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Senior Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers toughguy

I failed to explain myself thoroughly. I didn't mean that you presently have a bad attitude. Not at all. I just don't want your attitude corrupted by incorrect advice.

 

Most pointedly the idea that landowners are driven by greed and unfairly treat tenants. They are businessmen that are running their business to their own advantage, Something every business man does. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant. Both businessmen.

 

If you think a landowner demands too much, decline the offer but be grateful for the offer anyway because he at least gave you consideration. If you have a lease terminated do not burn any bridges. End the partnership with grace and civility.

 

 

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers toughguy

And if you aren't that big of a farmer, and have more spare time than the BTOs, point that out to the landlord, and offer that maybe you can swap off a little work, towards your rent.  The guy I rent from, can get more $$$ per acre, from the local BTO, than I can afford to pay, but every year, I fill in any little washes, upkeep the waterways and border fence, do the work myself on the pivot repair and maintanence (which saves him quite a bit on service calls, some years). 
Many, if not most of the farmers worked hard for their land, and they want a fair rent, but may be happy with less than the very top dollar, if they know the land is being well cared for.  After all, they put a lot of their life into building their farm into what it is.

I don't know your locations, maybe where you are, there are no pivots, and washes are not an issue, but just throwing a few ideas out there.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

Thes 127 acres of 'field' require folding, and unfolding the planter a minimum of 5 times, when traveling from one to the other (not counting transport to and from my place).  In one case, you have to drive about a mile, through a pasture trail where you can't go much over walking speed, just to get to the other field, the corner of which is less than 100 yards from the corner of the field you just came from.  Either that, or go out to the road, and drive about 4 1/2 miles to get to the other field off the road from the far side.  As my dad says, his place is the perfect farm for 4-row machinery.  I went through part of Iowa once, and couldn't get over how 'level' everything is, compared to here.  Just look on a TOPO map of Custer County Nebraska, if you want to see a lot of little fields scattered about on the little level spots, surrounded by hills and canyons.

Like I said, the BOTs will likely never run me out of there, simply because their machinery can't fit through the gates, and because of the time it takes going from field to field.  Heck, one field is about 1/4 mile long, and 16 rows wide on one end, and 20 rows wide on the other, with one side straight, and the other following a terrace.  Not very condusive to 24 row machinery.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

Some of the BTO's in my area are getting bigger and bigger but they are trashing their good name to do it. If there is a collapse of prices in the near future some of these guys will have to downsize. Farming for the subsidy $$$ will be a thing of the past soon so getting every last acre may not be as attractive once the price of corn falls. Farming from the bottom up all the way to full time farming without family help is near impossible these days. Land has always been hard to come by but now we are in a completely different ball game. With interest rates next to nothing the rich farmers in certain parts of the country can afford to pay a million dollars for a chunk of ground even if its not worth half that just because they can make more in land than the bank could pay in interest. A young guy cannot compete with this.

 

With all of this said I would still encourage your young guy to farm. Make sure he is getting involved with farming because he loves it rather than trying to make a full time job out of it or become rich doing it.... A good chance neither will happen. If I had listened to a couple people who called me a fool when I got started I may have lost a real love in my life.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

I have read your posts on this "niche" with interest.  Growing up in VA and farming there with very irregularly-shap fields all my life, I was taken aback when the NRCS made waterways that zigzagged throughour fields in NC, instead of following a more natural countour. 
When I asked the director who drew them, he explained that he sort of squared them off that way as they grpgressed across the fields, for eight-row planters and harvesters. 

 

This guy also taught me about soil and water conservation on flat, poorly-drained land.  Strategies here include field borders, waterways, etc., where we had dealt for forty years with HEL and terraces.  What we finally agreed upon was that good conservation is easily overlooked, if the job is done right...there is nothing to draw your eye and makje you shake your head over waste from flooding or erosion. 

 

He explained that this area is woods where the ground would not support a mule and plow.  On slightly higher elevations, we have generations of fields that were abandoned as equipment got bigger and heavier.  So, trees are successively bigger in fields, stepping downgrade towards the woodland. 

 

We stop at about 125-150 hp tractors, as anything larger is overkill for haying equipment.  As long as we are grassfarmers, the land that is open now will likely stay that way.  Funny how small differences m,ake for such large ones, isn't it?

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Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

not all of us are in your utopia mr kraft. i farm with 4-row equipment myself.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

This reminds me of my old neighbor that used to farm in southern Iowa. He said he had to quit farming because his cows kept falling out of the pasture.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

There were several parts of Mike's farm in VA where it was really too steep for grazing, so I would say, "It can happen!:

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Honored Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

I remember the first time this flatlander went through iowa and saw the cattle on hills and thought, being pretty young, they had to have shorter legs on one side.

Then I went back in my 20's and those hillsides were mostly planted to corn.  And the hogs had been moved indoors.

One of those technical changes that brought on the concentration of livestock in larger operations.

 

Always bothers me when I here someone blast the big operators in any part of our business.  Chickens, hogs, cattle,hay, grain, dairy---all have gone through some amazing technological changes.  One of the inevitable results of that is the economy of scale along with the other improvements.

Even a cellphone makes production easier and more effecient.  From manure management to personal safety and everything inbetween, we are more productive, cleaner, better time managers, and safer than generations before.  Our children have the freedom to persue careers in and outside of agriculture without the burdon of the family farm unless they choose(not always true in past generations).  One of my sons came back to farming after teaching 6 years.  He has been temporarily overwhelmed by the changes since he left. 

As farmers we need to look to the past, but we cannot afford to live in it.

 

Are fewer entities(businesses) producing more Ag products?------------absolutely--------we share the same changes as every other part of our economy.  The natural outcome of technological development.

 

Are there still interesting and challenging careers in production Ag? --------absolutely-----many-----and all better than 75 years back.  

 

Is it difficult to see how we fit into the future in the midst of change?---------------absolutely-----Ag is continually changing, if we fail to see the change we risk our future in Ag.

 

 

 

 

 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Decline of farmers

Your reply reminds me of the proverb about "never stepping in the same river twice."   We all think that things sit sort of unchanged while we go off an do other things, while they are, of course, evolving in our absence. 

 

I alway suggest to people that they try a temporary shift, before returning permanently, to a place or activity they enjoyed in their youth.  They will always recall the rosier asepcts, and many of those may have been lost in transition. 

 

Then , too, we change and grow.  Going back to the huge halls of my childhood elementary school, many years later as a teacher, I was shokced at how small they really were.  This is, certaonly, one reason for goign off into the wider world for a while...to gain broader perspective.  Probably pertinent to the college majors thread, but that is one reason that any education outside of the home environment is necessary and desireable. 

 

If perception is reality - and, to a large extent, it is - we must accept that any alteration in our perceptive abilities creates an alteration in our idea of fact and truth.  I could say, for example, that my need for bifocals now is a detriment; but, without them, i cannot see a lot of minor flaws in things, that used to drive me to distraction...so, less perfect vision is not necessarily a bad thing, overall. 

 

A lot of "problems" are a matter of our ability to measure them.  We used to worry about parts per million of pollutants, and now we talk parts per billion.  Hoiw you measure things matters, a lot.

 

I wonder, and have never really researched this question: How many actually commercail faremrs were at work in past generations, comapred to today?  A lot of people farmed at - or very near - subsistence levels.  Is this really "farming" in the modern sense of producing commodities for sale? 

 

If you count all today's farm employees, and place them instead of the rural residents who raised their own food and didn't have much beyond that to sell, I wonder if our numbers have really diminished as much as rumored.  The definition of farming has changed as much as anything I can imagine...it is a decidedly different river than it used  to be.   

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