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This continuation of excerpts from the rural life conference for young people held in Marshall, Minnesota, features speeches by Dr. Charles Reinert, professor of physics at Southwest State University; Roger Blobaum, agricultural consultant; Calvin Beale, head of the Population Studies Group of the United States Department of Agriculture; Minnesota's Sixth District Congressman Richard Nolan; and former Sixth District Congressman John Zwach.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

The Minnesota rule youth Institute, which took place at Southwest State University in Marshall last week brought together about a hundred High School juniors and seniors from rural communities all over the state for an intensive week of lectures workshops and field trips intended to expose them to creative and Innovative strategies for agriculture and Rural Community Development in the future. Today's program is the second of two featuring highlights from some of those sessions and on this program will hear from dr. Charles Reiner professor of physics at Southwest State University in Marshall agricultural Consulting Rodger blough bomb Calvin be a leader of the population studies group of the US Department of Agriculture, Minnesota 6th District Congressman Richard Nolan and the former congressman from the 6th District John's walk. The program was recorded and produced by Minnesota Public Radio station. Krsw with the aid of funds provided in part by the Northwestern Banks of Marshall and Slaton and PPG Industries. Charles Minard is a professor of physics at Southwest State University. He was born and raised on the farm and still lives on a farm near Garvin Minnesota where he raises bees and some crops his address to the delegates at the Minnesota row youth Institute was titled energy resource problems for agriculture. Do when your farm. What are you reeling in all besides sitting out there and listen to the radio station in your cab what he really do you plow right you chill and you're harvesting a plant but what are you really involved in doing? You're really involved and harvesting solar energy. That's really what you're out there for and that's what it's all about. Farming is really a grandiose way of harvesting the solar energy that's available here an energy producer or at least you ought to be Your Harvest is solar energy might look like a tomato hit might be read. It might be yellow. It might look like a carrot or a cucumber or yellow like weed but fundamentally, that's what you're doing you produce different qualities as well or energy some of it tastes good like good filet mignon, some of it taste not quite so good like zucchini squash according to my son. But now I want to spend a few minutes talking about solar energy in the way that people are talking about it today in the newspapers. There's a very interesting analogy between the problems that we have today say and heating a home and the problems that one has as a farmer trying to produce solar energy in that way. Everybody knows a little bit about solar energy. And the first people are talking about heating homes with that. They're talking about heating factories Office Buildings, maybe even making electricity with it. That's a bit far out at this point is very easy to heat your bath water with it that you can do very nicely member ever using them a barrel on top of the roof that works very nicely in the summertime. And if you're clever and you keep your costs down, you can also heat your house with it. We believe in fact, we know some rather good techniques to do that. Solar energy, of course is very nice stuff when people talk about the whole energy budget for the nation that usually leave out solar energy because it dwarfs everything else in comparison. We talked about some 90% of our energy needs coming from fossil fuels from coal oil and natural gas 4% or thereabouts comes from the Sun and its up then to the farmer to see if you can Harvest that. And of course the other nice aspect about it is that so far it is free. Well, let's suppose that you have a house and that you've gotten tired of paying your fuel Bill if you want to see if you can arrange to heat your house with solar energy. Think about now comparing this to farming of trying to raise a crop and make a living from it. Well, one of the very simplest ways that you can help heat a house with the sun is obviously to put a bunch of Windows on your South wall and let the sun shine in through the windows and it will in fact help to heat your house. That's not a bad approach. It's reasonably inexpensive. It's reasonably efficient and it it it works in anybody any Carpenter can do it reasonably. Well now if we put it another way then if one applies some labor and foot in terms of constructing the windows and charms of drawing the drapes across the windows when the sun isn't out or at night. You can Harvest some solar energy. Okay, you're capturing it for your own use the cost for doing this is pretty low a 30 by 30 window. I found out this morning on a call to my local lumber yard cost about $40 and such a window will collect about 60,000 BTU British thermal units of energy