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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

The last farmer....

Had our county Extension Advisory Leadership meeting this morning.  The agents adn their staff make a great breakfast buffet, adn invite us in to updtae quarterly their programs, and ask for what we need to see in the way of support next quarter and beyond. 

 

I usually ask the livestock agent to supply enough recertification horus for hog farmers on their manure applicators permits, discuss stuff like parasite contorl in snmall ruminants, and such. 

 

Today, we got into forage management, and I gave him some of the best names in the business, out of VA.  We talked about parasite controls, from meds to FAMACHA to altenative forages...he'd gotten a grant to establish some lespedeza for a goat producer.  I told him it was good forage, but doesn't like our drainage.  Only good lespedeza we've ever grown in annual, either Kobe of Korean, anyway.  So, someone will get a good seeding for one year. 

 

I suggested doing some creep grazing, which he had never heard of...simple system, easy to leave off a bottom strand of  electric wiere, and let the babies go under to graze the best stuff first.   :Lots of things I have seen at conferences, some of which works well, some which doesn't...real world v. theory. 

After leaving, I realized that, since one other hog/cattle guy who used toe there with us pssed away a couple of years ago, I am the only one at his breakout sessions, after the overall meetings. 

 

I am not the last livestock producer, but getting damned close to it.  In the geneal meeting roday, when the acting county director mentioned that he had scheduled the tobacco priduction meeting for a certian date, someone mentioned that " the tobacco farmer' was absent today. 

 

We are down to one tobacco producer in the whole county now, and a list of local family farmers who grow hogs ( as contractors for Smithfield) that I can count on the fingers of one hand now.  The numbers of peanut growers are shrinking precipitously, too. 

 

I believe we will see the advent of the last farmer in this county, at least in several commodities, in my lifetime...and sixty isn't that far away for me.... 

 

Anyone the last farmer in your area?

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9 Replies
smokeyjay
Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

We have plenty of farmers.  Dairies are getting fewer to a half dozen or so.  Hog farmers are down to a hand full as well.  As for crop farmers, we've got tons of them.

 

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

Zero dairy for ages here...kmow one family that " used to be". Their kids are forties and up, and none farm, I am pretty sure. Being the last of anything is harder in some ways than being the first, I think....
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Roy_Smith
Frequent Contributor

Re: The last farmer....

I did a meeting for FSA In Concord, New Hampshire in 2011. There were two CED's at the meeting. Each talked about "their farmer". On the same trip I also did one in Conneticut.  There are a few farmers left in that state, but not very many. Very little ag infrastructure left in New England. ...Soyroy 

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nwobcw
Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

   Only 1 dairy and 1 hog feeding operation within 20 or 30 miles that I know of.   There's a handful of us small cattle feeders and 1 relatively large 1.   Farmers have went all in on crop farming but most are part timers except for retireees.   I only can think of maybe 4 full time farmers in the area under 55.

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gif4445
Contributor

Re: The last farmer....

So if I got this right, two FSA county directors have one farmer each?  While in my area, we have consolidation of two counties because one only has 256 entities that received some subsidy payments(2010)?  (Used this criteria because it was easy to find on the web)

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

No dairy farms left in the county.

While there are still quite a few hogs grown around here, I was probably one of the last 4-5 independant in the whole county.  I only know of one that is left, and he only has 4 sows.  Just keeps them around for eating, and sells them one by one to the local meal locker, for butchering.  I don't know if there are any independant hog farmers anymore, that raise hogs commercially.  I remember visiting with the other hog guys, and it was a 'race to the finish' to see who would be the last to sell a commercial hog.

Only one goat farmer in the county I am aware of, but there are 2-3 in the next county over.

Cow-calf people are getting rarer, as well.  I find it amusing that the 'yearling guys' are taking over rents from cow-calf guys (the last 3-4 years they could pay rents for grassing yearlings that I could only dream of paying for a cow-calf pair) which caused breeding stock to be sold off somewhat, and are now complaining how pricey calves are.  On the other hand, I have 15% less cows, but get the same check when I sell calves, and less rent so I guess it works out OK.

What really worries me, are all the farmers over 60, and quite a few were talking retirement, but with high prices suddenly decided to buy a new combine, and go a 'few more years'.  Some of them are well established, with land paid for, and they are  running up rent to the point us little guys don't stand a chance.  If they run us out of business, who will be farming their land when they are 80?

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

SHHHHHH! This is starting to sound like the Postal Service discussion....
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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

Surprised you have any of either, since there are so few. The infrastructure specific to production and moving products to market is usually the first thing to go. The costs to buy what you need and sell what you raise get more problematic with distance, factored over things like that diesel price spike noted elsewhere here. Tobacco markets and peanut buying stations are fast becoming things of the past here. Small stockyards likewise. Farm supply spots are changing merchandising mix in many places...horse and hobby livestock feeds and needs, lawn and garden seed and plants and decorative yard ornaments. Tractor dealers shifting more towards small utility vehicles and small hp estate tractors. I guess this is how the dinosaurs felt, when they noticed those furry varmints starting to scurry around the landscape....
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Blacksandfarmer
Senior Advisor

Re: The last farmer....

Kay we have many farmers here. We have 2 or 3 large hog operations, one of which I work part time on.... Very few cattle guys both feeders or dairy but we have many crop farmers in my county. I think it all boils down to how much a farmer can make off an acre of ground. Here in the Midwest you might be able to raise 150 to 200+ bushel corn depending on the area and weather or raise a few head of steers. With most farmers getting older the steers are harder to raise and probably pay less so most raise corn or beans. There are quite a few contract hog and poultry guys in this area. A hog or chicken operation takes up much less space today than 20 years ago... This you already know. With a normally ample supply of corn and soybean meal here contract hog and chicken operations are fairly popular. Hog and chicken barns are even more popular these days when fertilizer prices are soo high and the grower can use the manure to supplement his fertilizer bill. I believe regional agricultural production will only increase with time. It is however sad to see some of the small cattle farms go. Now all that's left of them are big red barns with a silo or two.

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