Get information on US Farms and Farmers, US Farmers list, life of farmers and much more from US Farm Data blog posts.

Harsh winter weather can be dangerous no matter where you live. However, blizzards and severe conditions hit farmers and ranchers especially hard.

When you are miles from the nearest store or even a neighbor you need to make sure that you have everything on hand so that you, your family and your animals can survive extreme conditions. Dangerously cold temperature, strong winds and reduced visibility are just some of the conditions you may encounter. Further, heavy snow can lead to the collapse of roofs and power outages.

When it comes to surviving a blizzard, it is important not to be caught off guard. While weather predictions aren’t always spot on, it is unlikely that heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions will come out of the, well, clear blue sky.

Making sure you are well prepared for a blizzard means that you have what you need on hand so that you and your livestock can ride out the storm. It is important that you winterize your farmhouse and all outbuildings while the weather is still mild. You also should stock your home with extra blankets to keep you warm in the event that power goes out. Bottle water and food that does not need to be heated up before you eat it is essential. Finally, make sure you have a first-aid kit and that you are familiar with the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite.
Livestock farmers and ranchers need to be diligent (and most are) when preparing livestock before a blizzard hits. Unfortunately, many times a blizzard may occur that is much stronger than expected and the results can be catastrophic. The following steps should be taken in anticipation of a hard winter:

1. Make sure all livestock are in the best possible health. This will go a long way toward helping them survive weather emergencies.

2. Evaluate emergency hay reserves. Since cold weather increases animals’ energy needs, it is important that you are able to adjust their diet as needed during a long stretch of extremely low temperatures.

3. Service all feeding equipment to avoid breakdowns. This includes assessing fuel storage and supplies and testing generators and connections. It also includes making sure water heaters are in working order.

4. Maintain structural windbreaks.

5. Have adequate bedding. Not only does clean, dry bedding reduce stress on animals, when animals are wet their nutrition maintenance requirements increase.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember during blizzards (or any severe weather situation) is that you cannot take care of your family, animals or property if you don’t take care of yourself first.

If you are marketing to farmers and have a strong agricultural background, it makes sense that you will be able to connect with farmers on a personal and professional level. However, if you did not grow up on a farm, don’t despair. Marketing to farmers isn’t as difficult as you might think—even for a lifelong city dweller!

If you really want to understand where farmers are coming from, spend some time with them on the farm. In fact, nothing will earn a farmer’s respect more than someone who is genuinely interested in learning about his or her way of life and business.

If you own an ag-based business you also would do well to become involved in the many organizations and networks that farmers rely on. These include things like county and university extension offices and commodity checkoff programs. Depending on the nature of your business, it is also important to learn about organizations that are specific to the particular types of farmers you are marketing to, as well. If you are marketing to fruit or vegetable producers, for example, you will want to learn all you can about labor and food safety issues. Marketing to corn farmers? Get well acquainted with the National Corn Growers Association.

Further, if you want to establish yourself as someone who is really interested in getting to know the farming industry, there are certain pitfalls to avoid. Farmers have little time or patience for people who think they know more than they do about the agriculture business. To build your credibility, avoid using farm tours as an opportunity to sell. If you schedule a visit to a farm to learn about that operation, the worst thing you can do is to push your product or service during that visit.

It also is imperative that you ask questions if you don’t understand something. Farmers are more than happy to explain things and will see your curiosity and eagerness to learn about their operation as a strength rather than a weakness. No one knows better than farmers that it is impossible to understand the agricultural industry if you have little or no experience on the farm.

If you think that you don’t have the time required to really get involved in the lives of the farmers you are selling to, remember this: If you don’t take the time now, you can count on making very few sales in the future. On the other hand, when you get to know your farmers and their way of life at the beginning of your relationship, you will in most cases have loyal customers for years to come.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Farm

Any farmer will tell you that kids raised on a farm end up being dependable, hardworking adults. After all, while the farm life isn’t all work and no play, children who grow up on a farm know the importance of getting a job done and getting it done right.

More than a million individuals age 20 or younger live on a farm in the United States. With school out, farm children are likely spending longer hours working on these farms. While injuries are not common, they do happen, and some of them can be extremely serious. In fact, more than 100 children and young adults are killed each year on the farm and thousands more are injured. Statistics show that children from 10 to 13 years old are involved in the most accidents.

While most farm kids believe that they are tough enough to handle any task, it is important to make sure that safety always comes first. Therefore, more than just a child’s age must be taken into account when chores are assigned. The size of child and his or her maturity must also be taken into consideration. It is also important that no matter how capable or well-trained even the most mature young adults are, they need to be checked on regularly to make sure they are doing their chores correctly.

The most common accidents occur near barn hay-drop openings, grain bins, manure pits, ponds and silos so make sure those working in those areas are aware of the potential dangers. Children also need to make sure that they are extra careful around animals—no matter how tame and friendly an animal may seem!

What follows are some appropriate chores for children working on the farm, keeping in mind that every child and situation is unique:

  • Children age 5 to 9: Collect eggs, feed small animals, water plants, work with hand tools while supervised
  • Children age 10 to 13: Assist with and handle animals, dig, push-mow while supervised, rake, use hand tools, use power tools while supervised
  • Children age 13 to 16: Feed animals, operate and maintain equipment while supervised, operate tractor and implements after the age of 14 and completion of a training course
  • Young adults age 16 to 18: Operate auger, elevator, self-propelled machinery and tractor following appropriate training courses

Many of the children working on farms today will take over those same farms as adults. It’s important that they learn to do their jobs well, and safely, to prevent any accidents now or in the future!

