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JimMeade
Veteran Advisor

Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

As long as I can remember, farms have consolidated as smaller holdings couldn't support the family or the family couldn't compete.  I don't remember any 40 acre farms, but like many of you I remember 80 acre farms and 160s were typical.  Farms of this size before birth control meant a lot of people per square mile and that meant villages, towns, churches and school.  As the farm size escalated and after the pill, there became fewer people per square mile and villages went away.  Town grew stagnant.  

 

The reduction of people meant the change in a way of life.  

 

Now farms are getting even bigger, need fewer people and fewer towns to support them, Amazon and UPS are faster than going to the hardware store in the next county and when is the last time you went to a social event in your county that was not a school or maybe church activity?

 

Times are changing.  Kids are not wanting to stay on the farm.  The "way of life" is altering.

 

Yet, much of what we do and say in rural America has to do with maintaining a myth.  We're trying to live a legend.  It's as if we really believe Roy Rogers and John Wayne were real cowboys and we want to be like them.

 

Real cowboys were not action-movie heroes and you probably didn't want your daughter to marry one.

 

Courrier and Ives and American Gothic farmers probably never existed and they sure don't today.

 

Farmers these days don't want to take risks.  They want me to provide a safety net so they can live the lifestyle they chose.  Look at Germany.  That's the way the German farmers have it.  Of course there are a few controls and they gripe about that.

 

I have to confess I don't think I owe the dry-cleaner, grocer, truck driver, saddle maker or tie-dyer a way of life and I don't think you owe me one either.

 

So I could really care less about the farm bill.

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7 Replies
WCMO
Senior Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

Competitively, most small farmers would likely be better off in the long run if there were no farm program and no federal crop insurance.  Unless and until meaningful limitations are put in place, those who have the most to gain, also have the most to lose.  A farmer who farms 5000 acres might be able to live off the first 500 and use the rest to pay for more land and newer equipment.  A farmer who farms 500 acres is using the total for everything, and/or has off-farm income.  Perhaps we would be better off, as would our small towns and businesses, if we had 5-6 farmers farming every 5500 acres, instead of 2.  At least, we don't need the USDA pushing it the other way (using public money).  And, to the extent this has happened, perhaps they/we do owe small farmers and rural America businesses something.

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

For one thing farm programs don't support a standard of living. Farm programs are cheap food policy. We shouldn't have to support welfare mothers or widening I -80 to 6 lanes either, but we do. It's the whole Butterfly Effect thingy.
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clayton58
Veteran Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

We individually and collectively demand,use, and benefit from infrastructure. Not so much welfare queen moms. But who wouldn’t like and maybe benefit from more Mom and Pop grocery stores. Maybe we should subsidize them? Ya know the whole Food Desert thingy
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k-289
Senior Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

Widening  to  6  lanes being partially  paid at the pump ,  to give the contractor a way of life , I guess - - -

 

AmaZingly we have to send the fuel tax $$$$ to the east coast , and then send them back at a discounted rate for management fee$ - - -

 

Who knew it would be so complicated - - -

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rsbs
Veteran Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

good , thoughtful post.

 

My idea of a successful farm operation, from my thoughts three decades ago, would be a 300-500 acre operation, with a small cow herd, and enough money to buy decent equipment sized to run it.

 

Somehow, today, that model doesn't work anymore, with margins razor thin, having to truck products to terminal markets, buy inputs wholesale etc. Also equipment costs and availability factor in....I bought the smallest New Holland combine available a few years ago, and it was a 8 row 400 plus HP machine.

 

Just like Walmart took over retail, so have bigger farms taken over the rural landscape. But you are right, the government should not have facilitated this.

BA Deere
Honored Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

You know, it`s funny around here Walmart stores close and or move into a super duper-mega Walmart, but in the old "small" Walmart, a Bomgaars farm supply store opens that caters to smaller farmers.   And it seems the Bomgaars always have plenty of vehicles in the parking lot.  The "mom & pop" grocery, nick nack stores are replaced with the "Dollar General".  When I was a kid, I heard of Dollar General advertising on the Grand Ol Opry that Dad used to listen to, but never actually been in one until about 20yrs ago.   But the "successful" midwestern small town these days is: a Dollar General, a Caseys gas station and a Bomgaars...you have all 3, that`s about the best you can hope for these days.

 

When I was a kid (in the 70s, 80`s) a successful small town had a Implement dealer, hog buying station, maybe a sale barn, 3 hardware stores, 5 cafes, 4 full service gas stations.  The thing is back then, that money circulated in the community and everyone prospered.  Today, if you shop at Dollar General you help the minimum wage clerks, the guy that owns the store but lives in Minneapolis and the Dollar General company stock owners on Wall Street.  Not saying it`s bad bad bad, they saw a niche and filled it in small communities and if they didn`t move in the people in town would have to drive 30 miles for a gallon of milk.  But ideally a well known and liked family owned a grocery store for generations, hired high school kids (often paid more than they were worth) delivered groceries to elderly so they could stay in their home "one more year".  

 

I guess I`ve lived long enough and seen "progress" and still would like to jump in a time machine and set the dial back 35 years.

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sw363535
Honored Advisor

Re: Do I Owe You A Way Of Life?

It is never you who owes anyone a way of life these days.
That’s called lack of responsibility.
The problem is a society based on currency instead of courtesy. Profiteering rather than public service. Investments that pay like lotteries rather than build a future for generations. Government funding rather than leadership.
And a population that thinks it’s government can borrow trillions—hand it to its citizens— and correct these problems.
It’s called an addiction and renewed public poverty will probably cure it.
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