Re: Nice Topic for a board.
Shaggy----- I am afraid, until we are able to redefine ourselves in a "current day" premise, we are not going to be a comfortable place that attracts young people.
We continue to view ourselves, and expect our young farmers to view themselves, as homesteaders; sacraficing personal to gain equity. Taking risks that are crushing for a large % at some point.
Farming has a dismal history for most independant small farms, we have to ask ourselves why we expect our young to want this occupation when we have been watching failure pass us by ------- what was the last years of population growth in agriculture???
Most of the midwest population came from the homesteaders. We all have a glossy memory of those folks. But they, for the most part, had nothing to loose, starving in other parts of the world. Today even the temps that come here to work the harvests come from countries with better social safety nets than the US. For the immigrants It was an opportunity for a safer home in a freer environment, not a good career. Why do we expect our young to live that way------ if you don't think we do, look at a few of the contracts and leases within families. Where the older ones expect the younger to pay the going rate on land and rent and will blame their own for not financing their retirements. When the elder ones acquired it for pennies on those dollars.
But beyond the petty issues, We have this "family farm" picture in our minds that needs to go away. It did for me in 1968, when my dad said "farming in changing from an existance to a business. Get an education that benefits our business, or whatever business you end up in."
There are good and interesting careers in agriculture and It irks me when i see young guys ignore them to live a life of indebtedness and risk, thinking that is what a "real" farmer does.
Re: Nice Topic for a board.
SW and Shaggy,
I believe the key to this is paying the farmer enough to justify growing a crop. In my business we do this by matching companies like bakeries and fast food franchises to particular grower(s). They get to know one another or at least know the other exists. I fully explain the finances of a particular product to both parties. In this manner we have successfully been able to pay the grower much more than the going rate for their crops. It does, however, require some participation on the part of the grower.
Chipotle restaurant chain is now buying Oregon grown flour made from a new variety of Hard White Wheat and milled at a local flour mill we helped finace in 2010. This is millions of lb. of flour.
Likewise, several bakeries are suppplied with whole wheat flour from Oregon and Washington farms.
We support 4 Idaho dry bean growers in a similar fashion as well as a Colrado grower that supplies our millet.
My company will of course never solve the world's problems; but if more companies conducted business like this, farm income would be more secure in my opinion.
Farming is and should be a respectable way to make a living. My goal is to keep it that way in any small way I can by taking care of my own back yard.
When food becomes faceless, the customer will simply want the lowest price.
That's my 2 cents.