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US farms are getting even bigger


As the 2018 harvest approached, North Dakota farmer Mike Appert had a problem – too many soybeans and nowhere to put them. Selling was a bad option. Prices were near decade lows as U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China weighed heavily on the market. Temporary storage would only buy him a little bit of time, particularly in an area where cold weather can damage crops stored in plastic bags.

So Appert, who farms 48,000 acres (19,425 hectares), cut a check for $800,000 to build eight new permanent steel bins. That allowed him to hold onto his bumper crop and wait for prices to recover.

He sold half of the 456,000 bushels stored on his farm throughout the following summer, earning about $1 more per bushel and avoiding storage at nearby CHS elevators or an Archer Daniels Midland Co. <ADM.N> processor in the area.

But most farmers do not have $800,000 to spend on steel bins, and many are going under. The number of U.S. farms fell by 12,800 to 2.029 million in 2018, the smallest ever, as the trade war pushes more farmers into retirement or bankruptcy.

Roger Hadley, who farms 1,000 acres in Indiana, was unable to plant any corn and soybeans this year after heavy rains added to farmers’ woes.

He spent most of the summer trying to plant a combination of grasses, a so-called cover crop, so he could apply for government aid and try again next year.

“The guys that got rich are getting richer,” Hadley said. “It has frustrated a lot of guys.”

In farming, size does matter. The farms left standing after the trade were will likely be some of the biggest in the business. Appert’s operations are more than 100 times bigger than the average American farm and the advantages provided by that magnitude are becoming even more critical as the trade war stretches into a second year.

The declining number of U.S. farmers could hurt the world’s top grain merchants such as ADM and Bunge <BG.N>, who will have fewer suppliers. Additionally, farmers will have less need to rent space in the merchants’ grain silos as big farmers like Appert have plentiful storage on their own farms.

By the end of 2018, the average U.S. farm size rose to 443 acres, a 12-year high and up from 441 acres in 2017, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

And the biggest farmers are growing their operations even more as retiring farmers choose to lease their land rather than selling it.

When land becomes available for lease, only the biggest farmers can readily shoulder the costs needed to expand.

The size of the loans smaller farmers would need to buy equipment, for example, are too big for applicants with little collateral, said Dave Kusler, president of the Bank of Hazelton in Hazelton, North Dakota. “It is almost impossible with what the costs are,” Kuslersaid. “In this area you can’t make a living on 1,000 acres.”

Critics say the Trump administration’s policy of compensating growers for lost sales due to the trade war pays the bigger farm operations more, since payments are calculated by acres farmed.

The Environmental Working Group, a conservation organization, said in a recent study the top 1% of aid recipients received an average of more than $180,000 while the bottom 80% were paid less than $5,000 in aid.

Big farms can reap the full benefits of new high-tech equipment that boosts farm yields.

Doug Zink, who farms 35,000 acres near Carrington, North Dakota, said he likes to trade in his fleet of four combines and planters nearly every year to ensure that his equipment is under warranty, which saves thousands of dollars in maintenance costs and helps avoid breakdowns during key seeding and planting periods.

They also receive deep discounts – as much as $40,000 for some combine harvesters that can cost as much as $400,000 – allowing them to upgrade more often.


30 Comments on "US farms are getting even bigger"

  1. Dooma on Wed, 29th Jan 2020 7:06 pm 

    The same thing is happening around my area, which is the dairy belt for a large part of Australia.

    Large multi-nationals (many Chinese) are buying up small farms and merging them to greate mega-farms. Traditional family dairies cannot compete with the low farmgate prices at which these corporations sell their milk. I don’t like China owning so much of our food production & infrastructure. Our government has sold us out.

  2. Shortend on Wed, 29th Jan 2020 10:24 pm 

    Get bigger or get out….

  3. Duncan Idaho on Wed, 29th Jan 2020 10:30 pm 

    Portion of US border wall in California falls over in high winds and lands on Mexican side

  4. Outcast_Searcher on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 11:43 am 

    Or, instead of claiming doom, the article could be BALANCED, and point out the option to use the Soybean futures and options markets, instead of spending huge money on storage.

    But it’s all doom all the time, except when it isn’t really (99.999% of the time).

  5. Outcast_Searcher on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 11:46 am 

    Dooma: The world changes. Just think of the proportion of people now who need to change jobs / careers, or at least what they do over the course of a career, due to technology changes, competitive changes, etc.

