Are you facing some big issues with farming and ranching or even gardening?
Join the club! You aren’t alone. Actually, I’m going to share 5 of those problems in agriculture with you today that many Ruralites with farms, ranches and even gardens are facing.
Ya know, I find it funny how the media and even some writers fantasize rural living as being “simple.” And while rural living is a great lifestyle, it comes with its own challenges to think about. Some of these big challenges, if not tackled or planned for, can cause you to be forced to sell everything you’ve worked so hard for. How is this even simple when there are several issues (weather and farming) that no one can control?
In this post, I’m going to reveal:
- 5 big issues with farming we are facing right now.
- How weather and farming are generally very much dependent upon each other.
- Some decisions and plans in response to problems in agriculture that we are making right now.
Keep in mind that these agricultural problems faced by farmers are interlacing and very related to one another. Also keep in mind that problems farmers face today can be overcame with smarts, faith and grit. In the podcast episode, I talk about how we are embracing some of these issues with farming in order to stay afloat and hold on to what we have and love.
Listen to the Podcast:
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The Issue: No Rain
I’m well aware that drought is an issue that effects everyone. If you drink water, it will affect you in some way. We need water to help our crops and gardens grow and to keep our livestock hydrated.
And also, rain is needed to jump start fish ponds and lakes for our enjoyment. I know many of us have enjoyed an evening fishing but if our lakes and ponds dry up, so do the fish.
Of course, lack of moisture in any form causes drought. The importance of weather and climate to agriculture is quite obvious to most people. But a lot of people don’t realize that the success of a crop and effect of weather on crops all comes down to good timing.
Through the winter, if there’s no snow or ice, crops that overwinter won’t get watered. This includes grass needed for hay for winter feeding. And pasture. This plays into even bigger problems down the road with weather and farming that we couldn’t even see or maybe weren’t prepared for before.
And lack of awareness or planning about weather and farming leads to poor management.
The Issue: Poor Management
Improper planning or management leads to big issues with farming and is probably one of the most troublesome problems in agriculture. I’m talking about management of resources, finances and land. In order to deal with problems in agriculture and rural life we can’t control, we need to always be looking ahead to the future.
For example, we rent pasture in the summer so that our home pasture can rest for fall grazing. In the podcast, I talk about one of our rental pastures that we cannot return to this summer because the grass is already grazed to the ground by his cows through the winter. If it doesn’t rain, there won’t be grass for our cows or his. So, we have to plan for the worst.
His poor management by grazing his cows through the winter results in our loss. This is one less pasture to put our cows on and as a result of the times and the situation, we have to sell the cows that would have gone there.
But worse: Mismanagement will eventually be his loss as well. If pastures can’t recharge, they won’t be the height or have the nutrition needed for the cattle to thrive. This makes it hard to move forward and usually results in having to cut back on cows grazed through the season.
The Issue: Soil Temperature/Weather and Farming
You might be dealing with unseasonably cold weather and farming. Sometimes, air temperatures just happen to be below average. In fact, for three Sundays in April of 2018 there was snow on the ground! Temperatures were in the teens and 20’s.
This greatly hurts soil temperature for planting germination rates. For example, corn needs a 50 degree soil temperature in order to germinate. Yes, it may still germinate but the plants will be stressed and you’ll more than likely see problems through the season. This holds true for many vegetable and crop plants.
Weather and farming can be a lose/lose sometimes.
And this is why it’s really important to try to plant crops on days when the soil temperature is at least what it’s supposed to be.
The same can be told for hot weather and farming as well. And rainy weather. We’re always in the mercy of the weather, it seems like, in Rural America. Typically, we just plant and see what happens and then plan for next year. We have to so that we have what we need for our tables as well as feed for our livestock. Because, honestly, there might not be a next year!
The Issue: Hay and Feed Storages Gone
We try to grow as much food for ourselves as we can. And we also try to grow grain and hay for our livestock and stockpile when we can to overcome the problem of weather and farming.
At harvest, corn and soybeans are taken to the grain bank at the local coop and mixed into feed for our livestock. This helps make our feed cheaper and our returns higher.
