Friday, August 16, 2013

Why Are They Selling Their Farm?

I was going to post a "feel good" type of "support your local farmers market" post for tomorrow, Sustainable Saturday.  But this can't wait.

This post says it all.  It's from a farmer who is getting ready to quit.  It explains why so many farmers at farmers markets can't compete - and  the sad part is, few of us in Binghamton, New York - which is a depressed area (let's face it - we promote it, we love it, but it IS depressed) can afford to pay these farmers what their labor is worth. 

Here's why.  

It's not pretty.

And that's why you need to read it.  I offer it without comment.  But some of the comments on the blog are worth reading.

Tomorrow, on Sustainable Saturday, I will feature a local artisan whose creations deserve some publicity.


  1. Unfortunately, this is the system that obtains. It is geared to the corporate farmer and not the individual entity.
    Regarding the $ 17 chicken- I know your pain. But, would pay $ 4 for a pound of pure organic feed when you can buy non-GMO for $ 1? What makes your decision different?
    Now, I don't pay $ 17 for 3.5 of chicken- unless I am stuck and there's nothing else available. But, I routinely spend $ 14.50- because I keep kosher. So, I know the choices I made in my life that makes my meat and chicken costs higher- much higher than others would consider reasonable.
    There are ways to turn the situation around. There may be ways to even make reasonable profits. But, yet another problem for the individual farmer is that they tend to not seek out professional assistance- not necessarily because of the costs, but often they resent a loss of independence...
    Either way, it's the same dilemna for every small business person with the world's best product or service...

    1. So true, Roy, and I say this as someone who has never owned her own business, but has a cousin, and a grandfather, who does (and did, for most of his life). I just saw a video today on another blog - a talk by an English businesswoman, whose business almost failed - until she reached out for help. There were some interesting comments on the blog, and I hope these people can get enough inspiration to come up with something that will succeed with them.

  2. This was my reply. Forgive me for cutting and pasting but it sums up how sad I feel.

    I am an English girl. I spent some of the best days of my life living with family friends on a farm in North Dakota in the seventies. Life was hard but not impossible and it was wonderful. It hurts and terrifies me that farming, whether in the States or the Durham Dales where I now live is becoming unfeasible, that factory farmers are producing cheap but rubbish quality food. When we were young we ate meat occasionally but it was good. Now people expect to be able to eat what was once expensive food on a daily basis and pay nothing for it. We have lost quality to quantity. I am so sorry that you are forced to sell up but so grateful that there are still people like you who are willing to at least try. Soon there will be nobody left to give it a go.

    1. I'm glad you were able to reply. I also replied and I see a lot of good discussion in the comments. It is sad that this is happening all over the world, not just in the United States.

  3. I love my local farmers' market even though takes more time to navigate an entire farmers' market than it does to go to the supermarket. In many cases, it can actually cost less and the quality of the produce is incredible. Everything was hand-washed and hand-trimmed, bundled generously and free of both wax and those irritating stickers the supermarket slaps on everything. The few items that were more expensive were things like special hybrid strawberries or heirloom tomatoes from a very small harvest—basically, specialty produce that was so in demand, it was generally the first thing to sell out that day at each stall that sold it. However, with their more traditional offerings, the farmers know that the customer has a choice, especially when it comes to saving money, so they offer high-quality produce at the best possible price, both to get you to choose them and to keep us returning. It is definitely worth the extra time and effort it may require.

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  4. It's a sad story but a familiar one. A friend of ours had a deer farm, the last one in Virginia, and she had to sell the deer. Their feed just got too expensive. She is still raising heirloom chickens and organic vegetables though, and living very frugally.

    We can't blame the consumer for not paying $17 for a chicken. We have to eat 7 days a week, 3 meals a day, so we can't afford to pay that much. I've read that part of the problem is that corn is being raised for auto fuel and that drives up the price of feed.

  5. It is very sad indeed and many will not know just how sad and how far the ripple effects will be with things like this until it is too late...


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