    If farmers wanting to get out can sell to the Chinese, that gives them more bidders, helping them get a better price for that farm.

    So your country should remove that option in the name of protectionism because YOU should be different than everyone else, re competition?

    When everyone asks for such favors, how well does the system work?

  6. Duncan Idaho on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 12:10 pm 

    “Investment in equipment and non-residential structures – as a percent of GDP – declined further.”

  7. Makati1 on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 5:17 pm 

    Its called greedy capitalism and is part of the oligarch’s plan to make a ONE WORLD government. Everything corporate/government owned/controlled. We will all be serfs except the 1%.

    I personally think it will never happen because they are about 50 years too late. Net energy is declining and so will all production. The end is in site for BAU. And, maybe, the human race.

    The coming financial crash is their doing, but, again, I do not see it evolving into a one currency system. Too many countries with their own currency system and the break up of the US dollar monopoly is also in the works.

    BTW: I have been in the city for a few days and nothing has changed here. Same old delusionalists pushing their many sock puppets. This site is still degrading along with the US.

  8. Duncan Idaho on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 5:52 pm 

    Fourth-quarter GDP rose only 2.1% and full-year 2019 posts slowest growth in three years at 2.3%

    The Fat Boy has reduced and given away to his corporate whores all he can—
    Still falling–should of got more of a bump.

  9. makati1 on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 6:09 pm 

    Figures lie and liars figure. There are no real numbers coming out of DC.

    Real numbers:
    GDP = -2% (Yes, that is a minus.)
    Inflation = 6%
    Unemployment = 20%

    The US is, and has been, in a recession/depression most of this century, if you use real numbers.

  10. REAL Green on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 7:59 pm 

    “Permaculture as Philosophy” integrity of life

    “Permaculture, I’ve learned, is not only a method but a philosophy, one that emphasizes the relationships among all the elements of the environment rather than its individual parts in isolation. The opposite is big-farm monoculture. In monoculture, corn or soybeans are removed finally and completely from the environment where they were raised, leaving behind a barren field. In order to grow the corn or soybeans next year, external inputs of seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, irrigation, and petroleum-powered machines are necessary. The goal in permaculture, however, is to have an almost perfectly closed system that reaches a natural maturity and sustains itself there with minimal human help. Once properly established, an ideal permaculture system fertilizes its own soil through a mix of deep-rooted plants that bring up nutrients and aerate the soil, nitrogen-fixing plants, plants that drop leaves as mulch, and animals that plow, fertilize, and control the plant and insect populations. This system stores water in its soil and loses very little to run-off. Because more of the plants are perennial, as opposed to monoculture’s annuals, plant populations remain in place and in balance – an ever-shifting balance, but a sustainable one – for decades. Again, regardless of how viable permaculture is as a widespread farming method, it raises interesting philosophical questions. One test of the validity of a philosophy is how universally it applies. Since I started studying permaculture, I’ve found that what I was reading shed light on different aspects of the world. That leads me to the three thoughts I mentioned earlier.

  11. REAL Green on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 8:00 pm 

    Anyone embracing permaculture needs a reality check because in most cases it does not pay. It is hard redundant work that offers great reward when reflected on after many months and years. This is a philosophy because it is about meaning at its basic level. You can’t leave your job and go do permaculture farming in many cases if you think you can switch lives and still live a normal status quo life. Not only is learning how to farm permaculture very difficult requiring years of study and effort it is trapped in contradictions of value.

    I have a multi species rotational grazing operation of goats, sheep, and cows. I have Anatolian Shepherds livestock guardian dogs. My stocking rates are low so the land is not abused. Low stocking rates also means I am not abused nor are the animals. Yet, I work all the time. I work every day I can and still it is not enough. There is no money to hire help and really this type of farming needs people. I am basically working for free. I am barely covering my costs. I am slowly building up the operation but it is not paying me anything. What it does give me is a reward that is spiritual. I am a lucky one who can do this because I have simplified my life relatively from my previous life. I have investments that cover me so I am semi-retired. The semi-means I do more work now than before but you can’t call it work like before. It is now rugged enjoyment. My body hurts at the end of the day but I feel like I done something.

