May 12, 2011
Down on the farm planting corn and soybeans -– that’s where I was this week. After a month of rain, it finally dried up, and the corn is in the ground now.
I have farmer friends in the eastern Corn Belt that can’t get anything done – it’s just too wet. I really feel sorry for those that are flooded along the Mississippi River.
Anyway, as I watched our 32-row corn planter eat up the acres, I couldn’t help but recall as a boy watching my father plant our corn with two old horses pulling a two-row planter. He planted 100 acres of corn in a week. We just planted 2,400 acres of corn in a week.
When I was a boy, we didn’t have chemicals to control weeds. We "checked" our corn, which required a wire stretched from one end of the field to the other. The wire had clips every 42 inches which triggered the seed to drop. That made it possible to cultivate the field, not only with the row, but also to cross the field. Weeds were a terrible problem and this helped. Our yields were less than one-quarter of what they are today. Farming is not the same.
Today, we have better seeds, better machinery, better crop protection. And we have fewer farmers. We are so efficient. We don’t need the labor. Some will criticize modern agriculture as "factory farming." You can call it what you want, but it is progress. We make fewer trips across the field, we use less fuel. We use less labor. And we get much better yields. Perhaps the factory comparison is not all wrong. Our factories in this country employ fewer workers and put out more cars and tractors with much less labor. That just frees up more people to work on the Internet or something else.
Just think about this. Our farmers and ranchers are competing against farms in Brazil and Europe and Russia. We have to be good or we’ll lose the race. That’s the same as our car manufacturing companies competing against Japan, Germany and Korea. It’s global competition, and we intend to win.
I’m hopeful that we’ll have a good crop this year. It’s in God’s hands now.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website, which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.