Want to start farming? Forages are key

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The year 2002 is the year for the next census of agriculture in the United States. We do not have to wait for it to reveal the answers to the following questions: average age of farmers; average size of farms; and percentage of producers who have grain crops only.

The answer is that all three will be larger than in the last census.

For decades we have heard that it is almost impossible for young people to begin a career in agriculture. This statement is probably true, especially for those whose parents or grandparents cannot assist one into the profession, if we are talking about traditional farming such as raising grain crops, feeding hogs and cattle and milking cows.

I see opportunities. But for those who wish to do something other than sit on the seat of a big machine, there is a future in agriculture at the entry level.

One method is producing horticultural crops and going directly to consumers. Many choose this venture to stay in farming.

However, the majority of producers fail to realize where the potential of high returns lies in production agriculture. The answer is excellent management of forages.

Recent research studies by the University of Illinois and southern Illinois farmers have shown net profits of several hundred dollars per acre with new technology in management grazing.

Forages the future. Ohio producers are “netting” far more per acre than corn and beans by rotational grazing of sheep, dairy, goats or beef cattle.

The management of forages, whether hay or grazing, is the key to future profits in agriculture.

With predictions by agriculture economists of another decade of depressed grain prices, integrated crop and livestock enterprises will be the “ticket” to future profitability in agriculture.

It’s time for the young man to plant grass and legumes, buy electric fence and realize his dreams in farming.

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