And hay is always nice to have on hand.
But during seasons of stress, feed stores deplete more rapidly. This results in big problems in agriculture with our livestock because we have to feed them longer when grass isn’t growing. And we feed them a little bit more when the weather and farming is extreme.
Possibly because we didn’t get as many bales or kernels last growing season. And management comes into play here…we probably should have bought more to last through the season.
But now that Winter is over, we have new extremely big issues with farming and problems in agriculture in general. We’re running out of feed stores for our livestock. Grass season is here but it hasn’t rained so it’s not growing in our pastures. It’s not growing in our hay meadows that we will bale this summer. This goes back to Issue #1 – No Rain.
Once our hay is gone, we will need to go ahead and take the cows to grass and pray that rain will start coming. If it doesn’t, we will be forced to sell our herds.
The Issue: Having to Sell Precious Livestock
Selling cows is usually difficult emotionally. We get attached to our livestock, especially cows.
But we can only keep them for as long as they give us calves and we have food to feed them. If we can’t care for our cows, there’s no point in keeping them. This is a great characteristic that most farmers possess. Caring for their livestock to the point that they can no longer.
In the podcast episode, I talk about our plan for downsizing our herd. The cows that were to be assigned to the pasture that was overgrazed through the winter will be sold first. And then, if it doesn’t rain through the season and grass depletes, we will sell more. Little by little, our cowherd we’ve been working to build for almost 10 years will be sold.
I know we aren’t alone here with these problems in agriculture due to weather and farming poorly. Many of the big issues with farming have resulted in farmers and ranchers having to sell livestock. Many dairy farmers and hog farmers and goat farmers have been forced to sell because of these problems in agriculture.
And I am aware that there are other problems in agriculture in rural America that you might be facing. Fires. Floods. Maybe environmental agencies presenting big issues with farming…specifically your farm. Animal advocate groups. I know they are out there. I see it all the time on social media.
But really, overcoming the big issues with farming all comes back to educating yourself and managing smart. Don’t get in a hurry to sell out. Look for other ways to manage these problems in agriculture first.
In the podcast, I talk about playing the market to your advantage before you are forced to sell. That’s why we are selling a few old cull cows now in hopes that we won’t have to later when the prices are lower.
Overcoming These Problems in Agriculture
So, how do you overcome these big issues with farming? Weather and farming can’t always be controlled.
Well, it takes a few things:
- Faith – Controlling anxieties and mental health by giving problems in agriculture to God.
- Management – Knowing what you have and what resources you have/need.
- Planning – Having a for sure place all drawn out on paper during the worst situations.
Problems in agriculture today and tomorrow will always arise. Like I said in the beginning, rural life and agriculture is not always simple. And as you now know, there are some major issues in agriculture today due to weather that can only be controlled by timing and planning.
Always have Plan B. Also, never ever put all your eggs into one basket. Diversification is a beautiful thing. This is when you dabble into more than one market. For example, dandelions (I’m not even joking).
If you plan and communicate with your team about the big issues with farming, your future will look a lot brighter than it may seem at the time.
Making A Plan for Future Big Issues with Farming
Well, this wasn’t the easiest episode to record or post to write. It hasn’t been easy at all having these conversations. But these conversations need to be made.
Because if you’re going to keep farming, you need your resources. You need rain. And you need to be able to coordinate weather and farming. Awareness of the common problems in agriculture and the big issues with farming can help you to make plans for the what ifs that you might face.
Also, please know that you aren’t alone. I’ve opened up about our struggles to you and the plans we are making so we don’t have to sell out. But if it doesn’t rain, we will have to sell out and it won’t be fun. Weather and farming definitely isn’t always fun. It’s a struggle and it can be a barrier to growth and the dreams we are striving to achieve.
I surely hope that you have enjoyed reading this post about the big issues with farming that affecting all of us in Rural America with gardens, crops and livestock. If you did and know of someone who needs to read and hear the message, please feel free to share.
~ Much Love ~
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