Farmers strike? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I just heard a lady from Indiana, who called in to Fox news, that said if they take the election away from Bush, that the farmers are going to go on strike! Have any of you mid-westerners heard anything at all about this?

-- Annie (, November 16, 2000


Sound like they are trying to give Gore a reason to nationalize the farms.

-- JLS in NW AZ (, November 16, 2000.

Since when weren't most farms nationalized. As long as Farmers insist on price supports, set aside payments, etc., they are to beholden to the Federal govt. for thier own good.

-- ray s. (, November 16, 2000.

Well this is straight from the "horses mouth". We had two farmers in here eating lunch (our cafe') and they said that that was the first they'd heard of such; that the corn belt would be a good place to start, that mabey this is what we need to be heard?! That Bush is SUPPOSED to be the "farmer's president". And as for nationalizied's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. I've said this before; I'll say it again; farmers really don't want the governments $, they just want a fair price for their grain!!!!!!!!

-- Beth Weber (, November 16, 2000.

Have you seen the county by county breakdown of the vote? (See the end of the DUBYA DANCE thread) Look at the vast areas of farmland that were for Bush, then look at the tiny margin down each coast and in the rust belt that is Gore's. We are rapidly becoming a country where the folks who make a living by the sweat of their collective brow don't get any attention. The urban socialists of the big cities are the ones who are pulling the strings. I hope a farmer's strike does materialize, I also hope a day of civil disobedience comes about. But expect the govt. to come out and scream racketeering. That's the same tactic they use on Pro-life folks. Since when is our God and Constitution-given right to free speech and assembly considered racketeering?

-- melina b. (, November 16, 2000.

You said it Melina! God Bless! Wendy

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, November 16, 2000.

Go Melina. You are right on.

-- Colleen (, November 16, 2000.

Beth and others- Define "fair price" of a commodity item. It's whatever the market will offer. If all grow too much, prices fall. Currently there are brand new payments going out to cranberry growers in WI to buy excess supplies of their products. Why? Because prices were high a few years ago, everybody planted like crazy, the market leveled, supplies from the new bogs are now coming to market, oversupply has occurred and prices dropped. The govt.'s solution. Pay subsidies to support unneeded production. I know it sounds cold hearted, but if a few of these growers went out of business, supplies would tighten and prices would rise. Some would get hurt, but those who had sound business plans in the first place would ride it out and prosper even more in the long run. Instead, all become welfare farmers and the fundamnetal problem of oversupply is never solved.

Don't get me started about the unfairness of the dairy subsidies and how most of the Cal. dairies would be out of business without them. Farmers who have been succesful as of late have learned to think out of the box and adopt value added and specialty crop strategies. Opportunities are there for farmers to make good incomes, just not as they have done for the last hundred years. They must adapt.

-- ray s (, November 16, 2000.

Just exactly how are the farmers going to strike? Does that mean they are going to go out and take the seeds out of the ground so they won't grow next spring, or maybe just quit milking the cows? Maybe I can get my sheep to abort that week or get the goats to stop growing hair. Sorry but that kind of statement is so ridiculous! If you know anything about how a real farmer works you would know he is planning into next fall today and his investment will not allow him to just up and quit like a regular job. And why should a person who wants to grow food have to go bankrupt and lose his farm and take a job serving people because folks in this country are not willing to pay the price for good home produced food. Farmers are producing their products in the most economical, cost effective way they can and yes, some of them are making a little money, but it's not enough to feed, house, and raise a family on, not with the cost of insurances, etc. People need to wake up and realize if you do not support (be it higher prices or government subsidities) the people who are producing your food you will be eating food from foreign countries with God only know's what on it. The government does control the farmers in this country because if you control the food source you control the people. Sorry to rant, but this is a subject that really rattles my cage. I've been on a farm my entire life and know how my dad did it years ago and how my son-in-law is doing it today. Both were successful and both feed their families. The really sad part is that men and women are being forced from their life work, and if you know any farmers you got to know it's a severe blow to their self esteem and just plain hurts!

-- Betsy K (, November 16, 2000.

If either political candidate cared remotely about anyone living in the midwest farm states, they would have spent time there campaigning. They spent their time on both coasts and a few key states in the northern tier (except of course, during the primaries.) I'm generalizing, but it's mostly true.

Be grateful for the electoral college, otherwise you would truly get no respect. There's lots of land in the flyover spaces, but not that many people live there.

-- sheepish (rborgo@gte.nt), November 16, 2000.

it all boils down to supply and demand. you just cant screw with itBob in s.e.ks.

-- Bobco (, November 16, 2000.

