A Long-Term Lens
By Ken Hamilton
For some reason, fall has always been my favorite time of the year. For people in agriculture, it can mean cooler days, but even longer days as everyone is busy trying to get the work done.
The crops are being harvested, the calves rounded up and sorted off, cows pregnancy checked and all the items on the “to-do” list that we’ve put off all summer are worked into the ever-increasing number of things on the schedule.
For most folks in Wyoming, fall is the “make or break” part of the year. We find out how well crops yielded, how much calves weigh, what the death loss was over the summer, etc., etc.
This year, the drought affected many of our ranchers and forced them to make difficult decisions: buy hay or sell cows; sell hay, sell cows and go south for the winter; sell hay now or wait until it comes up even more. All these decisions have tremendous economic consequences, not just for this year, but for years to come.
Farmers and ranchers have always had to look at things through a long-term lens. Perhaps that’s why many of our policies deal with issues that affect us long-term.
Having experienced the result of double-digit inflation in the early 1980s, I also know that should the U.S. return to an inflationary period similar to that period of time, the stress in the agricultural sector will be greatly magnified. When money is borrowed at an interest rate much higher than the rate of return for the product, all that happens is agriculture sinks.
It’s much too early to panic, but the fundamental issue of too much debt, both at a national level and in the private sector drives interest rates. When these factors start to increase, people should begin to be concerned.
Fall is also the time county Farm Bureaus spend reviewing events over the past year to see if policies need to be changed or deleted from the Farm Bureau policy book and what new policies need to be adopted to address upcoming issues.
Like most previous years, the issues concerning farmers and ranchers aren’t just limited to agricultural issues. Many of our members continue to have concerns about government policies outside of agriculture when they consider what can affect the long-term health of our country.
These issues and more will be debated during the annual meeting held in Cody. Decisions made at the meeting will help drive policies for the organization for the upcoming year and future years.
A long-term view is important both for agriculture and our nation.
Ken Hamilton is the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation executive vice president. For more information, visit wyfb.org.