Farm Bill

Everyone sure seems happy the farm bill got passed.  I don’t know anything about what is in it and don’t really care.

The thing that I would be interested in is people’s attitude about how important it is to agriculturalists’ success.

I had some real good things set up in my morals when I was younger.

First my grandfather Leonard Frank was really against borrowing money.  It was not the borrowing that he did not like, but he felt by working and saving and starting small and growing you grew your skill ahead of your business and therefore could maintain and improve the business.  The farther along I get in this life I am seeing how smart he really was (ornery, but smart).

My father Tex Pate was very good at seeing a good business and then learning how to make it work.  He was not afraid to borrow money, but was real serious about getting out of debt.

Lee Pitts had a big impact on me as we got his paper The Livestock Digest. He was outspoken about things in the beef industry and I liked his philosophy at the time when I was just starting to think about things in the cattle industry.

Then I read a book titled The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton.  It is a tragic book about the drought in the 50’s.  Charlie Flagg is the main character, and he is very set in his ways and does not believe in government programs.

I totally agree.  When you put your hand out to the government to pay or partially pay for something it will most likely cost you money or effect your business negatively somehow, but it is just so hard to turn down something that appears to be for nothing.  This is a thing that is very hard to see, especially when everyone is justifying it.  Nothing is for nothing.

Most of us know there will be a drought in whatever part of the country you live in.  Before all the assistance programs you kept your numbers down, and the feed reserves up just in case, or were willing to sell animals to match available feed.  When we started getting disaster assistance it changed the grazing programs, cattle numbers, land prices, age of ranchers, type of equipment, number of auction markets, added to the national debt,  and caused a ripple effect across the entire cattle industry.

From what I see we have become a nation that lives beyond our means and our country can’t support all the things we all think we are entitled too.  This goes from farmers to auto manufacturers to folks that have lost their job.  I would be willing to bet this is going to change.  It has to and it should.

I learned this the hard way.  I got into a situation that I had to make a payment on a grazing operation based on paying for it as the cattle grazed.  A very extreme drought caused us to reduce numbers and remove cattle early.  It did not cover the mortgage and it’s a good thing I had another income.  I was sold on a deal that couldn’t lose.  But in the back of my mind I could hear my Grandpa saying, “You had to be a big shot.”

Like I have said before when I share an opinion if you don’t feel the same that’s fine with me. These are just my thoughts and it really is not that big of a deal to me if you agree or disagree. I don’t farm the government and never have.  I got a check for $700 dollars and tore it up and threw itin the garbage. I had no idea what it was for. I also let a neighbor talk me into letting him get some money from the government for some farming he did for me. The money came to me and I gave the check to him, but I did not like it.

This is a really tough deal.  Every one says how tough it is to make it these days in agriculture. I disagree.  It is really tough to make it these days if you go borrow money that is impossible to pay back.  It is tough to make it if you don’t do the things that make money in this day and age.  Just because everyone else is doing it a certain way may be a good reason to do it a different way.

It seems we think you must get big to make it these days. I disagree. Start small, gain knowledge and resources, and then try to stay small.  If you are really good that will be the biggest challenge.  The better we get at something the more we challenge the limits and then we either are not as successful or quality of life suffers.

I hope you will read The Time It Never Rained.  I hope you will take pride in the fact that you are making good decisions that will help you prosper on your own.  Then when the time comes and this old country comes down hard on us, like it did to our friends in the North last fall, we can all pitch in and give the kind of help that really works – prayers, physical help and spare money, or commodities from friends and neighbors.  Our founding Fathers, our ancestors, and Charlie Flagg would be proud of that.

~ Curt Pate

3 thoughts on “Farm Bill

  1. saraannon

    I enjoy your posts immensely and re-posted this on a linkedin group talking about sustainability and belief systems. When the guy with the tattoos, the one with the drum, AND the guy with the manure on his boots, start talking to each other I’ll start having hope for positive changes! Here’s to a few people on the consuming end being willing to take a look at what being on the producing end really entails.

  2. (Buddy) Larry Deen

    Very good post and enjoyed how it hit home. So many farmers and rachers are just looking for a fast tract to the dollar bill. We have a small cattle and hay operation along with a job that allows me to work 21 and 21 days at a time. Have a daughter that works with thr NRCS and is always saying how they can provide me with extra money. Guess I’m a little old fasioned and do not want anything from anyone. The year of 2011 was hard on us for daught. Folks were selling round bales of hay for two hundred dollars a bale. I could not do that, but had limited hay supply for myself. Thanks again.

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