Thanksgiving was last week and we have much to be thankful for in this country. When we go to the store, we find the shelves full of all kinds of food we can buy to fill our dinner table.
One of the groups we need to be thankful for are our farmers who provide the basic products that become the food on our grocery shelves. Without the exceptional ability of the less than 2 percent of our population to produce food for the rest of us, we would be hungry. And hungry people are unhappy people. So let’s express our appreciation for local farmers as well as those across the country who do a remarkable job of feeding us.
Our food also costs the least amount from our take-home pay than any other country in the world. It is a bargain compared to other countries. Also, most of us would not like to go to work at a job in industry or in town and not know what we are going to get paid. We expect to know what our salary or wages will give us for our work.
Farmers, on the other hand, plant their crops in the spring not knowing what the price for those soybeans or corn will be when harvest approaches. They tend to be optimistic and hope for a price that will provide a decent family living. They not only have their labor but all the costs of getting their crops planted. These include fuel, equipment maintenance, fertilizer, lime, seed and any seed protectants. They have a lot invested and don’t know what the return will be on that investment.
Come harvest time, they are always faced with challenges from the weather. Wet weather delays harvest and tearing up muddy fields with harvesting equipment is hard on soils. Until recently, local harvest conditions have been good. Most of the soybeans are in the bins and were low in moisture content. But there is still considerable acreage of corn out there to be harvested. Many fields are on the wet side, which slows harvest and cuts up the field.
Along with a delayed harvest for some farmers is the low price they can get for their corn. The main reason is a big crop with excess supplies. That always beats down the price, especially if other countries in the world have good crops.
Soybeans have been returning a better price in terms of costs of getting them in the ground. We did see some farmers switch from corn to soybeans locally this year, as well as nationally. We might see a bigger change next year, depending on carry over supplies of both crops.
Local dairy farmers are faced with the same situation that crop farmers experience. They feed, care, milk their cows and send the milk off to the processor not knowing what they will get for that milk. Federal milk marketing orders provide some basic information but the final price is determined by how much milk comes to market.
Looking at the big picture in agriculture with farmers still willing to produce in the face of uncertainty, we can be thankful for their willingness and ability to continue to fill our grocery shelves. As we sit down to our dinner table, let’s give a special thanks to farmers and others who process our food and get it on grocery shelves.
Submitted by John Parker who is retired from Ohio State University and is an independent writer for Farm Bureau. He can be contacted at [email protected]