You can’t win them all, I guess

In the you-can?t-win-them-all department: K-State finally beats KU in Bramlage, then loses at Mizzou. New England can?t finish with an unbeaten season in Super Bowl XLII.

  • This is one Super Bowl where the game was better than the commercials. I thought the best ad was the toddler talking about his investments and hiring a clown from his earnings.

  • Ham and green bean soup is one of my favorites. It takes about three hours to finish one bowl?10 minutes to eat it and the rest of the time to pick the ham out of your teeth.

  • The following is from a blog by Jack Schultz, author of Boomtown USA, which I thought would be worth passing along.


Second Oldest Profession

No, I didn?t mean it that way! Here is my question: What is the second oldest aged profession in the USA? If you answered farmers, you would be correct. At 58 years of age, it is second only to drawbridge operators. We are neither building many drawbridges, nor is there much of a future for advancement in that field. So why is farming not attracting young people while keeping old folks on the farm?

I raised these questions during my talk to rural legislators from around the country at the SARL (State Agriculture and Rural Leaders) Conference in St. Louis. My third key in BoomtownUSA was Leveraging Your Resources and I think that many rural communities have some largely underexploited resources at their disposal. The problem is that these resources never get developed either for lack of vision, money or both.

I also think it is much easier to step out on a limb when you are 30 than when you are 70, so to fully exploit agricultural potential it is imperative to get more young people into the game.

Where did we go so wrong, so fast? In Iowa (and the rest of the states are very similar) the percentage of farmers under 35 years of age went from 20 percent in 1987 to 1 percent only 15 years later. Meanwhile, the number over the age of 65 more than doubled from 16 percent to 35 percent.

Essentially we went from one young farmer matched with one older farmer in 1987 to a 35:1 ratio of old to young in only 15 years!

Look at some of the other stats: 90 percent of farmers either work off of the farm or are over 65 years of age; 48 percent of the land is owned by people over the age of 65 (24 percent over 75); 20 percent is owned by heirs out of state.

It doesn?t make sense to me that we?ve got farmers still farming into such late years especially when you consider that farming continues to be one of the most hazardous professions.

One participant at the SARL Conference told me, ?I know of one 101-year-old that is still farming with his 82-year-old son.?

My blame for this demographic imbalance is the continuing progression of farm bills that both raise the cost of entry from farm subsidies being factored into higher land costs and discourage young innovative farmers from looking at alternative crops, techniques and enterprises because of the safety in sticking to the subsidized ones.

Payment caps that have been proposed would only aggravate the situation, resulting in numerous, often bogus firms and partnerships being set up that evade the letter of the law but that get around all barriers put forth by legislators.

One immediate result would be an increase in the cash renting of land as opposed to more crop sharing, which helps to spread the risk of farming over both the landlord and farmer.

I would love to see rural communities blossom with a growth in new farmers. We could do that in this country if we refocused a small portion of the gigantic farm subsidies away from the traditional large commodity crops and instead focused them upon developing new, young farmers in niche and specialty areas.

We?d still produce the same amount of corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton but we?d have an opportunity to bring back more farmers into our small towns, the type of farmers who would need a local hardware store, ag input supplier and other small businesses that today are lacking in too many towns.

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