for each square foot of glass area number doesn't mean anything but will put it in context. That's not too bad. And what that means is that a square foot of window will save you about a half a gallon of fuel oil over winter heating season, not too bad reasonable things with pretty Chief technology. Now the question becomes okay, you can compare that if you like to farming with a bullet in a Crooked Stick, okay. Now the question becomes are there better ways to capture solar energy or through your heating a house or whether you're plowing a field and the answer is that yeah, there are we've been working on some the simplest probably is to use what is called a flat plate solar collector. It's a black plate with a piece of glass over it. Okay, you're arranged to run air or water through the system and you capture solar energy. Okay now basically this is a matter of good engineering you can make one that does a pretty nice job. Okay, and in fact, it's far more efficient than a south-facing window. It's about three times. Just good know. If you have the choice between heating your home capturing your solar energy with a solar collector or doing it with a south facing window or for agriculture. If you have the chance between using say an international Farmall a 1940 vintage and a Crooked Stick and it will look okay, if you go with a collector, it'll cost you somewhere more but it'll do a better job. Okay, it'll cost you maybe twice as much but it'll give you about three times as in too much energy out. Okay, so they're goodbye if in fact The Price is Right. If it's not too hot now the question remains. Can you do better? Can you do a more efficient job of harvesting solar energy? And the answer, you know naturally because I asked it of you the answer has to be yes. Okay, you can if you want go to what is called a concentrating solar collector. You can go to a more sophisticated technology for harvesting your solar energy four-wheel drive diesel tractor, perhaps if you go to a concentrating collector, basically you're talkin about tricks with mirrors. Okay, you make something that is round and curved and that collects solar energy over a wide area and then focuses the Don out rather smaller area, so you'll get in fact a larger efficiency. Now, you also pay a penalty in terms of cost that's going to cost you about three times as much as a blacklight you get more out, but it cost you more in the question is and when do you win? No, should we go further? Have you heard about the schemes to put these huge satellites around the earth and you use then really big mirrors square miles in area and you collected all your bement back by microwaves and if you deem it to the Mississippi fly while you collect a few roast ducks in the process, but if you can get together with a few million other people and somehow get a government grant for roughly a billion dollars. You can do it right nicely. Again. Your efficiency is going to be higher. You're out what's going to be greater. But you know, it's a little more expensive it like a billion as compared to 50,000. Okay, so we have then a number of possible techniques to do the job. If we look at a garden-variety window the type of window you have in your house its overall efficiency is probably about at the 20% level but not much on the other hand. If you look at the usual variety of flat plate solar collector, they tend to have an overall efficiency of about 40% know if we go a bit further to what we call this fancy tricks with mirrors concentrating collector, we can go probably to about 70% or thereabouts. Okay, and if you really have the money and you put up one of these fancy satellites, you can probably achieved are near 100% So everybody knows the answer now to how you hate your house, right? Okay, you use a satellite because that gives you the highest efficiency everybody with me. Of course, obviously, that's not the way you go the thing you have to really measure is. Okay. What do you get but what's it cost you to get it? That's really what's important that least to everyone of us who isn't blessed with a and an infinite amount of money. So we talk not in terms of efficiency, but rather shall we say efficiency per dollar for dollar invested and dollars mean I can meet in, they can mean the natural resources that you put into the thing dollar stand for lots of things. And now if you look at the efficiency $4 the window is going to be not too bad. The flat plate collector is going to look a whole lot better. Remember it cost a little bit more but his performance was a whole lot better. The concentrating solar collector is going to begin to lose out because it takes a lot of money and some pretty doggone strong construction to keep that thing from toppling when you get one of these Minnesota hundred mile an hour winds and you all know what I'm talking about, right? Okay, and the satellite at this point anyway comes out for its best. So the curve that were really interested in seems to Peak at about where the flat plate collector is. It's not just because I'm biased it really looks as though flat plate collectors other way to go. You're going to get home to what it means and is it you can't simply