I was excited to have been invited to the banquet hosted in New Albany. I found that the menu was on the wall. The dinner would start with roast breast of commercial equipment. There was a side of buttered chopped credit cards. Dessert was chocolate covered semiconductor chips.
Since 1970 our farmland has been disappearing faster than post-election promises. The average farm has increased from just over 400 acres to 440 acres. While it is true that yields for some crops have increased so has the United States population from 205 million to 331 million. The number of farmers continues to decline. Farm votes are not regularly courted by either party.
When was the last time you heard a politician, whether national or statewide, mention the importance of agriculture? The answer, most likely, is never. We talk about the poor of this country being food insecure; however, it is possible if we keep going in our current direction, we may all be food insecure. Because of the current military action in Ukraine, wheat has become high priced and in short supply. American farmers cannot immediately change what they are growing to feed the needs our citizens.
Congress has not provided the assistance needed to keep our farms going and growing. Because of the land grab for high-tech firms, and home developments the cost of land has become beyond the reach of the young agronomist. These young people, in many cases, have already spent large amounts of money on college agronomy educations. If they attempt to inherit farms, there are tax consequences if the total estate exceeds $12 million. The tax exemption can be doubled if the estate is left to a man and wife. The federal government has finally figured out farmers deserve some advantages. Farms of 2,000 acres in our area can be worth many millions of dollars. Farmers can enter into estate planning creating trust agreements to make the passing of farms at death much easier.
To build the semiconductor chip factories the state of Ohio is throwing in $2 Billion in direct and indirect aid. Small towns in the path of this undertaking will likely spend millions of dollars to handle traffic, schools, and the quality of life.
Farms do not have any of the dollar advantages afforded to new high-tech development. They are dependent on the price of land, the prices on the Board of Trade, and what I call weather roulette. Weather is continually becoming less predictable than it was fifty years ago, Couple that with the enormous cost of farm equipment, and one can feel lucky that we have any food available.
Farmers continue to produce food from the field and the barn against tremendous odds. They do not ask for much from society. They need fairly priced loans each year to get the crops in the field and the understanding from Americans that we can produce all the chips imaginable powering our cars, smart phones, and electronic gadgets but without food we will not last long enough to use those items.
Write Mike Sussman at firstname.lastname@example.org.