Betsy K. I couldn't agree with you more. I'd love to know where these subsidy give aways that the government is supposed to be giving. What I've seen is matching fund programs that pay lots of money to "experts" who are often way overpaid for what they do, which is mostly meet a government agenda. We bust our backsides to produce, and it isn't any 40 hour a week job, in fact, I work off the farm to keep us above water. We take risks, we are at the mercy of markets, weather, unfunded or partially funded government mandates, the unions and middlemen that produce our tractor parts and equipment (try starting up a farming operation and see what it costs), oil prices, the foreign market competitors and competition from corporate farms who can sew up markets and products we need. I know farming is a business, not some kind of romantic kind of life. I'm just glad we are so small we have just a little debt.

We have friends whose farms have made good livings for 5 or more generations and today they are hurting. And it isn't because they are lazy or stupid. I don't know any industry that isn't more vulnerable to political whims. Our government wants to punish a renegade country, no more corn or wheat sales to themm. Here in Maine, the milk commission and creameries keep prices capped. The only way for a dairyman to get that milk check up is to produce more or get the butterfat content up (that could mean moving from Holstein to jersey cows, which the bank may frown upon), meanwhile, anyone with more then 50 cattle have to put in a manure lagoon which is something of a sewage treatment plant. That's a couple of hundred thousand dollars depending on the size of the operation. You don't even want to know what grain costs and you can bet the farmers producing the grain aren't getting rich off it. On the other hand, I'll be the managers and executives at Blue Seal Feeds or Agway don't get manure on the soles of their shoes.

We started building our farm from scratch. We cleared land, built our barn from cut trees and scrap wood. We didn't have running water in our house for two years and haven't received a penny from the government. Frankly I don't think Bush is the farmer's friend. I think he's the corporations friend. Gore at least sugguested he would make an effort to enhance ethenol production (good for corn growers).

Either way I don't see either one of them doing anything for American farmers. What I do see is, despite the rhetoric, American farming is going to eventually profit only corporate stockholders and like so many other industries, much of it will be shipped to 3d world countries and our farms will all be turned into housing developments and golf courses. And the very few farms left will be taxed out of existence, that is unless they are sued because city people don't want the noise, smells, occasional strays who wonder out of the pasture, etc.

-- Anne Tower (, November 17, 2000.

It should be supply and demand that decide what is planted or not, as long as goverment welfare for the farmer exists, that won't be allowed to happen. I am from farm stock on both sides of my family, and we "farm" hay here on our place, if we estimate it's going to be a bumper crop year for hay, we don't spend the money and labor to produce any more than we need, none for sale that year. The commodity market has got to be allowed to balance itself out without the government getting their coniving little fingers in it. Yes, a lot of farmers won't be able to wise up, and survive, but until that happens, we will continue to have too much corn, soybean, etc. There is no incentive for intelligent survival as a farmer right now, because of the farm welfare. Get rid of the welfare, and let the farmers go through the same thing that all the independent trucker's had to go through following Reagan's deregulating the trucking industry. Millions of unable to adapt truckers went out of business, we were among the survivors that got smarter, and are still out there, continuing to compete in the business.

The creed should be "get smart, adapt, or die" (business wise that is)! Of course we will have to pay a fair market value for these newly deregulated commodities, which could be almost double for some things, but I firmly believe that this is what should be allowed to happen. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 17, 2000.

That dosen't sound like a very good plan. Loosing allot more farmers and paying double for feed. We are allready loosing farmers at an alarming rate now. And how would one pay their bills if they deceided "none for sale that year" like you suggested? Even if one state has a bumper year for hay, there are other states which could grow none, due to the weather. Kentucky sent allot of hay to Texas this year. Now you might not make as much as selling it outright, but they still buy it from you, and we are supposed to take care of our own. What goes around comes around.

And we don't have even half of the truckers we need out there on the roads. I have good friends who are truckers, and many more are needed now. But instead of helping them, we are causing them to go out of business too. We are sitting on years worth of gas supplys, and they won't open it. Without the truckers, the US would come to a halt.

I would much rather the goverment give billions to the farmers and truckers than spend it going to Mars. If we don't take care of our own, what kind of people are we? Commodities feed allot of hungry people and help the farmers and truckers at the same time. I know allot of things need to be fixed, but taking it away from hard working Americans isn't the answer.

-- Cindy in Ky (, November 17, 2000.

Cindy, the ONLY reason we are paying such low food/commodity prices right now is because of the farm welfare, every other country in the world pays at least double what we do for food. Farming should be a free market enterprise like all other business, this is a free county, let the market do what it will on it's own. The end result will greatly benefit the farmers that are smart enough to survive!

