From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
I promised not to use his name because I wanted him to speak freely which is not easy to do these days when society is in such conflict. He is a fortyish farmer, articulate, engaging, a delight to talk to. He and his brother grow upwards of 5000 acres of corn and soybeans, much of it rented. The first time I met him, several years go, I remembered him saying that a farmer needed to spend two hours a day on the computer, hedging and marketing his grain. Talking to him a few days ago, I recalled his remark and he smiled. “Make that 8 to 9 hours today,” he said. That included time he spent marketing for other farmers who evidently recognized his skill in this regard.
I was aghast. Just think of that: a man who considers himself a farmer spends his working day almost entirely in electronic grain marketing. His brother “tends to the farm machinery.” They employ five people and “we pay them very well because it is really difficult to find people who have a real work ethic.” (None of the hired help has gone to college and it occurred to me that here was an opportunity to make a good living without spending a hundred thousand dollars to get a degree. Are there any guidance counselors pointing this out?)
Meeting this farmer again, I decided to take advantage of his experience to ask my favorite question these days. “I keep sticking my neck out and saying there’s going to be crash in farm land prices. Is that the case in your opinion?”
“Not yet,” he said. “Unlike the crash in the 80s, much of the land expansion now is being done with cash, not borrowed money. If prices drop, most farmers are in a better position to ride it out.”
“But accountants who handle farm business tell me that while farmers are paying half or more down with cash