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Farming fraught with risks and rewards

February 20, 2015
Estherville News

If there was a common theme running through the presentations at the North Iowa Agriculture Summit at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg Thursday, it was the impact of today's challenges on the future of agriculture.

And there are certainly challenges. The high cost of inputs such as seed, cash rent and fertilizer that came with increased commodity prices have had no correction. As soybeans and corn, in particular, went up, so did associated costs. As commodities went heavily toward the supply side and prices fell, the cost of inputs remained the same. As one of the presenters at the summit put it, with seed staying at the same price, it's costing a lot more per acre. The only bright spot about input costs seems to be cheaper diesel fuel, and we all know that won't last forever.

Against the backdrop of expensive inputs, farmers who are ready to retire are looking at the fruit of their labor and that of the previous generations. Not all of their children want to farm. Many want to remain in jobs in the city, some far away from the land they grew up on. And no one blames them for that. They've chosen the career paths they want, and due chiefly to the lessons of a good work ethic they learned on the farm, they'll succeed brilliantly in whatever fields they choose.

Young farmers who stand to inherit the family farm face a number of decisions, often conflicting. Are they going to continue with the family farm because it's a good business or are they doing it because that's what the generations before them did. While wanting to continue the family legacy is indeed admirable, that emotion needs to be tempered with good, sound decision-making.

Farmers by definition are independent. They like their privacy. That's why they farm. If you tried to cage them in an office environment, many of them would probably act like a penned bull.

That's why the Ag Summit was so valuable. It brought together like-minded people who could discuss ideas and see where they've been and where they're headed and why farming just might be the best way for them to make a living - not that they needed any reassurance.

We need more events like this in our area. They're valuable, not just from an information standpoint, but also because they give farmers a chance to share their ideas and interests and know that farming is the best thing they could possibly do.



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