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  • Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Is a Crisis Coming in U.S. Agriculture?

    From the Texas Farm Bureau:

    Agriculture today is facing a major catastrophe not experienced since the Dust Bowl days of the Great Depression. Based on expert economic projections, for the first time in decades, many U.S. farmers cannot possibly "cash flow" a crop or crops for the year 2006. Bankers are saying "No." Many of us will not be able to farm this year or the next. The doubling and tripling of fuel and petrochemical prices are the last link in a chain of bad economic events.

    ...

    For farmers, a Katrina-like disaster is building. It will soon swamp many family farming operations. Astronomical fuel prices, fertilizer and chemical costs have reached the point that even a modest profit is impossible.

    Farmers are receiving the lowest price for commodities that myself or most farmers can remember. Farmers are a proud group, usually not willing to protest. This time, I hope someone is listening. We are literally at the end of the turn row. That's a metaphor for desperation. Agriculture is in serious trouble.

    A friend of mine and long-time Central Texas farmer sums up the current crisis in a unique way: "It's a lot easier to do nothin' for nothin' than somethin' for nothin'." Why invest huge amounts, work from daylight to dark and struggle for a profit when you know you have no chance?

    What if, one by one, many farmers are forced into the painful decision that they can't afford to plant this year and the next? How many such decisions will it take to produce, nation-wide, the bare grocery shelves brought about by Katrina and Rita?

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