Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Fields Are Slighty Damp...

(Okay, sorry for the late post again ... VBS is really messing with my schedule)

I guess the fields are a little more than slightly damp ... most are drenched and many are flooded! That has a few possible impacts to the row crop farmers. First of all there are still a small number of fields that haven't been planted yet and the mud/flooding isn't helping in that regard. Secondly, the water covered fields can/will hamper the yield. And finally, because of the extreme flooding many farmers will have to replant their fields. All of the water and flooding has led to corn above $7 a bushel (check out this article).

Of course $7 corn is a good thing for the farmers who have their crops in and aren't going to have to replant, but it doesn't help much for those that have to replant or the livestock farmers. And, because our farms have become so focused on a single type of farming (row crops or hogs or cattle ...) the pain is going to be felt by everyone ... including the consumers.

Because of higher grain prices we are also going to see a drop in the cattle/hog numbers which will in turn cause higher meat prices. So ... farmers will feel it ... packers will feel it ... and consumers will feel it. But, does it have to be like that? What if our cattle were grass-fed? Would that make a difference? What if our farms weren't so specialized? Would that make a difference.

Check out the article and then lay your thoughts on me!


Yeoman said...

If cattle were grass fed, would that make a difference?

Probably, as the price of feed corn wouldn't be factored into the retail price.

If farms were more diversified, would that make a difference?

Harder to say. It might, and might not. You'd still have some large single product farms out there. Wheat farms and corn farms, for example, might still be single product in a lot of areas.

When farms were more diversified, that was partially because the were self sustaining to a degree, which is no longer the case. As far as the effect on the market price, however, I don't think know that we can make an effective analysis under this scenario.

Ethan Book said...

Yeoman - I do believe the price of feed would be lower if we had grass-fed beef (as it was meant to be). As far as the diversification thing ... I do think we would be better off because when price crunches came then farmers could feed their own grains to their own livestock ... just like they used to. That doesn't mean everything would be perfect, but I do think it would be easier to bridge the valleys.

Yeoman said...


You might well be right.

If there was an overall shift to grass fed beef, I suppose what we would see is this. The need for farming feed would be greatly reduced. It wouldn't be wholly eliminated, as in some areas some sort of feeding would go on, to be sure.

The reduction in acreage devoted to feed would likely be met, in part, with a return of some fields to grass. That's already happened in some areas of the Mid West, but it would happen on a larger scale.

On a totally different topic, are you folks doing okay out there? We keep hearing about the flooding, and it sounds horrific.

Steven said...

Yeah Ethan how is the flooding?
We had a really bad flood in '93 here on the Mississippi and they're saying that when the water gets here from Iowa it will be within a few feet of that '93 flood.

Ethan Book said...

Yeoman and Steven - The flooding is horrible. We are high and dry in town and just mushy ... mushy ... mushy out at the farm! But, we have a lot of friends and family that have had to evacuate because of the floods. We are just South of Lake Red Rock which is on the Des Moines River. It sounds like it will be higher than in 1993 and in Cedar Rapids at least 100 blocks of downtown is flooded.

Yep, worse than 1993 ... and 1993 set records!

Yeoman said...

Wow. That sounds truly awful. We'll add Iowa to our prayers.

Goodness, this has been quite a year. It's still freezing out here in Wyoming, we had snow this week. Gas prices, floods. Uff.

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