Friday, July 12, 2013

Who Will Farm?

The average age of a farmer is now 57 years old and the fastest growing group is those over 65.  Those alone are 25% of all farmers!  Why do farmers work past normal retirement age?

"Working beyond retirement is a fairly common refrain these days — but farmers seem to work longer than most. In the last Agriculture Census, 25 percent of all farm operators were over age 65 compared with 5 percent of the overall U.S. work force.

Why do farmers keep working? For one thing, modern machinery makes it easier to work longer.  “It’s more you use your mind rather than your back, so you can go longer,” said Mike Duffy, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University.

Duffy said there’s also an economic incentive. Many farmers are making more money today than just about any time in their careers thanks to higher yields and high grain prices.

But there’s something else about farmers. In surveys of farmers in Iowa, Duffy has learned that regardless of the money or new technology, some farmers will just never quit.  “Farmers are farmers,” Duffy said. “And that’s who they identify themselves as. They’ll leave horizontal.”

Bob Hawthorn is that kind of farmer. At 84, Hawthorn’s hands and face are weathered. This year, spring came late, so on a bright April afternoon he was in a hurry to get corn and soybeans planted on his 2,000-acre farm in the Loess Hills of western Iowa.

Hawthorn braced himself against the wind in the back of his red pickup and unstrung the top of a bag of seed corn. After nearly 60 years on the farm, he said, neighbors ask how long he plans to continue.  “They keep bugging me,” Hawthorn said. “They say, ‘When are you gonna quit?’ I think I’ll tell ’em I won’t quit farming till all hell freezes over. Something like that.”

I know how the man feels.  Dad sure felt like that and planned his next crop on his death bed.  Maybe I will do that, maybe not.  I like to travel too much so maybe one day I'll give it up.

I am already planning for next year so I guess not now.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/07/09/4335760/the-aging-american-farmer-who.html#storylink=cpy

Maybe little Joshua asleep on the seed bags will get his chance one day.

Ed Winkle

3 comments:

  1. I've said it before "farming is like the mafia, there is only one way out."

    "I thought I was out but it pulled me back in" when dad got sick....I wasn't happy away from the farm and it only took me less then a year to figure that out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Joshua is my neice and husbands son. Got lots of good comments on the picture.

    I never could get away from it but it is so much more satisfying farming your own land in my experience.

    Ed

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