John Block Reports from Washington
John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.
Down On The Farm
Nov 05, 2009
I was on the farm last week. It is so exciting to drive that combine and watch that big machine, like magic, sort out the kernels of corn from the trash. That golden grain flowing out of the auger into the truck is a beautiful sight.
Before starting to harvest, we sent a load of hogs to market. It’s hard to imagine those lean, hard 250-pound animals could be ready for market. Just 6 months ago, they were born weighing about 2 pounds.
Anyhow, about the time we got really rolling in the corn field, the rains came. Like they have all fall. Rained out again.
After that, I found myself sitting at my farm desk in our machinery repair building, looking out the window at the sheets of water coming from a dark sky. I began to reflect on this business of farming. You work for months to bring your grain and livestock to market. You have to do that. You need the money to pay your operating loan at the bank. You are also going to need enough money to buy nitrogen and seed for next year. Maybe a little more to live on or buy a piece of machinery you need. When you are finished with one crop, you start all over again.
I don’t need to tell you this has been a tough year for many farmers. The volatility in prices has been a challenge – wet spring, wet fall. It has never been an easy business. That’s one reason we’ve lost so many farmers. There are so many variables that we can’t control – floods, droughts, price, mad cow, swine flu, trade embargoes.
To survive in this business, you must persevere and don’t make too many mistakes. If you can succeed, the reward is not just measured in money. Although you need the money to survive. The reward is an exhilarating sense of satisfaction when you see what you have produced – mature market hogs, golden grain. And it all started early in the year when you turned the boar in with the sows, when you planted those little seeds in the soil.
Halleluiah, the sun is shining this week. We’ll get this crop out and be there for another year.
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington, D.C.