Re: Off: The Farmer's Wife
Greg & Lei Gunthorp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thu, 24 Sep 1998 17:07:52 -0500
Tom and Dale,
Have you guys took a look at the USDA Small Farm Commission Report
entitled a Time To Act?
I personally believe we need a level playing field before we need
subsidies. And in the long term I think its going to take low cost
production systems combined with niche marketing to survive. Of course
enough equity to survive these wild commodity price swings might negate the
need for niche marketing. I'm one of the crazy ones because I still believe
its possible to make a living on the conventional markets with a very low
cost sustainable operation.
The biggest problem is that there is very few sources of information for
these low cost and low capital operations. There is also very little
meaningful research on low capital agriculture.
I'll give you a good personal example. We are raising pigs full time with
$29,000 worth of equipment on our balance sheet. This is in a day and age
when the average full time contract unit costs 1.2 million. And the
clincher is our variable costs are lower than the confinement operations
because we are using management intensive grazing.
There shouldn't be any reason that young people couldn't get started
farming without having to purchase land. In my grampa's day it was normal
to share rent livestock farms. And yes they were all pasture operations
back then. If our land grants were really wanting to help they should
foster some of the creative thinking to make some rental or share
arrangements work to allow young people to get started. Its going to take
low capital, high margin enterprises to make it work. We have to think past
corn and soybeans. Around me, hogs and milk have been the best long term
bets. Maybe vegetables are a good bet near the cities or in different
climates. Enterprise selections are important, but how many farmers look
past corn, soybeans, and John Deere. Not only is it going to take more
research and expertise to make low input SYSTEMS work, its also going to
take some good planning and forward thinking to make share or rental
arrangements work. I think we have got this idea engrained in our heads
that to farm we have to own the land. Land is actually a very poor initial
investment in farming. How many years has it been normal for farmers to
actually own the land they farmed? Nobody used to get started farming that
way. And nobody used to get started farming by spending huge amounts of
money. Maybe its one of those deals that the more things change the more
they stay the same. Do sound economic and business principles really change
much over time?
I think its going to come down to individuals creative thinking on whether
or not we end up with any small farms. I wish I could say otherwise, but I
don't believe we are going to see any government solutions.
Small Farm Commission member
Pasture Hog Farmer
From: Tom Armstrong <email@example.com>
To: Wilson, Dale <WILSONDO@phibred.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Date: Thursday, September 24, 1998 2:15 PM
Subject: RE: Off: The Farmer's Wife
>On Wed, 23 Sep 1998, Wilson, Dale wrote:
>> > We can't save the small family farm, we have to create an economic
>> > climate where it can come back.
>> What kind of interventions do you have in mind?
>> Dale Wilson
>The current trend to direct marketing, CSA's, and Farmers Markets is a
>step in the right direction. These options were not possible 10 years
>ago. I am afraid this is not enough. I believe we need (dreaded)
>subsidies geared towards helping small family farms.
>I think the ways things are done in some of the small european countries
>could serve as a model for sustainable ag in the US.
>Tom Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org Sequera Ranch s.1892 San Gregorio, CA
>Barnyard Technology--- Ideas for tomorrow -> from yesterday's scrap.
> 4th -> 5th gen. on family farm. Can Ag Sustain?
> A ghost town fights its way back.. http://www.crl.com/~toma/
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