Farmers at the Crossroads


Country MoonFarmers’ worlds have changed. Gone are the days when you looked out over farmers’ fields and saw only corn, soybeans, wheat, oats and hay. Changing weather patterns, economic issues and different lifestyles have all changed the role of a farmer. The crops are more varied now, specialty crops like tomatoes, cabbage, carrots, kale, potatoes and others have encroached on the traditional farm crops.

Part of the reason for this is that machinery has gotten bigger and more sophisticated. What once took a week to do can now be accomplished in a day or two. I remember my Dad’s two-row corn picker and now sometimes the norm is 16-row corn heads. Sometimes you wonder how they can even turn the big machinery around in a small field.

Another reason that farmers are diversifying is that they want to keep the farm in the family and that means adding new income sources. Gone are the days that Mom and Dad just turned the family farm over to the kids. They now need more acres and more sources of revenue to support more than one household.

It also used to be just a fact that kids would follow in their folks’ farming footsteps. Many are leaving farms today to seek careers in other fields. New technology and challenges and more opportunities are needed to entice them to stay on the home place.

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So, many farmers are at a crossroads these days. They need to diversify or die. The truth is sad but true. The good news is that there are some exciting and creative ventures out there to give new life to old acres and to bring added income to the family farm. Sometimes these new ideas can coincide with mainstream farming with only a few tweaks.

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