Farm Horizons, May 1998

Cost of living goes up, but not for farmers

According to a letter to the editor in the Farm Journal from Mel Simonson of Wisconsin, farmers in that state produced a record crop of both corn and soybeans in 1997.

Simonson wrote that in 1948 a bushel of corn was worth $2.48, while 50 years later it was $2.37, 11 cents less.

"Recently, sacrificing dairy farmers have been producing nature's most nearly perfect food at 1970 prices," he wrote.

Since 1948, the price of a new truck or tractor went up 1200 percent; the price of a pair of leather work shoes is also up 1200 percent; the cost of a spool of barbwire is up 800 percent; the cost of a day in the hospital is up 1000 percent; and property taxes are up 800 percent, according to Simonson.

"If the price of a bushel of corn had followed the price of industrial products up, the cost of a bushel of corn today would be $30 instead of $2.37. Guess who is doing the sacrificing?" Simonson wrote.

He concluded: "With Wisconsin alone losing four experienced, dedicated dairy farmers every day due to economic stagnation in agriculture, this important question comes to mind: will there be any experienced farmers left to produce food for the tables of 300 million-plus hungry consumers in the 21st century?"

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