Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Expense of Harvest

From the outside looking in it appears that farmers just work the ground, plant, spray, harvest, collect a check and do it all again the next season.  

Let's take a minute and figure up what it costs the farmer to harvest just in a relatable concept to non-farmers . 

Diesel is approximately $2.56. 
It takes about 1 gallon of fuel for every acre harvested. 
That's around $1,280 if the farmer harvests 500 acres. 
If it's muddy conditions you can add another 1/3 of the cost. 
This doesn't include the DEF that the new machines take either ! 

Now let's say the farmer has three semi's he is using to haul grain. 
That's a total of 54 tires; which is equivalent to approximately $19,000 in just tires ! 
This doesn't include the combine (4), tractor (4-6), grain cart (2), or the pick ups (4-8) used to haul fuel and necessitates! 
Don't forget these trucks take fuel too! 

The farmer has to put his trust in a lot of variables that can't be controlled. Their inputs are high without a promise in return. Bad weather, disease/toxins in crops and poor commodity prices are just a few that can take a toll on a farmers pocketbook. 

Now let's look at the time investment: 
Most people go to work at 8 am and come home at 5 pm. In farming, everyday is different but long days seem to be a consistent theme. During harvest we are in the field servicing equipment by 7:30 am, dumping trucks from the night before by 8:30 am, gathering supplies and headed to the field by 10:00 am to hopefully start cutting. We get our lunch and dinner on the go by family members (field meals are the best!). These family members are also the people who get a list of instructions on how and when to move what where... See its confusing just reading it, let alone doing it. They are constantly shuffling everyone around to make sure things go smoothly. Typically we are shuting down machines around 10-12 pm (variant on the humidity and weather conditions). Then we do it all again! 

Although this all sounds expensive and time consuming there is a priceless part of the harvest.  It seems that every year we have family, friends, and landlords that will drive by and see an empty "buddy seat" and crawl into the cab with us. These are the moments and memories that can make a stressful job fun and rewarding! Plus it gives them a glimpse into our world. 

So next time you hear a farmer complaining about how dry or wet it is, how low the grain prices are, how expensive fuel, equipment and land prices are take a minute and say Thank You. After all they are the ones putting food on your table.  

At the end of everyday it's just a farmer, his machine, and God.... 


No comments:

Post a Comment