    I am green prepper and permaculture is part of this. Garden, orchard, grapes, animals, and wood from the forests. I raise hay on a small scale with a mini baler and low horsepower tractor. I also spend significant time maintaining native grasses and brushy draws for wildlife. I leave areas to go to weeds for the pollinators. My pasture in the grazing system is a polyculture of weeds, grasses, and brush. Many of the weeds are invasive and a normal farmer would spray the fields to kill them. I have decided to adapt to it with a multi-species rotational grazing. Goats don’t pay well but they are essential to polycultures. Sheep are not great either. Cattle are better but you need to be big to make them work paying the bills.

    Now to the contradictions of permaculture. Low volume has high value for the land, farmer, and animal. Low volume with a low margin product does not work economically. You can only downsize and simplify so much to make this work before you go into a different class of poor where you do not have the resources to succeed. Part of the reason I am raising animals is green prepping so it is a dual purpose. If SHTF I have a food bank. The second reason is pasture management. Rotating animals with low stocking rates with the right mixes actually promotes wildlife and pasture health. There is less of a need for mowing but unfortunately some mowing is still needed. The best part of this system is reduction of chemical use.

    The spiritual rewards of what I do are immense. These animals are my life and the land my home. I heat with wood and produce animal calories from grass. I raise registered breeding stock so rarely do I take animals to the sale barn. I am very happy to find homes for my animals and enjoy meeting people. I enjoy teaching others about what I do. I am not in competition. But to be fair to those who are I don’t have to be. So, in conclusion, in my opinion, permaculture is a spiritual exercise of finding ones meaning in a time of lack of meaning. It does not pay because true meaning does not pay in times like ours. Permaculture will not feed the world either. Industrial agriculture will have to do that until we drastically reduce populations and consumption habits. If you can then do it. The planet will thank you. If you can’t then respect it when you see it. People that do it have an inner strength driving them.

  12. world supremacist muzzies bag day on Thu, 30th Jan 2020 8:05 pm 

    above is supertard obv.

    tomorrow is world supremacist muzzies bag day.

    i like permacultism bcos practitioners put a bag over their head to hide identity when shopping at big ag. grocery stores.

    so in a way it’s already about training for world supremacist muzzies bag day

  13. I AM THE MOB on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 1:22 pm 

    Eurozone economy barely growing at all

  14. I AM THE MOB on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 1:37 pm 

    Europe imploding in 3..2..1..

  15. Anonymouse on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 2:28 pm 

    Hey, DUMBASS, you can stop posting as I AM THE DAVYMOBSTER now. ZOGgie has gone on a pilgrimage to the wailing wall, or he won a free-trip to the Anne Franke museum, or something. Not like anyone one cares where the rodent is, or what it is doing. Nor is it as if anywhere here really cared about all your eU has been collpsing shite anyhow, except for ZOGgie.

    So delusional davster, why dont you follow in ZOGgies wheelchair, and you know, give it a rest already?

  16. cloggie on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 3:57 pm 

    supertards, today is very special because tomorrow is world supremacist muzzie bag day!
    feb1 is always the day

    76 days away is world grater nedertardland day

    i’m so psyched for myself and all of us.

  17. Davy on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 4:49 pm 

    This is something annoymouse, juanPee, and makato can be proud of. The loves China and think it is the greatest place on earth:

    “Coronavirus Contains “HIV Insertions”, Stoking Fears Over Artificially Created Bioweapon” zero hedge

    “Over the past few days, the mainstream press has vigorously pushed back against a theory about the origins of the coronavirus that has now infected as many as 70,000+ people in Wuhan alone (depending on whom you believe). The theory is that China obtained the coronavirus via a Canadian research program, and started molding it into a bioweapon at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan. Politifact pointed the finger at Zero Hedge, in particular, though the story was widely shared across independent-leaning media. The theory is that the virus, which was developed by infectious disease experts to function as a bio-weapon, originated in the Wuhan-based lab of Dr. Peng Zhou, China’s preeminent researcher of bat immune systems, specifically in how their immune systems adapt to the presence of viruses like coronavirus and other destructive viruses. Somehow, the virus escaped from the lab, and the Hunan fish market where the virus supposedly originated is merely a ruse. Now, a respected epidemiologist who recently caught flack for claiming in a twitter threat that the virus appeared to be much more contagious than initially believed is pointing out irregularities in the virus’s genome that suggests it might have been genetically engineered for the purposes of a weapon, and not just any weapon but the deadliest one of all. In “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag”, Indian researchers are baffled by segments of the virus’s RNA that have no relation to other coronaviruses like SARS, and instead appear to be closer to HIV. The virus even responds to treatment by HIV medications.”

