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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Dec 18, 2009

I have done my share of complaining about the crop and the weather. I suspect that puts me in the same place as many of my neighbors for several hundred miles in all directions.

After we are done talking about these subjects, we will start complaining about the cost of those things that we buy to put in a crop.

There will be seed corn at $400 a bag before discounts, which will put seed expense at more than $100 an acre; and costs keep creeping up whether buying or renting.

Machinery wears out and needs to be replaced. Then there is fertilizer, herbicide, and diesel fuel; any of those can be in short supply at any time.

Anyone listening to one or several farmers complaining would ask the logical question. “Why don’t you quit?”

That is a good question and I do not believe any of my neighbors are even thinking of an answer. When asked that question, the questioner is more likely to get a puzzled look from me or any of my neighbors than an answer.

A farmer will quit for two reasons. The first reason is when the farmer decides he is done and the second reason is that his lender says he is done. Everyone tries to avoid the second reason.

A weekend trip through central Minnesota, a few days ago, let me take inventory of farms and their progress of the places I have become familiar with on roads I have been traveling on for 18 years.

One dairy farm has always had cattle scattered around that did not have a single cow on the place.

I will check the next time I drive by to see if there are any cattle there, but I wonder if the recent collapse in dairy prices ended that farm’s dairying. It could have been finances.

It could have been the age of the farmer and lack of help. Maybe the decision was made that it was a good time to get out.

Two other dairy farms had a large supply of feed visible from the road along with pens of cattle. They are weathering the storm of low prices so if they are thinking about quitting, it does not look like it will be very soon.

Farmers want to farm. It is that law of supply and demand that interferes with our plans, especially when we overproduce. We are proud of our ability to produce. We are always after one more acre, one more bushel and one more pound.

Full wagons and trucks mean full bins so after this year’s harvest, sitting with bins of a crop we are not that proud of means we want to do better next year. We are all asking ourselves, “What can I do so that will not happen again? What methods do I add or change to raise a crop that is bigger and better?”

After all our complaining, we farmers are always getting ready to improve on last year, whether it was a good year or not. That is why the idea of quitting is the last thing we would do now.

We can complain and we will probably over produce. But quit? You have got to be kidding.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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