In answer to your question on truckers, right now there are too many of them that do not know business wise what they are doing, they take loads that don't even cover their fuel costs, etc., that really hurts the rest of us, until a period of time passes, and that unwise trucker has gone out of business. In the meantime, because that unwise trucker has accepted and hauled cheap paying freight, that lets the shippers know that if they hunt hard enough, they can find someone to haul their freight at a loss.

In retrospect, we wish fuel would get high enough that it would quickly force the unwise truckers out of business, before they can so drastically effect the freight rates. Like two dollars a gallon, that would cause all freight rates to go up all over the country, and everthing you buy will reflect the price increase.

The markets MUST remain free to reflect one's ability to compete wisely. Any form of welfare just screws up the system, like I said before "get smart, adapt, or die !!!" Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 17, 2000.

Annie Miller- You said it all. This is not meant to bash individual farmers, who are some of the hardest working folks around, they are just not the best businessmen. Our food dollars spent per money earned is among the lowest in the world only found lower in those countries that are still primarily agrarian. This causes us as a society to value food, and thise who produce it, at a much lower level than we should. As long as the government continues to subsidize this production, fair and reasonable food costs will not be passed along to the consumer and farmers will continue to struggle.

-- ray s. (, November 17, 2000.

Annie and Ray are right, tough as the shake-out would be. But there are a couple of complicating factors. One is that the shake-out, especially if it involves the trucking industry as well as farms, will cause a recession, possibly a depression. Another factor is that we need to cut the competition with low-wage countries like China, in order for United States companies to be able to get the prices they need to cover expenses -- and that would contribute to a depression also. And last but not least, the farmers going out of business MUST be replaced -- but by whom??? And the hemorhage (sp) of farmland into subdivisions needs to be stopped, also. How many of the farms that went out of business would be bought up by another farmer, do you think? And the unfair competition of family farms with factory farms (which are becoming monopolies) needs to stop also. We need the family farms to stay the foundation of society, there should be more of them, not less.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, November 17, 2000.

I'd think that smaller, family style farms would be more likely to withstand the fallout from the removal of govt. price supports and subsidies. Debt load would be one of the biggest factors in this. Many of the big grain and dairy conglomerates exist only to collect subsidies and to function they must pay people to do the work. Remove the subsidies and you remove a large part of their cash flow. Remove their cash flow and they cannot meet payroll and employees leave. Family farms which haven't mired themselves in excess debt would not face these same problems. If push came to shove they could drink thier own milk, eat their own beef and produce and struggle through to better times. Some would not make it, just as some are not now. Those that did would be stronger.

-- ray s (, November 17, 2000.

Agree with most of the above comments. I am a cow/calf producer mostly. I have to do something with this year's calf crop. This year I decided to winter them over, but come next Spring I have to sell the calves regardless of what the market brings.

I have an MBA degree, used to belong to Mensa, and think I am a bit above average in dealing with business manners. I have yet to make a profit on my farm, and it pretty well eats up my retirement check. I do it because I love to be around cattle. However, it doesn't take much to drive people like me out of the business.

For those who don't know it several years ago the Government opted to buy out those who were receiving subsidies for grains. Payments for several years, then nothing. And, yes, I get some of those funds since there used to be grains grown on my property.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, November 17, 2000.

I think the key to surviving in any business, be it farming or trucking, which we both do, is diversification of the business. We don't rely on the farm to pay the bills, nor just on the trucking end of the business, but on both, and a few other creative ideas in addition to them.

My grandfather lived quite comfortably by dairy farming primarily, and producing replacement heifers, the sale of steers, and large scale egg production. He produced his own feed, bought no fertilizer, as he used the manure produced on the farm, and carried NO debt other than the original property itself. He did not feel compeled to buy a half million dollar combine, when he knew it would only be used once a year. He kept up with his old equipment, and it remained useful till long past it's days.

My other grandfather "farmed" the bounty of his forests, cutting timbers for the coal mines, and trucking them to the buyers himself, thereby eliminating the middle man, and keeping all the money himself. He also operated his own deep shaft coal mine, and hauled the coal out and trucked it himself, again keeping all the profits for himself. This is a man who survived the hardships of the Great Depression, he did not get rich, but he was able to build himself and his large family a comfortable, modern home, and keep the nesessities of daily life available.

What have I learned from the stories that my grandfathers told me all these years? Don't put all your eggs in one basket, diversify, and be able to make money where, and when you can, and the most efficient way you can. Don't carry debt, that will kill you in a marginal profit business, and do all the work yourself. I would like to think that we live up to my grandfather's expectations, at least I know they are proud of us for trying our best to follow in their footsteps. My maternal grandfather is still alive, and kicking, at the age of 96, God Bless him. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 17, 2000.

