.
During harvest, it may take weeks to get to the bank. During summer, the check sometimes flies out the window into the hay field. I could mail it, but the last time I mailed a check to the bank it took 11 days to travel 20 miles. Where’s the Pony Express when you need it?
The solution? Direct deposit. The accountant assured me that direct deposit would fix all our problems. I also thought it was a wonderful idea — that is, until I announced it to my parents and staff that we were going paperless. The backlash was fierce: How would they get cash? How would they know when the money was deposited into their accounts?
Contrary to popular belief, the baby boomer employees welcomed direct deposit more openly than the millennials.
Go with the flow
Going paperless on the farm was harder than I thought. Change causes problems, even if it’s for the farm’s best interest. I can’t imagine the uproar that happened when great-grandpa switched from horses to tractors. When farmers chose tractor horses over real horse power, they increased efficiency but displaced millions of men in the workforce. But there’s no chance our farm would have survived without making that transition to tractors.
More recently, auto-steer caused problems. Even though it helped with efficiency, people didn’t want to learn how to use it. It took a few years to get everyone on board, but now I can’t imagine farming without it. And those people who refused to use it at first? They can’t live without it either.
Each generation faces change. I can see the next change headed our way — the self-driving tractor. Even though I consider myself open-minded, I’m very skeptical of a self-driving tractor working on our farm. I know it’s happening in other places. I also know something like that would ease our labor burden in coming years.
I never thought that starting direct deposit for wages would rock the boat so much. It’s something so easy and common, and the thought of doing something big like using a driverless tractor with the grain cart causes me stress to think about it.
Change unsettles not only the farm owners, but also the entire cast of characters on the farm. But as history has shown, we need to make changes in our business, or that business may cease to exist.
Cox farms with her father, Ethan, in White Hall, Ill.