Economics

Mrs. B and I are reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

“He’s got all the latest toys … Billy’s in debt up to his eyballs.” George believes he’s managed to survive on the farm by steering clear of debt, nursing along his antique combine and tractor, and avoiding the trap of expansion.

“I’m getting 220 bushels an acre on that seed,” [Billy] boasted. “How’s that compare, George?”

George owned he was getting something just south of two hundred, but he was too polite to say what he knew, which was that he was almost certainly clearing more money per acre growing less corn more cheaply.

Yesterday, Mrs. B and I were visited by the farmer (Mr. Y) who’s going to farm our 28 acres. Mr. Y farmed it for the folks we bought the farm from. And it turns out that the land used to be owned by his great-grandfather, so he’s been involved in farming it since he was 6 years old.

Mr. Y told us much the same thing that George told Michael Pollan in the chapter quoted above — the new toys and new seeds really don’t seem to be worth it.

Reading about the recent history of agricultural economics makes me wonder what our farm’s economics will look like. Neither of us really expects farming to do anything more than be a hobby that pays us back a little bit, in addition to (hopefully) making the world a slightly better place. (“Leave it better than you found it.”) But it’d be nice if we could make a living from farming. Will we be able to, growing for market? I guess we’ll see.

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