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Agriculture's Big Picture


AgWeb Editor Greg Vincent takes a big-picture look at agriculture and current events.

Spring Issue Reader Feedback

Apr 21, 2009
This is a sampling of the opinions I've received about the Family...By Invitation article in theSpring issue of Top Producer.

Cast your vote on the concept with our Reader Poll

I think that it’s real interesting concept. I think that it will take away from entrepreneur part of farming which make us a group strong and engaged. The strong are going to be there in the end with or without this concept.
It has been option that Top Producer has put a lot into Rosentreter. I for one am tired of about him and all of the things that he is doing. I am TEPAP member and don’t really think that Danny Klinefelter is on the same page as Mr. Lash. 
After having read your article, I wonder where are the police. Tactics like this made Al Capone rich. It looks to me like they are running a protectionism racket. "If you sign up and pay us money we won't put any one else in you area. And by the way, you also have to purchase several other services from us"
If they are so concerned about keeping family farmers on their farms, then why don't they quit trying to rent everybody out? The biggest problem the family farmer has is some out fit coming in and promising cash rents at unsustainable high levels. It puts another farmer out of business, mines the ground, and destroys a community. But boy the farm managers sure fall for it. But then they get their cut off the top.
We have just gone through this with the big banks and Wall Street and it appears we have not learned any thing. Bigger is not better. We just had one 20,000-acre farmer go bust paying high rents hopefully the trend will continue. It would be better for the land, the suppliers and the communities.
Jerry Thomas
The family farms label is more than a misnomer in name. I never got the connection between family and what they are doing. In fact I’m sure some higher institution will someday do a study on the impact of IFF and Rick’s crew to measure how many families they drove off the landscape as operators and converted to laborers. The Lash model is an aggressive business management strategy that puts profit and bragging rights at the forefront. I don’t disagree with their abilities and mandate to grow as they see fit, but hiding beneath the family farm banner is not right. Call it a for-profit business and be done with it.
I also take exception to their motivation to the public relations side of the business. I question if it's a cornerstone value of their model or just a cost of doing business. You are aware of our partnership’s belief that as farm size grows, the need to be involved in our communities grows exponentially. Based on the community involvement in most mega farms, does this mean that agricultures historical baseline contribution to sustaining our community and industry was near zero?  I think not!
Many traditional farm units helped sustain our communities and industry beyond their means. As we become successful larger business units, our responsibilities grow.  

I just returned from a fundraising event for a local school. There were several area farms represented as supporters for this event, some at a higher financial level. Noticeably absent from attendees or supporters were two of our local areas most visible growing grain farms. I don’t think this lack of representation is responsible.
Lash and his disciples (we have used the accounting system for decades) are very focused on the number of acres farmed as a badge of honor. Nowhere have I heard mention of growth in revenue per acre from better marketing, or lowering cost of production, or those 9 letter dirty words diversity and livestock.  The economic and farm market cycle that we have experienced in the past year should have reinforced the need for balance in any business model.
I have had many the opportunity to meet and have conversations with all of the people named in the article (and possibly some of the unnamed ones) except Rich Killam. I thoughts Rich’s comments were valid and I would welcome the chance to find out more from him.

It seems ironic that Dave Kohl was quoted on page 11 of this issue reminding us of the tendency to load up on overhead during good times. Could it be that the huge advantage of being able to leverage overhead on larger farms gets swallowed up by the Lash network costs?
Anonymous in Minnesota
Nice concept for those who are really BIG PLAYERS in agriculture!  Might fit for 1 or 2 per cent of farmers with really big bank accounts and wanting someone else to tell you how to think.
Jay & Phyllis Wissler
Danville, PA
I'm very disappointed your magazine gave them any recognition. They are taking farms from families that have farmed it for 30 or more years by offering amounts of cash rent that are ridiculous.
I for one hope they go broke before they break the honest guy trying to make it in the farming world. If the company makes a profit of $1, $5, $10,???/acre on 30,000 acres, does that mean they are successful? This is nothing but greed at its purest form when you take from others to fill your own pockets. 
They should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done to hard working farmers and Top Producer should never have given them the publicity.       
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9:21 PM May 21st
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