As we try to figure out how to turn a profit off of a few acres of organic vegetables, a flock of chickens, a herd of goats and a few pigs (in other words, off a traditional diversified farm), when I read about the giant commodity grain farms of the Midwest I realize how completely different we are from them, in so many ways.
According to a recent article in Progressive Farmer about small grain farms, most farms were under 600 acres in the early 1980s. Today most cropland is on farms with at least 1,100 acres and “many farms are five or 10 times that size. The midpoint for Midwest grain farms more than doubled since the 1980s.”
GMOs have played a big role in the farm expansion/consolidation.
“Technology accounts for some of the surge in grain-farm size, especially with the adoption of herbicide-resistant seeds since 1995, USDA explains. It notes that labor requirements on a 1,500-acre Midwest farm using conventional seed runs about 4,421 man-hours per year, while someone with herbicide-tolerant seed introduced since 1995 needs only 3,160 hours to produce the same crop. With growing weed resistance to Roundup technologies, however, that pattern may slow in the future.”
So how are these giant chemical-based GMO grain farms doing financially?
According to the article the profits per acre on corn average about $347 and on soybeans about $287.
With farms averaging over 1100 acres and with many being 5-10,000 acres, that means the average size farm is turning a profit of over $300,000 and the big boys are raking in millions per year.
I can only shake my head in amazement.