look at efficiencies whether you're talking about efficiency in terms of heating a home or efficiency in raising chickens. Okay, efficiency by itself is not all that matters. It's what you put in compared with what you get. That's really important. I think you can look at agriculture in much the same way you have to view with some perspective that the whole concept of energy for energy source gives me efficiency for the sake of efficiency. We'll start out with something that we might call hunting and fishing Shirley low efficiency slightly more efficient. According to the experts is what might be called slash-and-burn technology where a farmer say in South America goes into a forested area cuts it down Burns it off grows a crop well in two or three years the crop is done for because you've exhausted what's in organic matter remain so you move on and you do it again. Okay slightly more efficient than that. There's the book and the plow. Okay the Crooked Stick agriculture if you like slightly more efficient than that one might put the 1930 vintage. Us agriculture beyond that we can go to 1950s and probably the efficiency for the 1970s is somewhat greater. So again, if you draw curve you find that gradually the efficiency is increasing now the point however becomes okay. What's really important in this case? Well, oh I should mention one of the thing here to the maximum efficiency. By the way for agriculture is something like not 100% but 10% at all fundamentally goes back to the efficiency of the plant is a solar energy Harvester, I guess the fundamental problem. There is that plants tend to be pretty sophisticated little fella see if you looked at a plan to detail you find a really quite complicated and also across the plan is also responsible for reproducing itself repairing itself and all these other things that we hire plumbers to do when we heat our homes with solar energy. Okay, so one increases as you go to something more sophisticated in this case, Okay, the question now becomes however, how should we look at agriculture? Should we look at it purely in terms of efficiency. That's kind of traditional these days or should we look at it and some other sense. Well, I suggest that one good way might be to look at it in terms of what you get per dollar invested. That's not a bad way. What I'd like to do. However instead of that is to look at what we might call the net energy ratio of what you get out of an agricultural practice compared to what you have to put in Let's see we were talking about the hunting and fishing agriculture that's up here at about 10 or 20 to 1 about 10 to 1 you get 10 times as much food as it takes you to go out and get that food. That's pretty good. Remember that if you ever need an excuse to go hunting. Okay, the other thing that one might look at is often called wet rice agriculture that they weren't the type of rice that the Chinese raised in the ways in which they do it. What rice is up here at twenty-to-one, you really win. If you plant rice time go home to your farm and see how far you get in trying to plant rice. Okay. You also do pretty well with range bad beef. You know Out Where the Buffalo Roam? Okay that comes out about 2 to 1. Okay. You also come out at about 2 to 1. So those are situations in which the farmer is truly an energy Harvester. He really gets more out then he puts in now. Let's take a look at the dairy industry. If you look at the sum total of the dairy industry for every calorie you get out you put about 1 calorie in not terribly good economics if you ran a business that why you wouldn't last long Here's intensive egg production down here in this area. Meaning that for every calorie you get out in terms of eggs. It takes you to calories to produce it. Okay, and again, you won't last long unless the particular type of energy or producing I eat eggs can command a premium price on the market and that is where something for sure the type of energy naturally matter somewhat two years intensive corn also down here in the one to two category. Apparently at least according to one author for every calorie of energy. You get out of a cornfield. You got to put two in terms of Machinery in terms of fertilizer in terms of pesticides in terms of Labor, although that's not much in terms of electricity for drying the include the whole ball of wax. You come out worse anywhere when you started Okay, think about that when you decide how much corn you want to race and finally way down here in the vicinity of 125 is feedlot beef. So unless you can command a premium price for that cow that your butchering to provide those filet mignon don't count on it as a source of energy production spat, okay. So that gives you a feeling then some feeling as to what might be an economically way to go in the future if the energy squeeze really gets on and it looks like it probably will now let's go into the fundamental question of what does the future really hold? Well that depends obviously on who you talk to. The energy supplies very but it's I think certain by now that despite the Alaska pipeline if we ever get the darn thing going so it stays going and nobody blows it up again, but that's a short-range duration. The