Farmers are challenged every year

Mar 17, 2015

Many obstacles are beyond their control

By Diego Flammini,

There’s a phrase that’s commonly used and rings very true when it comes to the hard work, passion and dedication farmers show to ensure their fields are the best yet.

“If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Farmers put their livelihoods at risk every time they step into a tractor to spray, plant or harvest. There are constantly new challenges they face every year – and they can’t do anything about most of them except accept and adapt.

Fuel Prices
Nowadays, groaning seems like a common practice when pulling into a gas station to fuel up a car. Even vehicles with small tanks seem to take between $50 and $60 to fill up with regular gasoline. Many farm machines run on diesel fuel which can be even more expensive.

For example, John Deere’s 7R Series tractors have a fuel capacity up to 540 litres. At $1.17/litre of diesel at some locations in London, Ontario, it takes close to $631 to fill up.

In Des Moines, Iowa, some locations are selling diesel for $2.69/gallon. The same tractor will command about $381 per tank to fill.

Because fuel prices fluctuate daily and sometimes hourly, farmers have no choice but to pay the going rate for fuel to make sure their machines are operational.

There’s not much that needs to be said about the weather. The weather forecaster could say it’s going to be cool and dry and by the time the farmer gets to the field, it’s hot and humid. Again farmers have to adapt to the conditions to make sure their fields are going to succeed.

Commodity Prices
Almost monthly, farmers await the WASDE report put out by the USDA which dictates what some commodities are going to sell for. If all farmers have record yields, that can be problematic because the prices of crops will likely drop.

Governments create new regulations all the time, such as the Environmental Protection Agency proposing limits on the amount of corn containing the Bt gene a farmer can plant. There’s the ever-controversial country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) situation, in which the United States wants to identify where an animal was born, raised and slaughtered on their beef packaging but because the meat is often mixed with beef from Canada and Mexico it can be difficult to identify specifically.

There are many other challenges farmers must face on a day-to-day basis for the betterment of their communities and others who benefit from their hard work.

Join the conversation. What are some of the specific challenges you face on an everyday basis? How do you adapt to them?

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