Down on the Farm

September 25, 2014

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

Down on the farm in Illinois. That’s where I was last week. We started our corn harvest – a little wet (27% moisture), but time to start. It is a bumper crop, that’s why prices are down.

While on the farm, a lot of thoughts come to my mind. Every year, we try to do everything in the production process right. The one thing that we cannot control is the weather, but this year, the weather cooperated. Next year could be a different story.

We have production advantages we didn’t have in years past. The corn is genetically engineered to reject root worms that used to seriously cut yields. The weeds aren’t a problem, even though we use less chemicals fighting the weeds. One trip over spraying the fields and weeds be gone. We don’t have to cultivate or hire high school kids to hoe the bean fields. The result is less labor, less fuel, less of everything except yield. The yield goes up. If we want to protect the environment and feed the world, we must use all the new technology. I remember how my father farmed when I was a boy. It was hard.

Now, let’s go to the hog barn. Baby pigs born every day. We had 4 litters the first day – big litters – 48 new babies. The next day, we had 1 little but what a litter – 20 pigs born – 18 alive. I have raised pigs all my life and cannot remember a little of 18 live babies. So what do you do? That mother cannot raise 18 pigs. She only has 12 nipples to drink. You may not know, but every baby will select his own teat and will not share it with any of his brothers or sisters.

Here is what we did. We found a mother sow with pigs ready to wean (more than 3 weeks old). We weaned her pigs away and gave her 9 of the new born babies. She happily accepted her new responsibility and became a nurse sow just like that. We try to find a way to save all the little ones we can. Hog producers do this all the time.

I hear the animal rights people criticizing how farmers and ranchers care for their animals. Yes, there are exceptions, but we do the best we can to keep our animals healthy, comfortable, and happy. Animals that are stressed and mistreated will not gain weight, will not be good mothers. There is every incentive to save every pig, every calf. Feed them exactly the most balanced ration. Get them to market. Bacon is in demand.

The roller coaster farming business is a challenge, but I love it.

Be safe this harvest and I am John Block down on the farm.