I come from a long line of full time farmers. I declined to take on the family tradition of having a cow/calf operation, feeder hogs, and truck farm (seasonal produce). Why you might ask? First, I saw that they worked from before sunup to way after sundown, there was never enough time in the day to get all the work done that needed done. They bought expensive feed, seed, tractors, parts, and fuel at retail prices. The 'commodities' they sold were at wholesale prices. Hmmm??? Name a business that buys retail and sells wholesale. Taint None, except farming. Carry a Business Model into a venture capitalist based on farming, and see how far you get. The system is fatally flawed. The Chicago Board of Trade has some responsibily. People making fortunes, without breaking a sweat. Commodity prices lower than they were 40 years ago. Reckon what Unions would say if we rolled back wages to prevailing wage of the late 1950's??

Somebody mentioned that farmers should become good businessmen. Well, Duh, if they looked at the reality of the situation, they'd run away from farming. The full time farmers/ranchers I know do it because they love the work and the freedom involved. (Most are willing slaves to their farms/ranches)Ironic in that they work twice as many hours as most Americans, for less money. Some years my last ranching relatives will spend/earn in the six figures, and pay no income tax. You have to earn a profit to pay taxes.

My point, rant nearly over, is that if all the 'welfare' were to disappear, and farmers were forced to survive, well, I have a feeling that a lot of folks would get hungry. Break the independent farmers, yes, even those with price supports, and you break the backbone of the country. Those of us who are trying to be more independent on our small homesteads wouldn't suffer from the fall of the farming community, but lots of friends and relatives would suffer. And I'm not talking about suffering from higher prices. I'm talking about suffering from empty grocery stores. Just one batch of bad weather clears our shelves of that vegetable for weeks. What if these 'bad' businessmen didn't plant at all?

Sorry, I'll shut up now.

-- Phil (, November 17, 2000.

Some farmers would survive, Phil, they survived the Great Depression, they will survive with no welfare also. It's the transition that is the hardest, yes, prices will spike for a while, but a fair market will be allowed to exist, and money will be made for those that make the transition, and survive. If my grandfathers could do it once, it can be done again, but I didn't say it would be easy. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 18, 2000.

I think Phil is right. The farming "industry" has changed, and going back would be extremely difficult. For one thing, there are many, many less people involved in agriculture than there were in our grandparents days. Another thing is most of the productiveness of this country is from the use of chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds which have to be replaced each year. All that costs huge amounts of money, and if the weather doesn't cooperate, the farmer not only does not make a profit, but possibly loses his farm and/or equipment. Small farmers can be productive without those, but small farmers cannot feed the many millions of non-productive people who live in cities (or the country) and do not raise so much as one piddly little tomato. There would be enormous food shortages that would last many, many years.

-- (, November 18, 2000.

How could there be enormous food shortages, any more than there are steel shortages, sneaker shortages, clothing shortages, etc., etc. We are not the only nation in the world that produces great volumes of commodities, if there were some reason that we were "short" of commodities at any one time, it could easily be imported. Tons and tons come in all the time, every day. Annie in SE OH.

-- Annie Miller (, November 18, 2000.

I doubt that there would be severe food shortages. There would be a severe change in what we eat. More seasonal, locally grown produce, fewer fresh strawberries and plastic tomatoes in January. There is more than enough agricultural land within a few hours of most major cities to provide a wealth of food for them. Just not the food they are used to now.

I really do not expect to see these changes occur in the short term, but as transportation costs increase and smaller farmers and marketers expand their reach, it will change. There will still be multi thousand acre grain farms, but there is also plenty of opportunity to make a living on a much smaller scale. It is being done now, and will continue to be done.

-- ray s (, November 18, 2000.

Annie and others, I have not the slightest doubt the farmer would survive. It's all the yahoos who think milk comes from a jug and steak comes from a package that will have a problem surviving. I can grow enough for myself without problem...I cannot grow enough to make a living at it, at least a living comparable with minimum wage workers, and that's why I realized it was futile to try.

And for farmers or ranchers going on strike. Get more than two farmers/ranchers together in a coffee shop and try to get them to agree on more than the obvious stuff. There a mighty independent bunch of folks, who don't like anyone tellin what to do. If they got a price for their goods commensurate with production costs, they'd be wealthy. But the vagaries of the market six months from now, the hit or miss of weather, insects, disease, all take their toll. The price supports don't make em rich, it pays the bills, and the loans to the banks.

Personally it wouldn't bother me if they stopped producing, maybe it'd make the consuming public appreciate them a little more. A person used to cheap vittles suddenly paying as much as they do for their car would turn their heads. But then again, I know some folks who buy that much food each month already.

-- Phil (, November 18, 2000.

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