The biggest problem is farm profitability. The wisdom is reaching for the low input, value added aspects of farming. Since the mid-1940s the battle of horse versus tractor has been fought around many an American dinner table. Friends and foes still square off regularly in certain circles.
The madness created by cheap money in the 1970s caused the USDA and many land grant universities to adopt the "get big or get out" attitude, which led directly to the demise of the family farm. This behavior resulted in a large shake-up in supply and demand causing milk, meat, and grain prices to plummet and become more cyclical than ever. Some farmers sold horses and bought tractors; others traded in small tractors for bigger ones. Soon more cows were needed to service the debt created by purchasing the tractors and larger equipment needed to keep up with an ever-expanding and demanding cow herd. Prices continue to fall while divorce and despondency among farmers becomes commonplace. Whoa!
How could we have taken the noble and blessed occupation of farming, a vocation that touches every family member and reaches far beyond neighboring fences, and turned it into a despised commercial venture? We did it by apathy. All of us want quality goods at cheap prices. Every one of us searches out low prices and selection, and in doing so often drives past the freshest, highest quality goods available anywhere. Shame on us.
Here in these rolling Ohio hills is a living, breathing farming community. The members are dependent on each other. They work together to overcome the same obstacles that burden us all. Their support of one another stimulates the local economy—money earned in the area stays in the area.
As I viewed the progression of teamsters and equipment, watched the demonstrations, and listened to the seminars I observed a hungry crowd. They had come to feast on new ideas, devour new concepts, and store wisdom offered by craftsmen and teamsters. Conversation, advice, and sweat flowed freely. Laughter echoed in these Ohio hills as farmers, along with their city cousins, reflected on how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.