Monday, October 29, 2007

Is a Farmer a Farmer a Farmer?

Gertrude Stein is famous for saying: "a rose is a rose is a rose". It's sometimes taken to mean that differences among things are trivial. But when it comes to farm programs, who a farmer is does make a difference. Personally, having grown up on a dairy/poultry farm, I have my reservations about whether field crop farmers (corn, cotton, etc.) really qualify as farmers. But, seriously, personal situations, crops, etc. all make a difference. Crops are obvious--cotton versus cows, carrots versus corn get you into different commitments of time, capital, labor, different markets. But even within the same crop a farmer of 75 who owns his land is in a very different position than a 25-year old renting hers. Their appetite for risk and vulnerabilities differ.

All of which is to say, when someone talks of the opinions of farmers, as here, [updated--I think it's an honest discussion, but often they aren't] take a grain of salt.

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