Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Grain prices are on the rise, food prices are on the rise and the world over all seems a bit sadder with the loss of so many farms in such a small span of time. The loss of the farms goes by almost un-noticed as daily life lays its heavy toll upon us all. Days seem to fly by and it will not be long until fall has stretched out her hand to paint the few living trees with her palette of bright colors. For many farms this fall will turn into a winter from which there will be no return, and the long standing battle between corporate farms and small family farms may be at an end.
Bitter in both the mouth and the belly is the thought that a country founded and based on farming has turned its back on those who for so many generations have placed the very food upon its table, from which it drew its strength. We as a people have long ago passed through the plight of the dust bowl and depression, never thinking that it could happen again. Yet, today as farms dry up and the memories of that by gone time return too many farm families; it is with heavy heart that they wonder why they even do it. Many like us feel unwanted in this age of automation and commercial farms. Left to the road with no thank you, and no prospects of better times ahead, it is a sad and lonely road we follow, the last of a dying breed of hard working Americans, who have lost their place. Many people talk to me each day of the many green programs and expanding ideas on natural/organic foods, in the case of many small farms it is too little too late. The small farm can in many cases no longer survive; there is no time for another new plan, no big idea to save them from their fate.
On our farm as an example, it is quite improbable that I can pay $65.00 or more for a round bale of hay, not to mention feed for a cow or goat and then sell at the price of a corporate farm that can feed cheaper feed with no fear as they are protected by a government system who encourages the large corporate farm, all the while creating laws that a small farm could not in any way adhere to. If I put three hundred dollars into feed, I cannot sell the goat for one hundred dollars; a two hundred dollar loss on a small farm is unthinkable, more than that it is impossible being too great of a lose to take on. To make matters worse prices continue to rise and supply nowhere meets need. There are days you can go down to the local gas station where you can see trucks lined up from other non-drought areas of the country selling hay at the most alarming prices and amounts, it is likely to buy hay this will you must commit to at least if not more than 40 bales. I was told by one of our local farmers that the bales he bought were eighty five dollars and that he had to buy 40 to get such a low price…that means he spent 3400 dollars for two months’ worth of hay. I was shocked to say the least. In a normal year we pay thirty seven per bale, delivered. In a normal year we would go through nearly 100 bales, this year we can only get around 30, at nearly one third less hay, we needed one third less animals. So the selling began over a month ago, we sold off most of our chickens and non-food ducks, in hopes of staying some of the money towards hay. We have sold a few goats, I tried to sell a cow, but made little progress and now we are faced with keeping it till it calves and then most likely will need to sell it. Breaks my heart as I saved a long time to have a second cow, but with the laws regarding selling of milk, she is of little value to us. My husband talks about throwing a couple of bottle calves on her and having veal…maybe that is a good answer for us, right now I don’t know. It is a hard path to go down, knowing that we may not have enough hay to get us through, but I have faith we will find a way. So this is where we stand, much like other farmers on the cusp of failure…