Friday, January 29, 2010

Just what I hoped/feared...

The most prominent impression from my hectic schedule at the Top Producer seminar was the jaw-dropping accomplishment and ability of the younger members of our profession there. By adding the Young Farmer session on the previous day, many stayed over into the rest of the program.

Maybe it was because Aaron was with me, I suddenly noticed these younger colleagues, and when conversing with them, I reinforced my belief the biggest challenge facing me and our our farm was leeping up with the competition arising all around us.

In fact, I think it is safe to say one of our worst fears has been realized: the best and brightest have returned to the farm.  And they are quietly accruing by sheer ability and economic advantage the bulk of the market share for farmers.

Although I have been going to the TP seminar for 14 years - all of them I think - it seemed like this year the 5-digit farm (>10,000 A.) was commonplace. At the same time, stories of rapidly shifting acres and a myriad of expansion patterns were represented. There are truly more ways to approach farming than most of us realize.

This may be the true value of this meeting - to at least forewarn the complacent of the depth and power of our competition next door. Simply condemning the level of ambition or greed in our eyes has not altered the increased pace of consolidation.

It is also clear that farms like ours (2100 A) will not be the center of the target for vendors, lenders, or buyers of farm inputs and products. It may not be " grow or die", but it may be "grow or wither".

I'll post more after I do the laundry (often a 2-day job for me) and get the 1099's out. Jan is helping a sick family member. Somehow everyone in our generation has gotten older and is having more health problems.

Please send cookies.


Brian in Central IL said...

I was putting the cookies in an envelope and thought they looked stale so I checked one, and it was fine. But another one looked slightly off color than the rest so I tried it, it was fine. But then one had a perceptibly lower number of chocolate chips so I checked it, and it was fine. Then I realized the envelope was empty so I saved the stamp.

Anonymous said...

It is feeling like the dam is about to break on traditional leases. The Walmarting of rural america is upon us. Cha Cha Cha Changes!

Ol James said...

"It may not be " grow or die", but it may be "grow or wither"."
As you have mentioned before here and on USFR. Kids straight out of college are getting into agriculture. Most are looking for established operations with several thousand acres for crops and leases and contracts set already. I fear there might be a "housing bubble" created for these youngsters.
Mr. John, do you feel that it has turned from Farming into, row crop engineering??
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