Not Easy Being A Small Farmer

Over the past few days I’ve traded a few emails with a young farmer. (He also has another job in agriculture, one in which he works closely with other farmers, and doesn’t want to be identified publicly.)

Though he loves farming, the young producer is frustrated by high land prices and operating costs. He says he’d love to rent more land and expand, but doesn’t have a realistic chance of doing so because of competition from big, established farmers.

I wasn’t surprised by anything in his emails. Farming operations continue to get bigger, increasingly putting small producers at a disadvantage. It’s not my place to say whether  that’s good or bad, but clearly the trend exists

The young farmer’s emails, however, lead me to make this offer: If you’re a small farmer who would like to visit, on the record, about your challenges and frustrations (and  satisfactions, too) drop me a line.

2 Responses

  1. Steve

    With the amount of capital it takes to be a farmer, I’m not sure even if highly skilled can make it work. Competing against better financed and larger rivals for land etc. it’s a tough row to hoe. Excuse the pun.

  2. noblindersome

    I am NOT a young farmer , but I am glad you are having this discusssion with one. I will be interested in the followups.
    I am in my 60’s and I guess ‘experience’ of a long career in ag has crept up on me. I have noticed many young farmers settling into my community too. Most of these are guys who left to go away , get a ag related education , found they loved it but also found the pull of family and the love of independence that a farm life gives us , very strong.
    These young farmers are deeply connected to the generational family they come from , but I noticed they base much of their plans and goals on the here and now. That is hardly relevatory news , why should they be focused on the past like us ‘old guys’.
    They operate in a farm economy that we dreamed of! High prices that could be had if we just had good crops too! High tech equipment that was always in our future and now no longer seems to be a “Jetson’s-like” fantasy. Computers and GPS changing the whole field.
    I personally find it great , but cynically wonder what will happen when the ‘bubble’ breaks. Will it break? The young farmer has little need to cozy up to the ‘government ‘ and the safety nets that got us through all the turmoil and hardships of the 70’s , 80’s etc’.
    I would like to know if they realize that and if they harbor a desire to ‘get the government out of our lives’, that will comprimise the situation when times aint so good.
    I hope times always will be good for them. The promise was there for us/me , but it never happened til now. a good partnership with the’ bad-old government’ sure helped get us through. I’d like to know if today’s young farmer still understands that they need that good partner .

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