In Gene Logsdon Blog on September 10, 2014 at 9:37 am
From GENE LOGSDON
Reading “Help Wanted” sections in local rural newspapers, I am moved to smiles or tears or both at one advertisement that appears more and more often these days. It goes like this: “Looking for a good, full time, all around farm assistant to drive modern farm equipment and trucks for all farm operations including planting, spraying and transporting crops. Must be self-motivated and willing to learn. Must take responsibility for maintaining and repairing equipment. Must be willing to work long hours and weekends during peak seasons. Wage based on experience.”
There is so much irony involved here. Let me count the ways.
Here is the big farm that needs a real farmer that the big farm drove out of business.
Here is the big farm that knows how to get more land or machinery to continue to grow but can’t hire a real farmer to do the work.
How I would love to know what the “assistant” who answers this ad, if anyone does, will be offered as a starting wage. (As soon as the word, wage, is used instead of salary, you know it won’t be much.) The employer is asking for someone with more brains than banking requires, as much stamina as professional sports demands, almost as many people skills as it takes to run a university and the dedication of a sainted doctor. But here in my neck of the woods, More…
In Gene Logsdon Blog on September 3, 2014 at 8:44 am
From GENE LOGSDON
In the early 1970s, I left Marvin Grabacre within the pages of Farm Journal magazine just after he had, in the 21st century, bought out his last competitor who owned the other half of the U.S. farmland. Now he owned it all. Half of the U.S. had not been a large enough economic unit for a farming enterprise, he said. And he was already thinking about buying Japan, figuring he could sell off Arizona and New Mexico to get the equity in his stock portfolio that he needed to attract that kind of investor money. Arizona and New Mexico would soon run out of water anyway, he figured, so why not get rid of them while the price was still high.
I thought I was being a smartass humor writer, drawing out to its ultimate absurd conclusion the madness of monster farming that pervaded the countryside at that time. The collapse in the land bubble came about ten years later and I thought that would be the end of idiot money farming. But by 2007, it was on the rise again and my absurdities about Marvelous Marv didn’t sound absurd at all. Huge farms were forming in Eastern Europe, Africa, Brazil and in fact anywhere investors could get their hands on cheap land. (You can track all this with USDA’s Economic Research Service at http://www.ers.usda.gov which does not indulge in droll humor like I do.) By 2010 Black Earth Farming, in Russia, for one, was running tractors over 1,200 square miles of farmland. (Honest). Farms of 300,000 hectares were becoming ho-hum. More…
In Gene Logsdon Blog on August 27, 2014 at 9:14 am
From GENE LOGSDON
Agriculture’s most earnestly held article of faith is that if farmers can continue to increase production to meet the ever-rising demands of population growth, future food shortages and the upheavals that so often follow can be avoided. If you care to look at the situation from a somewhat different angle, the opposite is truer. The more food an agricultural system produces, the more it encourages population growth, and the more the population grows, the greater the chances that social stress, war, genocide and famine will follow. One would think that after elegantly feasting on good food, humans would just want to lean back, belch and enjoy their good fortune. Instead they haul off and procreate more people to join the feast.
I used to brandish Farmers of Forty Centuries as the ultimate last word in sustainable food production and the best answer to avoiding world hunger. I was wrong. That book describes farming in Asia in the early 1900s when more food was being produced there per acre than anything the gene manipulators or the organic producers today have come close to imitating. All it did was keep population growing so that more food had to be produced. China, especially during its wars with Japan in the 1930s More…