We asked Lyons farmers their opinions on land prices, the current drought and what they see as the future of agriculture. Here’s what they had to say.
Ronald Brovont, farmer
Brovont has been growing corn and beans since 1985.
He hopes for more moisture for this season’s crops.
“I’m hoping we can get some spring rain,” he said.
With the price of grain falling, Brovont thinks the price of land will go down as well.
“Eventually in time, yes,” he said. He also thinks rent prices will go down. “It’s gotta go down because I don’t see how these guys can pencil it out (otherwise).”
Brovont sees the future of agriculture involving a lot of technology. He also believes those who are new to farming will have a difficult time getting in.
“For a young kid getting into farming now a days, he’s gonna have to have some backing,” he explained.
Winnie Hollman, organic farmer
Hollman grows alfalfa, corn, beans and wheat. She also raises sheep and laying chickens.
“We’re gonna need a bunch of rain,” she said. She practices using cover crops, like rye, to help control for weeds. This also helps retain some moisture in the soil.
In the future, Hollman says she sees the demand for organic meat and produce increasing, especially from younger generations. She believes more people are paying attention to organically-raised livestock and produce and saying no to genetically modified foods.
Winnie believes that raising livestock on a small scale is a viable option for those interested in beginning farming.
“If you like to raise livestock, I see a future (for you),” she said.
Allen ‘Steiny’ Steinmeyer, seed dealer
Steinmeyer said he’s not much for predicting the future.
“Every time I say something, it goes the opposite way,” he said with a laugh. “As far as moisture, who knows. I’m not gonna get worried until June or July. We could pick up a lot of rain in May.
Steinmeyer believes land prices will reflect the changing grain prices.
“If grain prices stay low, land prices are gonna go down,” he said. And he hasn’t seen farmers change their minds on what crop they’ll plant this season.
“Planting has pretty much stayed the same with 50/50 corn and bean rotations,” he said.“I haven’t had anybody change their decision.”
Reflecting on the past, Steiny said he’s seen how the 1980s farm crisis affected farms and families. “Back in the ‘70s, you could make a pretty good living. Then the ‘80s hit and took everything away,” he said.
Scott Doht, farmer
Around eight to 10 years ago, Doht was growing alfalfa. About five years ago, he was growing oats and wheat. He’s been growing corn and beans ever since.
The thing he’s most amazed by is the way technology has changed the practice of farming.
“Right now it’s tech-driven,” he said. “We’re gonna see yields go up and unfortunately less farmers. Farmers have gotten more acres and bigger equipment. You can get over so many acres with a piece of equipment it’s unbelievable.”
He predicts using personal devices like iPads even more in the future to aid with farming.
“I carry my iPad with me wherever I go, check markets, check machinery,” he said.
As for the drought, Scott said he’s not worried.
“We had a good fall rain. If we’re gonna have a drought, winter’s the best time to have it,” he said.
Duane Slaughter, retired farmer
Slaughter farmed between 1948 and 1969. He says many things have changed since then.
“It is better now than when I farmed. Everything has changed for the better,” he said.
He’s seen agriculture change into a more technology-driven business.
“In the ‘50s it was horrible,” Slaughter said. He told stories of plowing the fields with horses and not having tractor cabs to keep farmers out of extreme temperatures.
For those who want to start farming, Slaughter says it would be hard to get started.
“It takes a tremendous amount of money to farm,” he said.“Fertilizer’s high. Seed’s high. Equipment is high.”
He expressed concern about the future of farming.
“We don’t have enough young people to take over and our farms are getting bigger and bigger,” he said.