Farming Problems

The complexion of farming is changing radically. The land cannot support as many
farm families as it did in an earlier time. Small farms are being consolidated
into larger ones. General farms, with several kinds of crops and a barnyard of
farm animals, are yielding to specialty farms that concentrate on a single major
crop. Family farms are declining; corporate farms are increasing. Efficiency is
growing. Crops are changing. Techniques are improving. Just as the train,
tractor, truck, and airplane changed farm life in the past, the computer and
robotics are expected to change farm life in the future (AOL, 1997). And the
outcome of this is that during the early 1980's and continuing, the farmer's
source of income is indeed being stripped from him. What was once the only means
of survival for these farmers, has now become distant memory. Farming techniques
are undergoing tremendous changes. Farming will surely become more efficient
throughout the world. It will also become more scientific and, in the process
perhaps lose some of its romance. People who formerly lived on farms and have
fond memories of their rural childhood will barely recognize the new farms. For
farmers of the future, it will not be enough to know how to drive a tractor and
plow a straight furrow. Farmers must change with the industry, as it becomes
increasingly more sophisticated. The farmer must become more of a specialist to
compete in the marketplace. This is a reason why many of today's farm families
are on a decline; that is, that today's farmers are not able to purchase the
latest machinery or equipment, for they have to be cautious about where they put
their money. The 1980's sometimes referred to as the "farm crisis"
decade of the 1980's, while the 1970's were referred to as the "boom
years". It was in this time period that farms expanded in size and farm
numbers dropped. But in the 1980's, two unusual things happened. First, older
farmers seemed to stay in farming longer. Some who might have retired didn't
want to sell their land in a depressed market, unless forced by a lender.

Second, some middle aged farm families with children who might succeed them
quit, or discourage their children from pursuing a farming career. Other younger
farmers who had recently borrowed to start farming or to expand their businesses
were caught in the interest rate squeeze and forced out of business (Looker

1996, pp9). This fed the decline of family farms, for children, who grew up on
farms, did not wish to take upon a career as a farmer, but venture into the city
looking for better work and wages, effects that the farm life couldn't give. The
decline of the family farm has been heralded for decades, as growing numbers of
people moved from the country top the city, and then to the suburbs. According
to an article in the USA Today, a 32-year-old dairy farmer from Fort Plain,

N.Y., says " You can get an 8 to 5 job, make a good living and still have
(spare) time, and in the dairy business, there are huge cycles in prices. Just
about the time you've caught up from a down cycle, another one comes
along". This illustrates why young people are leaving the farm in search
for better living conditions and money. Both the farmers and the academic
experts talk about the key role of money in the decline of the family farm.
" The evolution towards larger farms and more sophisticated equipment puts
the initial investment far out of reach for most young people". "It's
not a small business anymore", says John Scott, farm management and land
economics professor at the University of Illinois-Champaign. "And because
farming is risky dependant on the weather, at the mercy of crop and livestock
diseases and victim of wild price swings-banks are unwilling to lend money to
finance startup operations, especially after the disastrous defaults of the late

1970's and early 1980's, when high interest rate plowed under many farms and
left lender without uncorrectable debts". (USA Today) This shows us how
hard it is for farmers to receive credit, to keep the operation of a farm
working. And without this credit, many farmers face the inevitable, that is,
closing and selling their farmland. Farmers, however, do receive aid from the

Government, to help them with competing prices. According to an article in the

Philadelphia Tribune, it says that if "the Congressional Budget

Reconciliation Act now awaiting presidential action is enacted, the historical

American farm family will finally vanish". The Reconciliation Act mandates
a $13.4 billion cut