Farm Horizons, May 1998

So who really needs farmers anyway?

Reprinted with permission from Eagle Butte News, Eagle Butte, S.D. Submitted by a reader.

By Helen Clausen

It's obvious that some people have all the farmers' and ranchers' problems solved.

Take this article which I lifted from another weekly newspaper in the state. Ralph Nachtigal, the editor, said he thinks it was written by a woman (a theory which I resist strongly), but read it anyway, you might enjoy it.

Stores are full, so who needs farmers . . .

Why all this fuss about saving the farm family? We don't need farmers anymore. Just look! The stores are full of food!

And besides, won't food be a lot cheaper when the corporations take over agriculture? After all, they're so much bigger, and everybody knows that bigger is better, and of course, more efficient.

I've seen big, efficient farmers who own fields all over the country. They spend a lot of this time running up and down the roads with their huge tractors and 30-foot implements, going from field to field.

And I know a 300-hp tractor can pull those big implements over the road much more efficiently than a 50 hp can!

I can't figure out why farmers are complaining so much. Take beef steak farmers, for example. I paid $3.98 a pound for steak yesterday. A cow weighs about a ton, I guess, so there's 2000 pounds x $3.98 equals $7,960 the farmer gets for the one cow, and he must have 100 of those big, rangy, black and white cows out there in his barns with their heads sticking through those trapper things.

Milk, dear me, I pay over $2 a gallon for milk and if he can't make it on that, he's just lazy.

Take breakfast cereal. A 16-ounce box of flakes cost me $3.69. There's 60 pounds in a bushel of wheat so 60 x equals over $2.21 a bushel farmers get for wheat and one farmer raises about a million bushels, I think.

Another thing: all those cow farmers are doing it wrong - they under-utilize their land. You drive down the interstate and you see this big green pasture with maybe 100 cows in there, but he could put 1,000 in it, 4,000 if he really packed them in.

Take apples, 98 cents a pound. And one big apple weighs half a pound so those apples are like 50 cents apiece. If a farmer can't sell two apples for $1 and get by, he better move to town.

Farmers make a lot of extra work for themselves. They cut the corn down every year. They should let it grow and come back year after year like apple trees.

And another thing, farmers fail to keep up with consumers' changing tastes. For example, farmers will have their hogs produce lard, whereas Mrs. Suzy Q. Public wants hydrogenated oils.

And they still raise both male and female chickens, whereas people don't eat roosters anymore. Those farmers should hatch only hens because all customers want today is chicken breasts.

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