Re: Help Please@ Wheaties:Farmer 5,Tiger Wood

From: Laura K. Paine (lkpaine@facstaff.wisc.edu)
Date: Sun Jan 23 2000 - 13:22:54 EST


Hello everyone,

Greg, you're right. The 'new agriculture' needs to work not only
economically, environmentally, and socially, but also at a personal,
quality of life level. I think this is why Donna's comments didn't ring
true for me. The farmers I know, even those mega-grain farmers, work very
hard. And while I think livestock are essential to sustainable farming
systems, economically viable livestock farming creates a workload that is
overwhelming to most farm families. In a recent survey here in Wisconsin,
dairy farmers reported an average work week of about 75 hours. Farmers who
had converted to grass-based dairying (rotational grazing) had a reduced
workload, but it was still well over 60 hours per week. I figure if
farmers want to spend a couple of hours at the coffee shop, or take a
vacation once in awhile, they deserve it just as much as we deserve our
coffee breaks and vacations. We can't blame individual farmers for the
problems of agriculture.

I think the key to keeping sustainable family farming alive is in
developing local and regional food systems. The bulk of our food dollars
go to processors and marketers. By bypassing those systems and creating a
more direct link between farmers and consumers we can begin to construct
sustainable farming and food systems.

Kindest regards,

Laura

At 11:58 PM 1/22/2000 -0500, you wrote:
>I think Laura and Donna are on an excellent topic here. The sustainable
>agriculture community needs to step up the forefront with the answers to
>systems that work economically, environmentally, and socially.
>Conventional agriculture is failing. There is no arguement that it is
>failing economically. Little arguement or at least little fact shows its
>doing as good of a job as possible on the environment and social front. We
>are soon approaching the day that it will make little good to talk about the
>farmers of the midwest as if nothing changes we are down to the last
>generation except for a handful of us that are crazy enough or lucky enough
>to remain.
>
>Some days I question what exactly we are accomplishing? The corps are still
>taking over agriculture. Is the goal to decimate agriculture and have to
>build a sustainable ag community from the rubble?
>Best wishes,
>Greg Gunthorp
>Full time, no off farm income Free range hog, chicken, rabbit, and beef
>farmer
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Donna Fezler <gcr@rhealiving.com>
>To: 'Laura K. Paine' <lkpaine@facstaff.wisc.edu>;
>sanet-mg@amani.ces.ncsu.edu <sanet-mg@amani.ces.ncsu.edu>
>Date: Saturday, January 22, 2000 7:07 PM
>Subject: RE: Help Please@ Wheaties:Farmer 5,Tiger Wood
>
>
>>I specified "the farmers that do not have a day job". Other than that I
>>stand by what I said. This "cafe phenomena" is openly talked about here in
>>West Central Illinois. People do not flock to farming as a profession
>>because of the high capital investment, low return and not having the
>>skills.
>>
>>The comment about the ratty gardens was what one of the farmers told me
>when
>>I asked. There is a class of farmers that have seed and/and livestock
>>business along with the the grain crops, but they are a very, very small
>>minority.
>>
>>The old farmers like to drive on my farm just to see my free-range chickens
>>and ducks. They tell me it reminds them of how it was when they grew up.
>>
>>Donna Fezler (livestock farmer)
>>GCR
>>Jacksonville, IL
>>
>>http://www.rhealiving.com
>>
>>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: owner-sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu [mailto:owner-sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu]On
>>Behalf Of Laura K. Paine
>>Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2000 9:58 AM
>>To: gcr@rhealiving.com; sanet-mg@amani.ces.ncsu.edu
>>Subject: Help Please@ Wheaties:Farmer 5,Tiger Wood
>>
>>
>>Dear Donna and others,
>>
>>I've got to protest your characterization of Midwestern farmers. Having
>>grown up in Illinois and having worked with farmers here in Wisconsin for a
>>number of years, I know of no farmers, grain or livestock that have the
>>easy, relaxed life you describe. If it were that easy, we'd all be
>>flocking to farming as a profession, right?
>>
>>Obviously, there are many fewer mixed livestock and crop farms and fewer
>>gardens on farms these days, but then, far fewer farmers are able to earn a
>>reasonable living from their farming and many spouses must, or wish to,
>>work off-farm (think about who traditionally does the gardening and food
>>preservation).
>>
>>Somehow we think that, because a person farms, they should be
>>self-sufficient. Many of the farm families I know have very busy,
>>two-career lives, with active, busy kids. Food processing and preservation
>>is very time consuming. If farmers don't garden or raise livestock, it's
>>not because they're lazy. They've simply budgeted their limited time to
>>those things that are most important to them.
>>
>>Kindest regards,
>>
>>Laura
>>
>>
>>
>>At 07:18 AM 1/22/2000 -0600, you wrote:
>>>Good question and the same one I asked when I moved to Illinois 7 years
>>ago.
>>>The farmers work long hours in the field twice a year for 6-8 week
>periods.
>>>For a month prior to these events they work on their machines to get them
>>>ready.
>>>
>>>If they do not have a day job they spend the rest of the time-every
>>>morning-at the local cafe shooting the bull. Gardening and family
>>livestock
>>>are too much work and the garden looks ratty anyway by August.
>>>
>>>The common midwest farmer is as detached from his food source as an
>>>urbanite.
>>>
>>>Donna Fezler
>>>GCR
>>>Jacksonville, IL
>>>
>>>http://www.rhealiving.com
>>>
>>>
>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: owner-sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu [mailto:owner-sanet-mg@ces.ncsu.edu]On
>>>Behalf Of Roberto Verzola
>>>Sent: Saturday, January 22, 2000 10:10 AM
>>>To: gwg2@cornell.edu
>>>Subject: Re: RE: Help Please@ Wheaties:Farmer 5,Tiger Wood
>>>
>>>
>>> >at the current price, the net is probably negative. Thus, farm families
>>> >growing corn would starve to death if they depended on growing corn to
>>>feed
>>> >themselves. If they are eating, it is probably because of subsidies from
>>> >the government, off-farm work, and depletion of capital, rather than
>the
>>> >corn they produce.
>>>
>>>Am I missing anything? Why don't they just set aside a portion of the
>>>land to plant or grow whatever they need to eat, and use only the rest
>>>of the land for their cash crop? Then they don't have to starve to
>>>death. More than that, they will find themselves in a better
>>>negotiating position (because they won't go hungry if they won't sell
>>>at a loss).
>>>
>>>Roberto Verzola
>>>
>>>
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>>Laura Paine
>>Crops and Soils Agent
>>Columbia County Agriculture Center
>>120 West Conant Street
>>PO Box 567
>>Portage, WI 53901-0567
>>608/742-9680
>>FAX: 608/742-9862
>>laura.paine@ces.uwex.edu
>>
>>To Unsubscribe: Email majordomo@ces.ncsu.edu with the command
>>"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
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>>
>>
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>
>
Laura Paine
Crops and Soils Agent
Columbia County Agriculture Center
120 West Conant Street
PO Box 567
Portage, WI 53901-0567
608/742-9680
FAX: 608/742-9862
laura.paine@ces.uwex.edu

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