  18. Davy on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:33 pm 

    Oops, sorry again y’all. I’m such a dumbass.

    “Websites spin unproven link between Canada, China about coronavirus outbreak” politifact

    “Zero Hedge, a blog with a track record of publishing false information, said in a Jan. 26 story that the coronavirus is part of a Chinese plot to develop a bioweapon. The article was republished from a website called Great Game India.”

  19. Davy on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:36 pm 

    JuanPee, tries to play his games when the truth is coming out. You loves them Chinamen so much you can’t believe this could be true!

  20. Anonymouse on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:37 pm 

    Yo, dumbass, read this, maybe Davy is right:

    A good recap of the findings was provided by Dr. Feigl-Ding, who started his explanatory thread by pointing out that the transmission rate outside China has surpassed the rate inside China.

    A graph is worth a thousand letters. #coronavirus. Source: NYTimes

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    2) Whoa- the rate of increase ***outside of China*** is steeper than inside of China or Wuhan! Figure 1A. From: @TheLancet “Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of 2019-nCoV”)

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    3) “An estimated 75815 individuals have been infected in Wuhan” —> this is substantially higher than current reports or ~10k reports by China media. (75k estimate from above Lancet article)

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    4) …”On the present trajectory, 2019-nCoV could be about to become a global epidemic in the absence of mitigation…substantial, even draconian measures that limit population mobility should be seriously and immediately considered in affected areas…”

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    But the ‘smoking gun’ in this case are pieces of the virus’s genetic code that Indian researchers, led by Prashant Pradhan at the Indian Institute of Technology, found may have been ’embedded’ from HIV, which belongs to an entirely different family of viruses.

    16. UPDATE ON GENOME : a very intriguing new paper investigating the aforementioned mystery middle segment w/ “S” spike protein: likely origin from HIV. “Uncanny similarity of unique inserts in the 2019-nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag” from

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    17. …WHOA- the authors said the finding was “Unexpectedly” related to genes from HIV virus. Notably there were 4 gene insertions (see figure in above post #16). And so, which HIV gene proteins were found in the new #coronarvirus? Gag protein and Gp120- key HIV proteins…

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    18. Notably, in S , authors say for HIVinsertions: “Gag protein of HIV is involved in host membrane binding, packaging of the virus and for the formation of virus-like particles. Gp120 plays crucial role in recognizing the host cell by binding to the primary receptor CD4”

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    19. Again, these are new express published findings and not peer reviewed yet. Let’s not draw conclusions yet. But evidence suggest that 2 different HIV genes are present in the #coronarvirus S gene region (that didn’t map to any other coronavirus, according to other studies).

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    20. Further the authors add that “This indicates that these insertions have been preferably acquired by the 2019-nCoV, providing it with additional survival and infectivity advantage. Delving deeper we found that these insertions were similar to HIV-1.”

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    21. Paper piles on: “these insertions are present at binding site of 2019-nCoV. Due to presence of gp120 motifs in 2019-nCoV spike glycoprotein at its binding domain, we propose that these motif insertions could have provided an enhanced affinity towards host cell receptors.”

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    22. The authors dunked this final conclusion: “This uncanny similarity of novel inserts in the 2019- nCoV spike protein to HIV-1 gp120 and Gag is unlikely to be fortuitous”. Wow, they sure just went straight there! What a bold paper… I don’t know what to say ‍♂️

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 31, 2020
    The punchline:

    9. BOTTOMLINE: 1) Seafood market not the source. 2) This RNA #coronavirus mutates really fast. 3) has unusual middle segment never seen before in any coronavirus. 4) Not from recent mixing. 5) That mystery middle segment encodes protein responsible for entry into host cells.

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 28, 2020
    To be sure, Dr. Feigl-Ding insists that he’s not trying to promote any ‘conspiracies’ about the virus being a bioweapon developed by the Chinese, although it is difficult to find a proper name for what appears to be an artificial, weaponized virus.

