When you’re young, farm auctions are fun. When you get older you realize a farm auction means another farmer has gone under. When your young, smart, hard-working neighbor has an auction it’s tragic. Last year was tough for farmers and many are going out of business and selling all their equipment this winter.
When I went out to get the paper yesterday morning, a line of pickups already stretched a quarter-mile to the west and trucks lined one side of our narrow road for a half mile to the east. They kept coming until both sides of the road had almost a mile of parked trucks on both sides.
Our young neighbor had taken a loan, rented some land and started farming on his own 15 years ago. He’d been working on other people’s farms all his life and finally got his chance when an older farmer decided to start a liquor store and rent out his land.
Now he will go back to work as a hired hand on one of the growing megafarms in our county. Federal farm policy makes it easy for the big boys to get bigger. To do so, they have to put other farmers out of business.
Increasingly the best land in our country is owned by non-farmers. People who don’t really know how to manage the land and are often mostly interested in the rent payment.
There is nothing resilient about a system which runs smaller farmers out and helps non-farmers get control of their land. Some of us are fighting to create a more resilient agriculture in the US. Join us at National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.