Hiring Seasonal Farm Workers

Running a farm often involves hiring seasonal labor. While these type of employees can be a lifesaver on the farm, the wrong hire can cause tremendous headaches.

If you are looking to hire some extra help, you will likely place an ad in the local newspaper or online or may place signs around town. Word-of-mouth also is a popular method of finding seasonal labor. No matter how you get the word out, you can be sure that you will get a variety of applicants—from college students to retirees and from the very experienced to the very inexperienced.

Even the most seasoned human resources professionals don’t get it right all of the time, so it is no wonder that you may have a tough time knowing who to hire. To help you in your hiring quest, here are some things to consider before you make any decisions:

  1. Are they experienced? It is important to find out not only if a prospective worker has farming experience, but also what type of experience. Gardening in the backyard, for example, will do little to prepare an individual for the rigors of strenuous farm work. Ask about specific experience—for both your sakes. Inexperienced workers are more likely to quit without notice or get injured on the job.
  2. What is expected? When hiring any worker, it is essential that this person knows what will be expected of him or her. A complete list of job duties and other general expectations will help anyone applying know whether he or she will be able to handle the job. Just talking in generalities is not enough, you need to be clear about what exactly will be expected day in and day out.
  3. How are their references? It’s not enough to ask for references, you need to follow up on those references. While many former employers will—for legal reasons—only give dates of employment, that can still be helpful in determining if a person has a solid work record. If a past employer is willing to give you more information, ask questions such as, “Would you hire this person again?” If a person has no references, this is a huge red flag.
  4. What do you have to offer? While it’s true that you are interviewing this person, it is important that you make it clear that you have something to offer, as well. When farmers list things like a living wage, a friendly atmosphere, etc., the position will be much more attractive to applicants. And it is important to remember, in almost all cases, if a worker feels valued and appreciated, he or she will do the best job possible.

Hiring seasonal workers can take a lot of time and effort for what is a relatively short-term job. However, a hardworking, experienced farm worker can do wonders for your operation so you must be diligent in who you choose.

It is no secret that cash rents on farmland can be tough on tenants trying to turn a profit. If you are wondering how best to protect your profitability from cash rents, you are not alone.

Alison Rice is the markets and news editor for She recently published an article in TopProducer Magazine which helps to answer some of the most common questions regarding flexible farm leases.

In her article, 8 Common Questions on Flexible Farm Leases, Rice writes that with the prospect of low grain and soy pricing in the coming months, some producers are looking for options to protect their profitability. This may include the possibility of negotiating a flexible farm lease with their landlord.

Perhaps the most important question answered in the article is what is a reasonable base rent? After all, there is no point in trying to renegotiate if you are getting a good deal already. Rice says the definition of a reasonable base rent varies “from farm to farm, but generally, it should be lower than what the fixed-cash rent would be.”

According to extension economists at Iowa State, if your base rent is not lower than what the fixed-cash rent would be then the landowner does not share in any of the downside risk.

Some of the other questions Rice answers include:

  1. How many types of flexible farm leases are there?
  2. What is a reasonable revenue share?
  3. Could I end up paying more rent with a flexible lease vs. a fixed cash rent lease?

In the end, whether or not you should try to negotiate a flexible farm lease will depend on the answers to the questions in this article and your unique financial situation. While you may not get all the answers you are looking for in this article, it is certainly a good starting point.

What do meth and cattle have to do with one another? More than you might think.

Ranchers across the country have reported a rise in some old-fashioned cattle rustling. The trend is believed to be driven by ranch hands who are stealing cattle and selling the animals in order to support their drug habit, primarily methamphetamines. Calves are a particularly popular target since they are smaller and easier for thieves to sell because the animals are unlikely to have tags or brands.

Police in states like Oklahoma and Texas believe the crime spree is being fueled by the spread of drugs into rural areas. And one head of cattle can buy a lot of drugs. One head of cattle can bring up to $3,000. Further, lenient regulatory systems at cattle markets allow thieves to sell stolen cattle without being noticed.

If they are noticed, however, there is a heavy price to pay. The theft of a single head of cattle in Oklahoma and Texas can bring up to 10 years in prison. This may soon change, however, as lawmakers in states such as Iowa, are pushing for harsher penalties and fines for livestock theft.

In most cases, only a few animals are taken at a time, and these animals are loaded into a truck in the dark of night. But there are exceptions. One Texas farm recently saw 1,100 head of cattle stolen in a single incident.

But ranchers, as you might expect, are fighting back. The Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) now has what they call “cowboy cops” to track and identify cattle thieves. Their findings show that these cattle rustlers care little about the price of beef and more about the cost of alcohol and drugs. And many rustlers are teenagers.

While officials are encouraging ranchers to brand their cattle, many ranchers do not want to do so. That’s because it is difficult to brand large animals and costly to register them. Ear tags are another alternative but are easily removed.

In 2014, the TSCRA reported that in the State of Texas almost 6,000 cattle – valued at $6 million – were stolen. Unlike most stolen merchandise which fetches less than its true value, stolen cattle usually fetch full market value. And with beef prices at an all-time high, that’s a lot of drug money.