gas in the I was fairly short Cole is going to be around for a while. But whatever you do, you're going to have to pay more and more and more for your energy Supply. Okay, unless maybe it's over. Then you have some chance to the cost of going up cost of energy is going up and you will find yourselves and we will find ourselves. We raise crops to competing again with a foreign Nationals who not only have cheap labor but somehow or other they also have our sophisticated machinery and I'm still trying to figure out exactly how it got over there. I think I have some ideas. But some recommendations finally I think are in order one one ought to try to become just as independent as you possibly can pretty hard to do. Independent in the energy aspect and it's not just because a farmer uses all that much energy. Although if you look at the industry as a whole Across the Nation, we are number three as an energy consuming industry number three. We're right up there with the paints in the Plastics. But the other aspect of it is that you have to remember that you're vulnerable if you're using fossil fuels and some Arab decides to turn off his valve. He's turned off your valve and you ought to be just as independent of him as you can be so reduced. This is much as you can't you ought to bear in mind that nitrogen fertilizer is extremely energy-intensive. That's the one big e in the budget practically along with your fuel oil or your diesel fuel that you use crop drawing is also becoming fairly significant. Now, you also have to remember that fundamentally your feels our solar energy collectors, right, but you can't collect solar energy was just black. It don't work at least you can't store it that way. So you ought to push to keep those fields green and collecting solar energy whenever you possibly can. The other thing to worry about is soil erosion whenever you lose a ton of topsoil, you're losing a lot of organic matter, which also has energy tied up into it not so much for direct human consumption, but for the microbes and they feed the plant in the plant feeds us. Now as a Parting Shot here, I'm going to give you my bets on the type of Agriculture that maybe most stable in the years to come. If you decide you want to do something here are some of the things you might look at in my bias judgment. Number one. The Criterium is the use of fossil energy. The most desirable practice is clearly. I think they're a little fossil energy use on the scale of five to one as opposed to at least desirable practice of extremely high fossil fuel energy use Number to you have to look at the other non renewable energy sources. Okay, whatever. They may be for example phosphate Exotic Metals. The most desirable practice is to try to avoid them. If you can't obviously you can't do that in every case 3 Farmstead uses solar energy. You ought to utilize it for crop drying for home heating for hot water at the very least. And of course watch then the green of your Fields as well as opposed to not using it at all for use of solar energy on cropland. Again, High utilization feels green during the growing season as opposed to probably not oats feel after you've taken the oats off and leaving it black for the rest of the summer you lose half of your solar energy collection 5 the nutrient Soil Conservation, I guess I would predict that a farmer who has very little run off of water and soil negligible leaching of calcium, which ties back to protein is going to be better off than one who is sloppy about it. So I'll tell Do your practices with promote aeration hummus microorganism growth as opposed to those that forget about it. Secondly 7th, I should say crop diversity. If you're acquainted with a Dutch Elm problem what you understand that one of the rules of nature. Is that the more diverse you are there more stable you are okay, if you had one M out of a hundred and you had a hundred other species, we wouldn't have a Dutch Elm problem, right? You know, you got that thing down and your plan a basswood tree or you do something else. But if you have a monoculture of elm trees nothing but Elm trees then it's a terrible loss. So watch your crop diversity become as diverse as one might be able to knowledge the operator. I feel a lot to be well-educated and soil biology and soil physic you really got to understand what's going on in there just isn't enough to know how to change the oil in your tractor or to run to some elegant computer program. I might push the point. To decide how your bucks are going to come out. You really have to understand what's going on in there. That's a biology. That's a physics question understand what's happening when your run over that land with your Tandem disc in your big tractors, are you compacting it? So you're reducing the oxygen available to the red system or what? Are you doing maintenance sophistication technological sophistication, if you can keep it simple, there are some advantages good quality extremely important you ought to push now knowing that in the future and you've seen it, I think already in fda's actions people are becoming fairly cognizant of what's in there food, not only nutritional value, but the presence or absence of