Letter: Farmers, think twice before putting all your eggs in one basket

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Editor:

Farm and Dairy newspaper has offered many thought provoking and informative articles these past 40 years in which I have been an avid reader.

I am always anxious to open the mailbox to pull out my weekly copy. Realizing from some recent editorials and features, that farmers and ranchers have two partners; Uncle Sam and the local weather reporter, I now believe Ohio agriculture has too few partners.

Some of us actually worked in the ag industry when it was better to have 10 small customers rather than one big one. With everyone searching the internet for information, having a degree in agriculture does not carry as much prestige in 2019 as it did in the 1970s and ’80s.

We were always cautioned at home on our farm not to put all your eggs in one basket. The thought of one market being everyone’s choice would have never made its way through our capitalistic society 40 years ago.

Alternatives and competition in the ag market place made the difference then and it will today in 2019. Some of you may remember when the local feed mills were busy during grain harvest and especially every Saturday morning. Developing local customers and supporting local agriculture businesses gave strength to many communities economically, social, and politically.

Many of my old customers — the mills — are now closed, and are falling into disrepair. Then, as now, we heard many arguments, mostly coming out of the agriculture universities for larger economies of scale.

Proven time after time: if your farm cannot be profitable on a small scale, then very likely it will not make it if it has 10 times the size. So much of today’s profitability has to do with mineral rights, school district taxes and the right of landowners to develop their land accordingly.

What legacy will we be able to leave our children and grandchildren if all their family’s hard work cannot be passed down? Diversification offers alternatives for a stronger Ohio and regional ag community.

I have seen Ohio farmers and ranchers get weaker economically, socially and politically because there are not as many of us involved in farm and in ag businesses today. Socially, people do not network and look after each other as they once did. Absentee landowners which are not a part of most communities have abandoned the business.

Politically, fewer numbers mean fewer votes for communities which evolved into urban centers. The average age of many agriculture operators are now closer to 59 years old, without anyone in the family willing to take over if the sole proprietor’s health should fail.

Economically, it goes without saying, corn, beans and Florida very likely has not been the crop rotation of our younger farm and ranch operators, since the grain prices have reduced incomes.

If you want to diversify your farming operation, perhaps brainstorming with your closest neighbors will make a difference. Certainly, cost sharing equipment purchases among neighbors makes sense. And do not forget the purchasing power of those which choose to forgo all the bells and whistles that seems to be prevailing in this highly technical market place.

Mark Brohard
Newark, Ohio

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