Farmers across the county have pretty well wrapped up their fall harvest. Soybean yields will be within 10 percent of normal while corn yields will be about 60 – 70 percent of average.
Will the yields mean farmers will be setting higher food prices to consumers?
Commodity prices rise and fall every day, but farmers have nothing to do with setting food prices unless they are selling directly to consumers at their own farm, farmers market or as part of a group farmers market. On average, more than 80 percent of the cost of food at the grocery store is attributed to marketing and transportation costs, that of which a farmer gets nothing.
So what are the farmers going to be doing this winter now that harvest has been completed?
During the winter, crop farmers spend their time planning and preparing for the next year. They will service equipment, market stored grain and spend time with their families. One of their most important tasks during the winter is to decide their business strategies for the upcoming year. This includes going over data from the previous season to determine what seed, fertilizer and management practices to use the following year. They also participate in various farm group and commodity group meetings and education seminars. Livestock farmers spend the winter doing what they do every day, caring for their animals.
Food and agriculture is Ohio’s top industry, contributing $93.8 billion to Ohio’s economy with actual farm gate receipts of $7.2 billion. There are 75,700 farms in the state with the average farm size being 188 acres. Ohio has a total of 14.3 million acres of land in farms.
The modern farm is much different than those of our grandparents. A number of pressures, including record high production costs, food safety concerns and strict regulations are forcing the average-sized farmer to make choices about the size and scope of his or her operation. Some choose to grow larger, while others choose to downsize and find their place in a niche market.
The terms “small” and “large” in agriculture can be misleading because USDA definitions are based on sales, not size. A small acreage farm producing a high-value product may be defined by USDA as large, while a larger farm with lower sales may fit in USDA’s “small” category.
While the number and size of farms are in a state of constant fluctuation, there are advantages to both choices. Local food movements, consumer demand for niche products and specialization has opened the door for small-scale farmers. And farmers choosing to expand create jobs and income for local economies, tax revenue for support of local schools and infrastructure, and provide an opportunity for the next generation of farmers to get started in their career.
In Darke County there are 1770 farms averaging 192 acres in size. An acre is about the size of a football field. There are 351,000 acres of farmland in Darke County.
As we continue to reflect on those things that we are thankful, remember your local farmer. Farmers today represent less than 1 percent of the US population but are responsible for providing the food needs for the world’s population.
Information in today’s newsletter comes to us from the USDA and the American Farm Bureau Association.
For more detailed information, visit the Darke County OSU Extension web site at http://darke.osu.edu, the OSU Extension Darke County Facebook page or contact Sam Custer at 937.548.5215.
Sam Custer is the Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the Darke County OSU Extension office. He can be reached at 937-548-5215 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.