    10. TO BE CLEAR: I am absolutely not saying it’s bioengineering, nor am I supporting any conspiracy theories with no evidence. I’m simply saying scientists need to do more research + get more data. And finding the origin of the virus is an important research priority. Goodnight

    — Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding (@DrEricDing) January 28, 2020
    Another doctor chimed in with what he thought was a solid explanation for the virus’s irregularities…

    Dr. @ARanganathan72 might explain.

    — Shankara (@fondoflinux) January 31, 2020
    Sure. 2019-nCoV is a +ve strand RNA virus that enters human cell and first encodes its RNA-replicase to make -ve stranded RNA that serves a template to make +ve strand RNA that is then translated for daughter nCoV. Drugs Lopinavir and Remdesivir target its protease and replicase.

    — Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) January 31, 2020
    …Until he realized something disturbing.

    Oh my god. Indian scientists have just found HIV (AIDS) virus-like insertions in the 2019-nCov virus that are not found in any other coronavirus. They hint at the possibility that this Chinese virus was designed [“not fortuitous’]. Scary if true.

    — Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) January 31, 2020
    “Scary”… but relax, it’s just another ridiculous “conspiracy.”

  21. Davy on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:46 pm 

    “Scary”… but relax, it’s just another ridiculous “conspiracy.”

    yeap, y’all dun got that write

  22. makati1 on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:51 pm 

    IF it was designed as a Chinese bio weapon, why didn’t they release it in the US or EU? Why in the center of China? I would tend to believe that it is a US bio weapon, released in the place it could do the most harm. China is not known as an aggressor nation, but the US is definitely one. See Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and on and on. They know they could not win a real war with China so they use other methods, but still lose.

    Perhaps the Chinese are just more efficient at controlling the virus spread than the West? China shut down about 1/3 of the population so far and closed borders. What has the US done? Very little as far as I can see. They even want to evacuate Amerikans from the disease epicenter. Go for it, idiots! The virus is one import you cannot tariff. LOL

  23. makati1 on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:54 pm 

    Juan, the above comment is yours not Davy. Please stop the ID theft

  24. JuanP on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:55 pm 

    “Why in the center of China? I would tend to believe that it is a US bio weapon, released in the place it could do the most harm.”

    Wow, Mak, you are not very sharp. Have you ever considered negligence or carelessness?

  25. More Davy sock puppetry and lunacy on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 6:19 pm 

    Davysum on Fri, 31st Jan 2020 5:37 pm

    obv supertard.

  26. REAL Green on Sun, 2nd Feb 2020 12:41 pm 

    “There is no money to hire help and really this type of farming needs people.” But there’s plenty of money to take the family Learjet to Europe every summer for R&R.

    I know you’re wondering what I do with the farm when I travel to Italy every summer.

    I have taught my livestock to care for themselves cause I’m so smart.

  27. cloggie on Sun, 2nd Feb 2020 12:48 pm 

    today is a momentous day because it’s only 365 day to world supremacist muzzie bag day

    today also muzzie celebrate day after world supremacist muzzie bag day with jihad in london

    with brexit done, muzzie will be put on muzzie anti rape machine, muzzie amputation machine, muzzie hamster machine, starting with lady “barroness” warsi, gotta appreciate the comical nature of british peerage system

    glory be to world supremacist muzzies. may all muzzies in uk get fed through muzzie machines

    this has been superatard news service for consumption by supertards

  28. cloggie on Sun, 2nd Feb 2020 12:53 pm 

    breaking news:

    US Navy will conducting daring and risky mission to retrieve dead muzzie in London.

    Then muzzie dead body will be handled over to philippines navy but then handled to Dutch navy to be burried according to muzzie but this dead muzzie is not a muzzie.

    The logic escapes me but it is muzzie gospel who am i to argue

  29. JuanP on Sun, 2nd Feb 2020 12:56 pm 

    Sorry, cloggie, today is a suck day because world supremacist muzzle fag day failed. People think I am a lunatic. I am the muzzle fag queen. Give me cock or give me death! I am so chronically depressed I would give my twat to feel normal!

  30. cloggie on Sun, 2nd Feb 2020 12:59 pm 

    whitey supertard trump needs to spend more money on defense to get US Navy up to speed.
    unable to burry dead muzzie according to muzzie custom, but dead muzzie is not a muzzie is a national disgrace

    for too long our navy is in disrepair and so weak it can’t perform ceremonial burial of dead muzzie at sea according to muzzie custom but it’s not a muzzie

    head spun

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