Farming is the ultimate brick and mortar business. And look at what our economy does to brick and mortar businesses. Well, that’s happening to the farmer, except they can’t quietly shut down one franchise at a time like Blockbuster, they actually provide an essential product. So starting last century, we’ve been subsidizing a dying industry. Agriculture can not eat its losses. It is one hundred percent weather dependent. When the season goes sour, their already razor thin profit margins cut into the red the way a creek disobeys its banks, on average, at least twice a year. There is no level of innovation, no new work model, no new equipment or genetic manipulation that can change this. It is the very nature of mining the surface of the earth for minerals and nutrients that can only be expressed through very particular organisms who can only survive in very very particular environmental conditions. You want to talk about a moving target, well farming would be much easier if it were as simple as a single moving target, but it’s hundreds overlapping, running, breaking down fences and catching new-barn pneumonia and newborn flowers wilting in overdue frost.
I’ve said it before, and people have laughed at me, and argued with me, but if you could run a farming operation and end up back exactly where you started, no profit, but no debt, no eaten expense, just right back at zero, you’d be one of the most productive and outstanding farms that exists in this country today. That’s not to admonish the bar for being set so low, it’s a recognition that all agricultural production is an exchange of real estate. Shipping out corn, beef, eggs, milk, is an exportation of land, of local space, minerals and resources, a bad season, a reduced return, can’t be accommodated, not even once. Essentially, a farmer is left only with the option to repurchase their most basic, essential asset, the vitality of their land, year after year, when their predetermined, artificially reduced pricing doesn’t yield enough to return what was taken from the fields, or to clean out what contaminated the barns, or to replace the good grass in neglected pastures.
Farmers can’t eat their losses. The American people do.