Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who Is Mother Jones?

Our friend and blog helper Chimel posted this interesting piece from Mother Jones.  Whether you like them or this or not, they wrote an insightful article on the problem with "commodity farming."

Give the article a read.  I don't know of any large agribusiness firms owning farm ground in my region unless you consider the large family farm operations here as "large agribusiness firms."

My friend Jay and I talked about local farming practices and how hard it is for little guys like us to even try to farm.  He is looking at trading his nice, newer 6 row John Deere planter for a 12 row just to increase his efficiency.  Besides, he said "I doubt you can even order a 6 row or 8 row corn planter unless it is a special order."  I haven't tried but imagine he is correct.

Control of land around here is mainly in the hands of the largest farmers.  If a piece becomes available, they snap it up as owned or rented ground.  The recent sale of a very good 200 acre farm near Sabina is an example.  It brought $10,200 per acre and a large family operation bought it.  I asked who bid them up?  There was a standing offer for $7500 from the large family that is farming it and that offer was never seriously considered.  The result shows why.

It is a very interesting and thought provoking article.  The soybean price chart shows the problem producing our most valuable crop in this region, soybeans.  Our soil and weather is very conducive to produce high value soybeans.  Yet, most of our local acres are traited and do go into feed or fuel or possibly cooking oil.

Who is producing the food LuAnn and I purchase on the outside row of our local Kroger store?  No one around here, for sure.  You have to raise a garden or shop at local farmers markets and freeze and can the produce for the rest of your eating year.  69 million people a day eat at McDonald's they said on the news last night at dinner time.  I don't think they are eating what we are, either!  I can't remember the last time we ate at McDonald's!

Who is Mother Jones and where will we be in 20 years?  The trend they report seems to be in trenched in American agriculture.

Ed Winkle


  1. Mother Jones is a left-wing magazine. It is named after a labor organizer from the 1800. It started out as a counter-culture magazine in the 1970's. They often do investigative journalism.
    This is an interesting article to appear in Mother Jones, (in my opinion) It is interesting that they are comparing the cost of inputs and the costs of production and the commodity prices.
    Of course you do realize that any farm over 100 acres is considered "agri-business" by the readers of Mother Jones. So yes, you are part of the "problem," and so am I.
    And yes the large "family farms," in your area are part of the problem.
    However, in many parts of the world, farm ground is being purchased by the large corporations who you are selling your soy beans and corn to.
    Why wouldn't the consolidation that happened in the swine and chicken and cattle industries happen to commodity crops?
    I sell hay to a hispanic fellow who tells me big companies are buying land in Mexico to grow the vegetables you are buying at Krogers.
    Don't take this personally but... you are not a small farmer. You are small in comparison to the mega-farmers around you but again, a "small farmer" really 100 acres or less. Think about the farms when you were a kid. How much of your farm do you use to feed yourself? Are you self-sufficient?
    We are the smallest traditional farm in the neighborhood but we are not really a "small farm."
    I've been selling chicken and pig feed to "small farmers" in my area. There is a growing movement of small farms but they do not fit into the traditional agriculture culture and you don't see them.

  2. Very very good points, Budde. I couldn't say it any better. I had your opinion but I wanted to hear it from someone else other than me.

    We are not self sufficient but we live out of our freezers, meat from friends since we don't raise livestock, we travel.

    Vegetables and fruit from our own farm and others nearby.

    We believe in buying local.

    Today we hope to buy 12 little pumpkins from a neighbor farmer to sit on our front porch. One for each little precious grand child.

    Ed Winkle

  3. Haha, "commodity farmers" don't make nearly the same money as commodity traders...

    The magazine was named in the honor of Mary Harris Jones, the "most dangerous woman in America" or the "grandmother of all agitators" according to the Establishment. She died in 1930 and fought relentlessly to improve miners and minors rights, at a time when children were working in coal mines, when a Rockefeller coal company's security guards and the National Guard shot and burned a miners camp in the early 1900s, in which 2 women and 11 children burnt to death in a single tent, and many more besides.

    The magazine created in the 70s used to be very political but has switched to even more general themes about a dozen years ago, including for instance the environment, which gave us great articles about climate change this week, or a few years back, the excellent article showing how ExxonMobil is funding climate change deniers. When you think there are persons who do it for free! ;)

    "MoJo" won several prestigious journalism awards since that shift. I never read the magazine (it's also been available online since 1993, the first generalist magazine to do so), but sometimes happen on some of their online articles. Maybe I should read it more! But the picture of Uncle Larry is too scary: ;)

  4. Wow, I knew Mother Jones had a varied history but not that varied!


    Ed Winkle