This question has been bothering me since attending a workshop a few weeks ago. There were presentations by several producers with the usual stuff, how we do this and why we do it this way. But there were two who really caught my attention. One was a young couple with a 40 acre multi-grazing operation. The other was another young couple who has bought into the status-quo concept of bigger is a necessary ingredient for success.
The commonality of the two operations was the fact that in both cases one member of each couple had to, and this was emphasized, maintain an off-the-farm job to make it possible to continue to operate their livestock enterprise. Listening to the couple with the 40-acre outfit you understood that they had accepted the fact that off–farm income was necessary for the foreseeable future. The disheartening thought I took from the other couple was the fact that they have realized they must live with an almost unrealistic debt load even with the off-the-farm income.
Now my question is this: has our livestock production in the U.S. come to a place where it cannot survive without a subsidy? Has this always been so? If not what has happened?
When we bought our first little herd of cows it was with the belief that this would add to our living, not be another expense. Ya’ll don’t want or need to read another story of how it was in the days gone by. But ya’ll must understand this was not a hobby or ego trip. This was a serious attempt to add to our living. I milked a house cow every morning and evening because we had two children to feed. We dreamed of the day that we could quit our day job but if it never happened our little herd of cows would still be a plus.
We believe that it is possible for a cattle enterprise to function without a subsidy but for most folks there must be some drastic changes made in thought and deed. That’s what I think. What do ya’ll think?
I have some thoughts about this, but I really want to hear what you all think. Let’s discuss in the comments below.