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 Post subject: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 13 19, 9:03 am 
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We've talked about various things in other threads but it seems like it needs its own thread. This article pretty much explains a lot of the problems but I don't know if I agree with some of the solutions proposed at the end. Anyway:

Iowa Crops Look Like Food — But No One’s Eating
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Iowa is all about maximizing yield, and has been this way as long as most can remember. Briefly, here’s why: Prices of Midwestern grain commodities tend to fall over time because we don’t need as much as we produce. Against all economic logic, the stratagem is to find uses for the surplus rather than cut back production to balance it with demand. (Imagine, for example, if 50 percent of Florida’s tomatoes were used to run cars because we produced more of them than we can eat.)

If you’re after bushels or pounds per acre, corn is the obvious choice. It yields more than almost anything. Demand is artificially high, thanks in part to ongoing subsidies that ensure that Midwestern farmers can hardly fail and the pork-barrel ethanol mandate. Corn production was undeterred by Trump’s threatened tariffs, which have made Mexico and China look elsewhere for corn and soybeans.

Nevertheless, when I asked a farmer about growing other crops, he said, “I tried oats once, but the yield wasn’t as good as corn and it didn’t pay as much per bushel, so why would I do that again?”
Logically (sort of), every farmer in Iowa behaves as an individual, believing that the way to beat low prices is to “compensate on volume.” Farmers put their farms and their lives on the line by plunging deep into debt for a century — advised by the government to focus on commodities and squeezed by declining prices and “free trade” in a global market, all while trying to maintain a family business that’s existed for generations. The more they produce, the more “inputs” — chemicals, seeds, equipment — they must buy. The more they produce, the lower prices go, and everyone in the system benefits except the farmer, who goes along with it, believing there is no other choice.

Blaming farmers is misdirected, akin to blaming the worker in an arms factory: Farming is hard, and harmful farming has been the way to make money in Iowa for a long time. I felt this despair as a visitor, so I can only imagine being a young person in Iowa, born into a dying, poisoned, exploitative setting, with few ways out. The highly romanticized past has fallen apart, as it did in coal country and the Rust Belt, and anywhere else where extraction has reached its limits. (Industrial farming, like mining, is extraction: The removal of something precious from the earth.) This despair is literally killing people.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 13 19, 3:40 pm 
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That person seems like they get all their farming info from reddit. Farming bad, poison, grow something else besides corn, etc.


What the farming community doesn't need are city people who have no clue about farming coming in and telling us how to farm. We grow corn and soybeans because that's what grows well here, and that's what is marketable here. Why in the hell would I grow oats? There is no market for it. I think I'd have to drive to St. Louis or Ceder Rapids to market my oats.

Anyway, at this point there are no realistic solutions to the farm crisis. This trade war is stupid, we need universal health care, input costs are out of control, mother nature is screwing us, and commodity prices are crap, see trade war comment.

With that said it's not like there haven't been good times. 2000ish through 2015 or so were boom times. I'm not sure how we get back to it or it was just a unique set of conditions that made it so, but these are definitely bust times now.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 16 19, 9:19 am 
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Honestly, i get tired of farmers (imadreamer, in particular) saying that non-farmers should have nothing to say about ag policy. And i guess only vets can have a thought about foreign policy.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 16 19, 10:01 am 
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I think the basic point made in the article is correct. How free markers are supposed to work is producers figure out what is being demanded, and then produce the amount that maximizes profits. Rather than growing a more sane amount that would keep prices higher, they grow as much as they can and then try to increase demand by putting corn into gas and a million other places it arguably does not belong.

I'm not against subsidizing farmers so that they grow more than they would at that max profit point - but the idea should be to grow more so we can feed more people. Not to grow more so we can put corn into all these other places. We can grow lots and lots of things in the Midwest. People are growing grapes in vineyards. So I'd also favor subsidizing other crops than just corn and soybeans so that we can get a healthier mix than all this monoculture.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 16 19, 2:05 pm 
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I get all my ag news from modern farmer magazine.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 16 19, 2:19 pm 
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and all my dates from farmersonly.com


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 16 19, 5:04 pm 
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lukethedrifter wrote:
Honestly, i get tired of farmers (imadreamer, in particular) saying that non-farmers should have nothing to say about ag policy. And i guess only vets can have a thought about foreign policy.



Alright, but here's the thing. The average person in this country is so far removed from food production they can't make informed decisions on it. There are big numbers of people who think GMOs are bad, despite not even knowing what that is. There are people who think all chemicals are bad. One time someone took a picture of an irrigator working and posted it on the local facebook group complaining about all the chemicals being put on the food. Of course, it was just water but the non farmer of course didn't know that and despite their ignorance was more than happy to go and spread false info. There are still a lot of people who think organic means no chemicals, it doesn't, it just means different chemicals.

