"Why are all the barns wrecked?"
We were heading home from Whitewater earlier this week when my daughter asked a question out of the blue. "Dad, why are all the barns wrecked?" That was a tough question to answer and I really didn't have a firm answer for her. In a world where we eat more than ever and use our fields to feed our vehicles (ethanol) I had a hard time saying "Families just don't farm anymore."
I see those same old and empty red barns as I head to work each day. There are a few still in operation but for the most part they aren't even mothballed. They are the type of barns that make furniture makers drool. They want the wood, not the food. I also drive behind the mega-milking factory that's now in operation on Highway 14. Milk mass production is one thing. That still doesn't answer the initial question. "Why are the barns wrecked?"
I see a ton of hobby farms dot the landscape of Rock County. Many of these are meant for leisure, not for true production. The fields are always plowed and planted but I'm speculating that the land is leased. So, where do we get our food? As I watch television I know that beef is ready to finally go sky-high due to the drought in Texas. Doesn't Wisconsin raise beef? I think so, but maybe not enough to feed our state. Ugh, "Why are all the barns wrecked?"
Dairy. I touched on it with the mega-milking factory on Highway 14 but surely there has to be some family farms still in the family farming business, right? I know of a few and they've been asking for expansion. The only problem is that the city slickers have moved next door and are tired of smelling the 'smell'. They still want cheese with their wine but just not from their backyard. I'm really struggling with this…."Why are all the barns wrecked?"
Economically would it make sense to buy land and start farming? I really don't know! Is there a viable business plan out there that would allow a small family to make a decent living by farming? It's a question I'd love to have answered. It would really help me answer the first question, "Why are all the barns wrecked?"
Farm fields. I'm guilty. I live in a part of town that was once farm field. Now, it's packed with a ton of homes. There are dozens of commercial spaces open and ready to be utilized, yet our city is buying up farm fields to add more buildings. Hmmm....is this a reason why the barns are wrecked?
Kids are so observant. We can watch the markets and listen to the financial and industry experts but it's a simple question like "Why are all the barns wrecked?" that turns into a complicated answer.
Can you help me out? Why do you think the barns are all wrecked?
Steve Knox was born, raised and landed back in Janesville. He encourages you to participate as he writes on Janesville and beyond as this Generation X guy supports his Janesville mission, global vision. Steve is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.