A Viewer Speaks: Upset about Exports
Oct 18, 2011
Sunday morning, at the end of "U.S. Farm Report," you talked abut the importance of maintaining the infrastructure that allows us to get grain to ports for overseas shipment. While nobody would disagree with that editorial, I have the opinion that we are making a big mistake in shipping our production overseas mostly as grain.
In the late '40s and early '50s, there would be a line of trucks zigzagging through the parking lot of the administration building of Peoria Union Stock Yard waiting to unload cattle and hogs. That is, a considerable percentage of our production in central Illinois left the farm as live animals rather than as grain. Some of those animals were butchered a block or two away in Peoria and left the city as processed meat. Chicago was known as the hog butcherer of the world. Going back to the years through WWII, our farm of about a quarter section of bottomland and river bluff had chickens, a few milk cows, beef cows, hogs and sheep plus the work horses.
That this vertical integration has left the state is a huge mistake. It has never made any sense to me to be shipping our grain out of the area and shipping phosphorus and potash in to make up for the nutrients removed by the grain when we could still be feeding out livestock on the farm where the grain was raised.
Likewise, the risk to the farmer was spread by raising livestock instead of only corn and soybeans. Employment was year-round rather than a couple of months in the spring and a couple of months in the fall.