To Whom It Concerns,
There’s a crisis going on right under our noses and many people have no idea.
Farms are selling out; farmer’s dreams are being auctioned off and livelihoods are washing away with the tears of generational farmers.
I’m not sure who will be reading this or what I really expect to happen but I need to pour out my heart so I can see straight.
We are dairy farmers. My husband is 3rd generation and one of our four sons is hoping to continue. Hoping is the key word here.
The price we receive for our milk has been cut drastically over the last few years. It has come back a bit but well under the amount we need to break even let alone make a profit. The experts are predicting at least one more year of these farm-breaking prices.
As dairy farmers, we are used to the roller coaster prices but this dip has been deeper and longer than ever before with no relief in sight.
While our income has been slashed our production, costs are the same or more. We’ve trimmed down and cut back on everything possible.
Some reading this think “oh, that’s too bad” and never give it another thought. Some think “sell out and find another job, no big deal”.
That is comparable to telling a pro-golfer he can never pick up a golf club again, or a race car driver that he will never sit in a car seat again or a mother that she isn’t allowed to care for her children ever again.
I truly believe a farmer is created. There is a seed dropped into the heart of a farmer at the time of conception that God puts there. We were created to care for his critters and tend his land.
Who else will work from before sunup to well past sundown? How many would be willing to work in a cloud of dust and dirt all day? How many professions require being covered in manure, silage juice and cow slime?
Farmers put their animals and farm first. Vacations are what we read about and hear from others. A half day’s work is done before church on Sundays. Ball games, drives in the country, leisurely strolls in the park are foreign to farmers. Oh, there may be a rare event that just happens to fall in between making hay and harvesting corn that can be attended.
Get togethers are always worked around milking times, planting and harvest. And many a supper out has been canceled due to something breaking down at the farm.
Knuckles are bloodied from slipping wrenches, shins are bruised from a well-placed cow hoof, and stitches are the norm when working on that one dang piece of machinery that you are trying to hold together because there just isn’t enough money to replace it.
Add freezing cold temperatures and blowing snow that clogs the road before you can even get one pass done to the mix to make taking care of the farm even harder.
Everything waits for chores – Christmas morning, birthday celebrations are a couple that are put on hold until the last cow is fed or milked.
I have seen three of my four sons eat dirt, clean pieces of hay out of their eyes, cough up dust, and have disks in their backs blown. I have jumped in tractors and choppers to help keep them awake so the field can be done before the rain hits.
Months and months of work and money can be put in the ground only to not receive enough rain or too much rain and lose the whole thing.
Why are prices so low and farming so tough? What’s causing it? Personally, I’m not sure. I’ve heard that the European nations lifting their quota system and too much milk on the market are a couple.
Then let’s add in the fear mongering companies that try to scare the consumer into purchasing their high-priced products. A certain company is slapping their non-GMO sticker on everything that is placed in the grocery store whether or not it could possibly be a GMO product. And there is absolutely no scientific or medical proof that there is anything wrong with GMO foods.
Here we farmers have learned to grow food on less ground, with a smaller footprint, with higher yields and we are getting punished because someone is creating a false premise just to forward their own agenda.
Milk alternatives are slickly packaged and placed side by side with dairy. Some consumers have no idea there is no dairy in these products. I have NO problem with using other food sources for another drink but please don’t piggy back on our dairy. Don’t market that the alternative to dairy is healthier. It’s different.
We are coming from a place of discouragement, exhaustion, and depression. There is a thought that if you are honest and work hard you will be rewarded for your efforts. This is not and has not been happening for farmers in a long time.
We’re tired, sore and quite frankly some of us are scared spit less because we have no answer to the problem. We aren’t even sure what caused the problem and have no idea how to fix it.
We are praying for wisdom and guidance and some feel their prayers are falling on deaf ears.
At a time in our lives when we should be pulling back and slowing down we are working as hard as ever to fill the void that unaffordable employees could fill.
Part of me wants to do everything possible for my son to succeed as the fourth generation. Part of me wants to tell him to run – as fast and as far as he can from the farm.
But then, I realize that seed that started in his great grandfather and before has sprouted and is growing inside him.
Trusting God, seeking wisdom is our first and last hope.
If you eat, wear clothing, sit on furniture, take medicine then you have farmers to thank for that. Considering life without farmers would be non-existent, please take some time to pray for us.
If anyone reading this has any constructive, credible suggestions, please share.
While I have gotten this off my chest it is still in my heart.