Last night’s rain isn’t helping anything on the farm. Most of our plug flats are yellowing due to too much moisture setting outside, but the greenhouse is too full to move them inside. Everything planted in the field is under water and they are calling for more rain every day this week. It rained all night and most of early morning here then it rained again tonight at the farm. Our rain gauge registered over 2 1/2 inches but it has a leak in it due to a branch hitting it this spring so it could have been more and that is on top of all we have been receiving all spring. The front yard and one barn is totally under water and it took 3 sump pumps to keep up with what was coming into the basement all night. The pumps finally caught up by about 4 a.m. and we laid down for a bit to catch up on some much needed sleep.
We are truly sweating it as far as income this year. Most our crops we can’t get in the ground and what is in isn’t looking very good if it does survive it will take the rest the summer to nurse it back in time for frost to hit. We were talking with a number of our fellow farmers who are in the same predicament and not a one of us saw a light at the end of the tunnel nor a boat that could help in the dock. The only lining I see is produce prices will be high unfortunately no one around here will have any to take advantage and get the better prices -there that is a half full and half empty sentiment isn’t it?
Produce farmers are not subsidized like grain farmers are and crop insurance is not available for most of us. It doesn’t help that produce farmers only have about 12 weeks to make their income for the year. With schools starting so early anymore the week before school starts the crowds go down at the farmers markets for they are shopping for school supplies and clothes. Then the week schools start produce farmers lose about 50% of their income because parents are busy with school activities. The week after school starts the sports games start and you lose another 25% of sales. Then add insult to injury the farmers markets stop usually the first or second week of September anymore and that is just when the bulk of produce, and winter squash, potatoes etc. are coming on.
Tariffs on farm products have put a bit of hurt on farmers too. Most seeds come from overseas from Asian countries where most the U.S. Greenhouses have set up shop. Seed prices went really high and then tariffs on top of that, some of our pepper seeds were over a $1.00 a seed and we cut our seed orders in half. Then the black plastic and drip irrigation cost was much higher most of it comes from overseas too they had tariffs on them also. That was the subject of our growers group (a bunch of ole farmers who get together once a month or so) and talk about concerns, growing crops, bugs, disease, rain and many other topics on farming. We all understand the reason and the need for tariffs so the U.S. gets back on an even playing field in the markets but that coupled with Mother Nature’s wrath this year across the nation has proved more than challenging. Dad used to say “farming is for people who love to work but hate money.” Can’t say I argue that philosophy it is pretty much on track.
Since we couldn’t do much else today and we had an invite a couple weeks back to go look at an old flathead 6 motor, we went for a drive today. Out near Marseilles, Ohio the Tymochtee Creek was way out of its banks and we saw some Jersey cows and calves stranded on a small patch of ground unfortunately the water is still rising. I sure hope the farmer takes the fence down and moves them across the road to higher ground. With the inch and a half of rain they are calling for tomorrow those cows and calves will probably drown. We also saw many fields that were planted and totally under water, one field the farmer got his corn in pretty early for it had some nice growth on it unfortunately ¾ of the field was under water and in some areas 2-3 foot deep or more. We saw hay wagons standing in water and could only imagine if the hay was mowed as a lot of cut grass was floating on top. That usually means a lot of animals will be sent to market for there won’t be enough feed to get them through the winter. When too many animals go to market at once the price drops and the farmer loses again, not only his animals but his income too then the consumer gets it and is mad because meat prices go up due to supply and demand. It could be an even bigger trickle down for those who have pleasure/show horses. They usually buy hay and straw but with a shortage due to weather than the price goes up and for some they either can’t afford to buy it or there is not enough for farmers to sell. Then people have to sell their horses, with too many on the market and not enough to feed them the horse traders swoop in and buy them up cheap to ship to Canada or Mexico to the slaughter houses.
With years like this it takes several years to re-coup and some folks are at an age or period that they cannot re-coup. Many are at an age that they cannot find another line of work for most places will not hire them either too qualified, not qualified enough or too old. I know over the past couple years many of my fellow dairy farmers have had to sell out after generations of dairy farming. Many forced out by factory farms, big agri- business lobbyist and FSMA. Most of the folks I know were told by the processor that they needed to upgrade their milk houses with million dollar investments in state of the art equipment. The milk check dairy farmers get today is still the same price we got when I milked cows back in the 70’s. Yet feed prices keep going up, seed prices keep going up, equipment, fuel, utilities and insurance prices keep going up. It’s a real scary time for many farmers. I never thought I would see the day I would say I am glad I am older for I haven’t a whole lot more time on this earth. For years I always wished I was younger or at least 34 again. I sure wish my dad was here I would love to talk with him he had a way of putting a spin on things that it always made you look for the rainbow. He would say “there’s no pot- o – gold never was but the colors are sure pretty”… (sigh)