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Veteran Advisor

Perceptions of Farmers

Last night I went to see the premier of Farmland and I thought it was a great movie.  When it comes to your town, take your family and friends because it highlights the disconnect between farmers and non-farmers, almost like a civilian and a non-civilian.  Here are some of the perceptions, the trials and tribulations and some major issues the farmers are or will experience in the future, that is highlighted in the movie:

 

Issues facing Farmers:

Land and Taxes

The movie highlighted that you as a farmer must begin passing your land to your kids way before you pass away.  You must plan for this because the movie highlighted some situations that the parents passed away and the kids had to sell the property just to cover the taxes.  Please think about estate planning it will help your kids.

Next Generation

After seeing the movie it became apparent the need to bring in the next generation of farmers.  The statistic that 85-90% of ALL the US farmers are currently 60 years or older is a hard to swallow.   There needs to be more education and opportunity in agriculture for the younger generation.

 

Capital Intensive

Farming in the past was labor intensive, now it is capital intensive. Farmers bringing in all this new equipment and technology takes some getting use to.  In the past farmers would just turn on their tractors and begin their work, now they have to wait hours to have the system download the software so they may begin.  Very frustrating.  The equipment does help farmers become more efficient and can do more in less time.   But at the same time farmers are having to deal with issues that they didn’t have to before. 

 

Perceptions: Farmers are in their own world

Answer: Yes and No, although the isolation keeps them on their land and away from people, the problem is that there is very little interaction with non-farmers. Some of the farmers highlighted in the movie have set up educational programs to bring students from neighboring towns to see what farming is all about.  This helps with interaction with non-farmers and it can inspire students to take up farming.

 

Perceptions: Farmers want their kids to take up farming

Answer: No, most farmers do not want their kids to take up farming because of the uncertainty of the cash flows.  Some years you can make a lot of money but there are years that things can quickly turn south.  Most kids go off to college and do not look back to farming the family farm as an option. 

 

Perceptions: Farmers are not educated

Answer: Not true, they are some of the smartest people around having to problem solve and deal with issues everyday.  Their job is not easy.  It is mentally and, physically draining.  The movie shows that you really have to be completely invested into farming and dive in with both feet or you will not succeed. 

 

Perceptions: GMOs are bad

Answer: Not at all.  The public perception that we are using unhealthy GMO seeds for grains and feeding it to animals is not right.  The movie described that the farmer does not intentionally want to contaminate his soil, grains or livestock.  He wants to produce healthy products and livestock because he runs a business and wants to run it to the best of their ability with the best seeds and products.

 

 

Finally, the movie was very good and as a non-farmer I have a better understanding an appreciation for what you do as a farmer.  Thank You.

6 Replies
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Senior Contributor

Re: Perceptions of Farmers

Excellent post Gio

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Highlighted
Veteran Advisor

Re: Perceptions of Farmers

Thanks Slim.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Perceptions of Farmers

It would be great to get those who are not associated with agriculture to see this. I haven't seen it yet but by your post it sounds like a positive story for those of us who farm. Our problem is we have too many negative stories coming from special interest groups, the media and for the most part our locals who just hate farmers. We are a misunderstood group and stereotyped unfairly today. Being thought of as progressive and educated along with being stewards of the land we farm....that would be the perfect stereotype.....MikeM
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Honored Advisor

Re: Perceptions of Farmers

Excellent post Gio. Thanks for taking the time to post such detailed thoughts.

 

Your second point though about getting the next generation interested is pretty bogus. More of a media created legend than reality. The average age statistic is meaningless in this business. When I do a detailed look at virtually any township in Indiana for example, there are too many young farmers to be economically viable through the next down cycle.

 

The point about estate taxes is certainly true. Almost no family farm will survive if they have no comprehensive plan.

 

Not sure about waiting for the software to download...takes our Ag-Leader stuff about 90 seconds including loading the Rx applicaiton maps?

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Senior Contributor

Re: Perceptions of Farmers

I get tired of hearing about to many old farmers. Or Farmers are to old. Or however you want to spin it. I know many young guys waiting in the wings to take over from the next generation or get their chance to start on their own. plus you can farm till you die. So why retire from something you love.
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Senior Advisor

Re: Perceptions of Farmers

An estate auctioned off - settled because of estate taxes    -   I here this comment  -  have yet to see an 1 example --- a truer example of the this would be give me the easy cash ---

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