Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
August 12, 1999

Changing Agriculture

Production Agriculture has seen many changes over the years. However, 1999 appears to be the year many producers of agricultural commodities are feeling a drastic change in their scheme of production.

It is not hard to recall the problems agriculture producers experienced throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s. Those were very difficult times for many individuals involved with all phases of agriculture production, processing, and financing. Throughout those years the combination of high interest, low production, and low prices placed a real strain on just plain survival. Many experienced insurmountable financial difficulties and were forced to seek a life totally unrelated to agriculture production. Generally most producers can survive if only one of these three factors exceeds the limits of management. However, when any two or all three of these exceed the tolerance limit for each individual operation then we can expect a disaster for most independent producers.

Presently in most operations we find at least one member of the household employed off the farm. This trend has been become more of a way of life with each passing year as the number of spouses employed off the farm increases in the production segment of the food chain.

When we reach the point where having one individual with off-farm employment fails to provide the monthly economical needs, and then additional assistance is required to meet the daily demands of each individual farm family. Frequently the second family member is required to seek off-farm employment. When this occurs the production portion of the individual operation becomes an after-hour, weekend, vacation, and holiday production unit. This type of agriculture production is becoming more prevalent with the passing of each year. It is not uncommon for a member of the family to return to the production unit to assist with planting and harvesting of both grain and forage crops.

Production agriculture appears to be headed from the above-described production units to even larger producing systems, another reduction in the number of individual producers, increased vertical cohesion, and the formation of various alliances. One important point of this continuous transition of agriculture production is the increase in age of the individual producer. A large portion of today’s producers are older compared to the producers of the late 70’s and early 80’s era. Not only are we loosing producers with each passing year but many on these are moving into the retirement era and simply renting their production units to larger operations. This may not be the desired direction for many of today’s producers, but it is very hard to operate against large economic obstacles that tend to force smaller producers out of business.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - August 12, 1999
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT081299.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004