Commentary: John R. Block Reports from Washington

“On the Farm”

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And now today’s commentary.

I was on the Illinois farm last week. We finished harvesting soybeans. I was so happy to be there and have a chance to run the combine a little. Having farmed all my life, I just wanted to watch that golden corn flow into the bin. Our soybean yield came in at about 75 bushels per acre and corn over 230 bushels per acre. I am very happy with those yields. It was our good fortune that our farm team did a great job and the weather cooperated. We have farmer friends in other states that had to deal with drought, floods, and all kinds of weather destruction.

We never know if the weather will cooperate in mid-April when we want to start planting. We prefer to have all the corn and soybeans in the ground by mid-May. It doesn’t always work that way, but it did this year. And we had adequate moisture during the growing season. Harvest started on time – mid September and we will be able to celebrate by Halloween.

Now – we focus on next year – We will plant nearly 4000 acres – corn and beans. This fall we will knife in the nitrogen fertilizer. We will also deliver hog manure to our fields from our hog finishing barns. Some of our fields will receive lime to maximize yields. Our focus now is on next year’s crop. Fertilizer costs have exploded. We have another big expense – don’t forget about the seed and weed killing insecticides.

The uncertainty and challenges that farmers of all kinds face need to be appreciated. Another unexpected problem that we faced and many other farmers, was a shortage of parts. Our dealer had to steal parts off of one of the combines he had at his dealership. That fixed our machine, but the combine the dealer has isn’t going anywhere soon. As you are aware, we raise pigs – birth to market. We sent a trailer load – 170 head to market. They weighed 300 pounds each. This week 2 more trailer loads will go to market. I know that some farms don’t diversify their operation. We always have. But not like when I grew up. We milked cows, had chickens and eggs. Along with litters of pigs we had sheep for a while. The farming business has changed. So many of our family farms are gone. Consolidation and specialization rule the day.

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The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of nor the Southern Farm Network.