Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Rich" Farmers

In the period of just a few minutes this afternoon I got two calls from my Dad. The first wast to tell me that the creek was most definitely flooding out some of our crops. The second was to tell me that the big truck we haul grain (the same grain we would have raised on those flooded acres) to the elevator in needed a new rear end and it would cost as much as we had paid for the truck. That folks is the joys of farming and ranching and why I get my hackles up when I hear about those "rich" farmers.

I have relegated myself to being able to accept that I can do nothing about the weather. The same rain that makes my crops grow is the same rain that makes the creeks flood. Dealing with weather is just part of this job, there is nothing I can do about it, but that makes it no less frustrating. Hard work and more importantly, my paycheck, can be gone in just a matter of minutes.

The equipment repairs, herbicide costs, fuel costs and other bills are also just part of the cost of doing business. Farming and ranching may look like a lucrative business at first blush but it is a high capital, low return enterprise. Quite frankly it defies many of the principles I studied in economics.

As farmers and ranchers we cannot control the cost of our inputs (fuel, fertilizer, herbicides, etc..), we have huge fixed costs (land payments, machinery costs, taxes, etc..) and we have no control over the price we receive for our production (grain and livestock are commodities and driven by supply and demand). All of this would leave even the most daring of entrepreneurs to question our sanity.

Why do we farm and ranch if we have no control over our costs, prices and at best have a slim profit margin. Well, I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I do it out of a love for the land, my heritage and my chosen way of life. If I were worried about becoming rich I would pick another profession. I choose to farm because I take great pride in continuing on my family farm, in feeding the world and a love for living close to the land. So yes, I guess I am a "rich" farmer but not in terms of money, but in terms of fulfillment. Much like this storm there will always be sunshine after the dark clouds.


  1. It amazes me how you write so many of the same feelings we have and you do it so well. Even though we have yet to meet, my husband and I (fellow farmers) feel a kinship with you. Keep up the good work :)