Saturday, July 12, 2014

A few words from the farm before bedtime.

It was payday today.  For a farmer that means selling at the market. The big farmers are in a whole different game than we are, but the facts on the ground are the same.  You plant, grow, and try to meet your buyers price in the market.  When we go to market and sell crops for cash we get paid for our work.  It's that simple.  But it's not that easy.

Somebody once said that Farmers are the only business people expected to make a profit buying retail and selling wholesale.  What that means is that farmers pay fixed retail costs for seed, machines, fertilizer, bank loans, hardware, mechanics, clothing, electricity, food and fuel. But the price for the animal or vegetable crop can be set by the buyer - before it's produced for market.  In Iowa, the State has just redefined the laws to make it clear that a farmer, working on contract for a big agricultural corporation, is actually an employee of that company.

What does that mean? Let me give you an example.  If I were a hog farmer under contract with ABC Corporation, the corporation would buy and own the little pigs I raise for them to market.  They would give me explicit instructions about the conditions under which I would raise their hogs. The stock barns and buildings, infrastructure, drugs and antibiotics applied, feed requirements. It would all be spelled out and the price set in advance. If they decide the farmer hasn't met their contract - they can cancel it. In essence firing the farmer "employee" before delivery. And the State has mandated that the farmer is a contract employee who agrees to take all the risk. Win or lose.  You can see where this leads.

And then there is our farmers' market. I've had several people ask, "Will you please grow chickens for me?" A lady at the market began scolding me because there were no more organic eggs for her to buy.  I apologized and explained I'd sold all I had in the first 2 hours. My hens lay the only certified organic eggs in the county. "When will you have organic new potatoes?" Next week I said.

We sold out our stock of everything we brought to market today. And we got the retail price.
If you want to know how to create local food security, I believe I've got some ideas.





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