HOMEGROWN Life: More on the Drought

| 8/4/2012 9:20:12 AM

Out here in the Farm Belt, it’s hard to do much other than beat the
same drum again and again (and again). It’s hot. It’s dry. Nothing is
growing. We’re running out of water. And there is no sign of change on
the horizon.

As farmers, we all take risks. We’re part of the hallowed class of job
creators, entrepreneurs, small business owners or whatever else
becomes the soup-of-the-day political rhetoric about working and
living and spreading money around our communities. All of us farmers,
large and small, are a big part of the engine that drives the economy
of rural communities, rural counties and rural states.

This year, we are learning a lot about what happens when that engine
sputters. What happens when farmers have very little to sell?

On my multigenerational family farm here in West Missouri, we have a
daily discussion about how we’re going to make it through. The grass
we need to feed our herd of cattle and sheep and goats is simply not
around. We had a very tiny hay crop to tide us over through winter,
but we’ve already dug deep into that hay supply to make it through
this summer. We could purchase grain to feed our livestock through the
lean times, but grain prices are skyrocketing due to corn and bean
crop failures all over the Midwest. So, we really have no choice but
to sell off much of the herd until there is more to eat. Then, wait
for rain and grass growth once again.

In normal years, or even decent years, we’re not even close to being
overstocked. We nearly always have more of a problem of keeping up
with the grass rather than having enough grass for our livestock to
eat. We usually have to mow off top growth just to maintain pasture
quality and don’t even need the extra hay.

The plan of selling off livestock to make it through sounds simple
enough, but for my Dad it hurts. He’s a few years out from retirement
from his day job and a big part of his retirement plan is to get the
farm paid for so that he can have a decent income from the cow-calf
operation in his retirement years. Cutting the cattle herd from 85
head down to 35 or 40 is a big hit in projected annual income from
calf sales.

8/7/2012 3:57:44 PM

If you want to know what is happening to the climate go to YouTube and watch "What in the World Are They Spraying? (Full Length)" or check it out here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jf0khstYDLA

John LeDoux
8/5/2012 2:22:43 PM


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