pesticides food. E free from chemical residues Market structure, you ought to push for a premium available. If you have a quality product, it isn't just that you haul your corn in and he gives you whatever price it is available for corn and finally sales the more you can push direct to the consumer in the raw form the better off. I predict you're going to be okay, that's enough for today. Thank you for being so patient with me. This is professor Charles rinard of Southwest State University. Williams Institute In many ways, dr. Reinartz prescription for a more energy efficient farming sounds suspiciously like the body of practices which now go by the name of organic farming that was such Farmers these days off and prefer such terms as natural or biological farming Rodger blough Bob and agricultural consultant from Creston Iowa has been working with Barry commoner's project in which 14 Organic Farms throughout the Corn Belt were carefully matched with 14 conventional farms for 3 years. Now these Farms have been studied and their inputs and productivity carefully compared low bum talk to the Royal youth Institute participant about the study and he began by describing a typical so-called organic farm. The characteristics of these farms in most cases is a door not use any commercial fertilizer. They do not use pesticides and other chemicals. They utilize manure to the fullest extent possible. They also purchase Some organic type of fertilizer materials, they rotate their crops and in effect, they raised produce on the farm much of their own nitrogen and that in that sense that is very much like agriculture was before the time that we started using chemicals. Now I'm not going to get into a whole lot of details on exactly how this was done. But the main things that were looked at where energy intensity. Total value of crops and probably most important in terms of people who were interested in this kind of a study. What were the yields? What are the yields on a farm that uses all of the conventional methods of today as compared to one that uses what many people would say was a very backward type of agriculture. Why just to get right down to what the results were in terms of yields? They were very close on corn the conventional Farms. I'll gilded the organic farms in the first year. It was 76 bushel against 74 and it was drought in part of the area in the second year. It was 94 vs. 74 in terms of soybeans. It was 29 conventional and 32 organic and a second-year 38 conventional and 35 organic and so far they were very close for we're talkin about corn. soybeans wheat oats and hay the gross proceeds from the conventional Farms was quite a bit higher than from The Organic Farms. There's there are two explanations for this one. Is there someone higher yields and the other is that the conventional Farms had much less of their cropland in rotation and a much larger proportion of their cropland in high value crops, like corn and particularly soybeans. Where is the organic farmers candidate because of a rotating their crops and having a lot of legumes have to have more. Hay and their hey, you look better and more silage and things of that kind and so there was a big difference in that respect in terms of production costs on the other hand. The organic farmers were well under the conventional Farmers something like I don't see the exact figure here, but Money around $20 an acre as I recall then when you balance this out the greater gross for the conventional farmers and the lower input cost for the organic farmers in both years the net profit and really the bottom line is what you're interested in as a farmer was virtually the same. And that is the fact also with the third year. Although I'm not at Liberty to give you the figures on that because they're not yet approved and published. There are some other differences as well. In terms of energy The Organic Farms used only one-third as much energy as a conventional Farms now, it's true. Of course that you didn't get quite as much production in terms of a green particular light. The Organic Farms you a slightly more labor and in most cases this was expended in a weed control the organic farmers because they did not use herbicides tended to be more careful about weeds that did a lot more mowing around the edges of the fields a lot more walking beans and going through the fields with a hole had to catch the cockaburrs and things of this kind of the difference was 3.3 hours per acre for the organic farmers and 3.2 hours per acre for the conventional farmers. Some testing was done in the second year and this has continued into the third year in terms of the amount of organic matter that is in the soil on these two kinds of farm. This is a measure of soil fertility and there is a significant difference in favor of the organic type of production. In terms of soil erosion again, very preliminary figures because this study did not have a lot of money to do the kind of work that needs to be done. Again. The Organic Farms had less soil erosion. So those are very important factors. So I guess just to just to sum this up. There was more production on the conventional Farms. There was more gross. There was more