I also don't think vets should be making foreign policy, I think foreign policy experts should.

I agree with Pioneer, I'd like to see more variety but marketability is the hurdle. You can only sell so many grapes, carrots, etc. Also specialization is a big part of the reason food is so cheap in America. It wouldn't be feasible for a lot of farmers who farm corn to start farming potatoes, grapes, etc. The equipment cost would be huge.

I do love the farmers market movement as well as the locally grown movement that is gaining steam in America. Hopefully it can get fresh healthy foods to people who may not normally get them. IE city people.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 16 19, 10:54 pm 
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IMADreamer wrote:
lukethedrifter wrote:
Honestly, i get tired of farmers (imadreamer, in particular) saying that non-farmers should have nothing to say about ag policy. And i guess only vets can have a thought about foreign policy.



Alright, but here's the thing. The average person in this country is so far removed from food production they can't make informed decisions on it. There are big numbers of people who think GMOs are bad, despite not even knowing what that is. There are people who think all chemicals are bad. One time someone took a picture of an irrigator working and posted it on the local facebook group complaining about all the chemicals being put on the food. Of course, it was just water but the non farmer of course didn't know that and despite their ignorance was more than happy to go and spread false info. There are still a lot of people who think organic means no chemicals, it doesn't, it just means different chemicals.

I also don't think vets should be making foreign policy, I think foreign policy experts should.

I agree with Pioneer, I'd like to see more variety but marketability is the hurdle. You can only sell so many grapes, carrots, etc. Also specialization is a big part of the reason food is so cheap in America. It wouldn't be feasible for a lot of farmers who farm corn to start farming potatoes, grapes, etc. The equipment cost would be huge.

I do love the farmers market movement as well as the locally grown movement that is gaining steam in America. Hopefully it can get fresh healthy foods to people who may not normally get them. IE city people.

I am fairly sympathetic to the job of farmers today, but your anecdotes here (someone posting a falsehood on FB, or a lot of people think this about GMOs and chems) don't bolster your thesis about "city people" and their standing in farming conversations.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: July 17 19, 12:45 pm 
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Freed Roger wrote:
IMADreamer wrote:
lukethedrifter wrote:
Honestly, i get tired of farmers (imadreamer, in particular) saying that non-farmers should have nothing to say about ag policy. And i guess only vets can have a thought about foreign policy.



Alright, but here's the thing. The average person in this country is so far removed from food production they can't make informed decisions on it. There are big numbers of people who think GMOs are bad, despite not even knowing what that is. There are people who think all chemicals are bad. One time someone took a picture of an irrigator working and posted it on the local facebook group complaining about all the chemicals being put on the food. Of course, it was just water but the non farmer of course didn't know that and despite their ignorance was more than happy to go and spread false info. There are still a lot of people who think organic means no chemicals, it doesn't, it just means different chemicals.

I also don't think vets should be making foreign policy, I think foreign policy experts should.

I agree with Pioneer, I'd like to see more variety but marketability is the hurdle. You can only sell so many grapes, carrots, etc. Also specialization is a big part of the reason food is so cheap in America. It wouldn't be feasible for a lot of farmers who farm corn to start farming potatoes, grapes, etc. The equipment cost would be huge.

I do love the farmers market movement as well as the locally grown movement that is gaining steam in America. Hopefully it can get fresh healthy foods to people who may not normally get them. IE city people.

I am fairly sympathetic to the job of farmers today, but your anecdotes here (someone posting a falsehood on FB, or a lot of people think this about GMOs and chems) don't bolster your thesis about "city people" and their standing in farming conversations.



fair enough.


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 Post subject: Re: Ag thread
PostPosted: August 13 19, 1:15 pm 
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These guys really are muppet movie villains.

Quote:
America’s farmers have apparently been demoted by the Trump administration from “great patriots” to “whiners,” according to a tone-deaf joke by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Farmers, struggling with plunging income and bankruptcies amid President Donald Trump’s trade war, were stunned.

Perdue made the joke while getting heat last week from Minnesota farmers complaining about, among other things, the latest blow to their businesses from the trade war. China has canceled all purchases of U.S. farm products in retaliation for Trump’s decision to impose 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports.

At a Farmfest listening session with farmers in Minnesota, Perdue hit back at the complaints with his joke: “What do you call two farmers in a basement? A whine cellar.”

As he pounded the table in mirth, some of the thousands of farmers at the event laughed nervously — which was followed by boos.


Farmers Reel After Sonny Perdue Mocks Them As ‘Whiners’ Amid Trade War Bankruptcies


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