Jul 26, 2014
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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

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Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

"Houseless" Farmsteads and More...

Jan 26, 2010
***Editor's Note: John's recent commentary on "houseless" farmsteads continues to generate a great deal of reaction.  We are posting his most recent comments from the January 23-24, 2010 edition of U.S. Farm Report followed by viewer input...

Farm Report Mailbag:
   I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE HELPFUL TO ADDRESS ANOTHER ISSUE RAISED BY MY COMMENTS ABOUT ABANDONED FARMSTEADS. THIS CAME IN FROM DWIGHT SHAFFER:   "I WAS HUMORED BY THE WAY JOHN TRIED TO MAKE US BELIEVE THAT THE NEIGHBORS LEAVING THE FARM WAS SOMETHING OTHER THAN "LAND HOG GREED".
   THIS IS A VALID CRITICISM, AND ONE THAT TROUBLES MORE THAN A FEW OF US. MY EFFORTS TO EXPAND OUR FARM CLEARLY MEANS ANOTHER PRODUCER WILL NOT BE FARMING THOSE ACRES. NOR DO I HIDE BEHIND THE EXCUSE EVERYBODY ELSE IS DOING IT. WE ARE NOT HERD ANIMALS. 
   FIRST, IT IS CRUCIAL TO REMEMBER THAT THE NUMBER OF FARMERS IS DETERMINED BY LANDOWNERS - NOT OPERATORS. HOWEVER GREEDY I MAY BE, I REQUIRE THEIR COOPERATION FOR ME TO EXPAND.
   SECOND, ADVANCES IN PRODUCTIVITY MEAN WE CAN'T FULLY UTILIZE AS MANY FARMERS AS BEFORE. EFFORTS TO SPREAD OUT THE WORK IN OTHER INDUSTRIES HAVE NOT BEEN PARTICULARLY SUCCESSFUL, AT LEAST IN THE U-S.
   THIRD, OUR REVERENCE FOR MULTI-GENERATION FAMILY FARMS NECESSARILY MEANS ENTRY FOR OUTSIDERS OR SURVIVAL OF SMALLER OPERATIONS WILL BE DIFFICULT. CHILDREN OF LARGE FARMERS WILL ENJOY TREMENDOUS COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES.
   FINALLY, ONE PERSON'S GREED IS ANOTHER'S AMBITION. WHILE SOME EXCORIATE FOLKS ON WELFARE, I SEE FEW SUCH CRITICS OFFERING TO CUT BACK THEIR JOB TO MAKE ROOM FOR AN AMBITIOUS UNEMPLOYED WORKER ON THE PAYROLL.  IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD THE IDEA THERE MAY NOT BE ENOUGH WORK FOR EVERYONE IS SLOWLY GAINING A HEARING. HOW WE ALLOCATE EMPLOYMENT COULD BE THE TEST OF OUR ECONOMY IN THE FUTURE.

VIEWER REACTION:

      In a recent commentary regarding "greedy land grabbers" you mention that an established farm family will always have an advantage, especially with the decrease in farms.  While this is undoubtedly true one of the hidden dangers is that as an industry decreases in players innovations are inhibited.  It has been my observation that farmers only listen to each other and are very reluctant to accept any type of change until Homer, who farms down the road and everyone know is an idiot, prospers due to a new technology or a radical farming method.  It also seems that most farmers get their start by being born into a farm family or marrying into one, which brings me to my question:  are there any ways for a young college graduate with no family connections to start their own farm?
Sincerely,
Duane Rowlson
Wyoming, Michigan


Dear John,
   Carried to its logical conclusion, your argument sounds like justification to remove all constraints against allowing Shell Oil, Walmart, Total, or Toyota from taking over agricultural production -- as if there is zero value to society in having many families on smaller farms, supporting rural towns, schools, and churches.
Van


John,
   I have watched your comments about larger farms and fewer farmers, I'm 73 years old and still farm our small farm,I have seen many farmers hang it up and rent out their farms to the "big guy", I have also seen our small towns die, equipment dealers close up and chain store convenience stores drive out the family filling stations, livestock sale barns close,small hog producers go out of business, just to name a few all in the name of your so called "progress",look at the bigger picture and you can see this is not progress, it would be a lot better to have twenty farm families out on 500 acres each than one corporate farmer farming ten thousand acres,we need to work on finding ways to do this.
Al Barclay
Woodward, Iowa


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COMMENTS (1 Comments)

Frank
John I agree with Van.Has John,s world changed that much that you are in agrement with those who not so many years ago.You said were not looking out for the best interest of government or agriculture and local communitys?
11:48 AM Jan 25th
 

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