energy used about Twilight about the three times as much and most of that was as a Chuck rinard pointed out in nitrogen fertilizer and to a much lesser extent in diesel fuel and gasoline and the energy used to dry corn propane. Let's say our electricity. The organic coup group use considerably less energy $4 of crop output and per acre of cropland at slightly greater labor in foot per acre. So then I guess the the main conclusion that you can draw from this in the conclusion that the researchers did draw is that this is a viable alternative at least to the extent of deserving a lot more research than its had in the past Rodger blough bomb of Rodger blough balm and Associates and agricultural consulting firm in Creston, Iowa. Calvin Beal is a demographer who leads the population studies group of the United States Department of Agriculture. He was present at the rural use Institute to talk about recent population Trends in Rural America. We reached maximum number of farms in this country during World War 1 And the farm population then began to drift slowly down as a mechanical Power was substituted for horses. And as it came to be an end of of new lands to open now when I was your age on I am assuming that most of the probably more of you will 17 than any other age 16 not supposed to When I was your age, there were 30 million people living on farms in the United States. Today, they're just a little more than 8 million a tremendous reduction. This sudden movement was a very logical one. It was very rational and it was something that didn't just happen in our country because of particular agricultural policies in the part of the government. It happened and it happened in all of the advanced nations of the world. It happens in the Soviet Union that happens in in Sweden Athens and in Britain to Australia or Canada, not necessarily always to the same extent exactly with the same timing but the forces that led to rationalization of agricultural production and attracting people into the cities have been International in character and they have transcended political systems are economic systems of social systems. So we went through a period of very rapid loss particular beginning with with World War II and then after World War II Lost in the van population and in the population of many small towns that were heavily dependent on agriculture. An occupation typically declines by young people failing to enter it. Yes to some other people who dropped out but the basic mechanism is for the people who are established in it to continue and younger people not enter. So you'll get them a very rapid increase in the average age of the people who are in the occupation and those who in the community and this sets up a a momentum of its own that that becomes at least partly psychological. I have no doubt whatever that in many world communities The Exodus of young adults such as yourself High School Leaving age continued long after the economic reasons that had started it ceased to be as powerful as they were yet the trend of thought people leaving small van small towns rural areas had to come to an end sometime. It was self-correcting and self exhausting in part. We weren't abandoning farming. Farming as a business was bigger than ever but the amount of workers are potential workers in farming with so much out of balance with the number who are any longer needed in terms of of how much land a family could operate how many hours it took to handle an acre of land as compared with the past. So we have shifted from more people leaving rural areas than entering. To a time when we are having more people enter rural areas and then leave and when more people are remaining behind in those areas young adults than would have in the past even though many will still leave to get a college education off of some type of urban work experience. I would say that there are probably four basic categories of reasons why this happened one people are not being displaced from their traditional rule Industries. They way they were in the past weather for farming or mining or Timber work. There are many more are the types of job opportunities available in the world and small City setting than they used to be beginning in the mid-1960s. There was a major decentralization of manufacturing in this country including in in Minnesota. All the Minnesota would not rank is high in this as many of the southern states would 3rd, there is a change in attitudes and values which is a very real thing the whole ecological environmental movement the whole revolution in the values of abuse has broken this former attitude of it being unpopular unrewarding somehow disquieting to stay behind in a rural area. Answer that is repeatedly show now that as was mentioned that a majority of American people think they would like to live in a rural area or small town. I don't think a majority ever will. I think we almost have to continue to be basically an Urban Nation, but the sort of pell-mell unrestricted influx of people into the major metropolitan cities has ended and at least for the moment and since 1970 more people are going into the smaller non-metropolitan centers or into the small towns and rural areas to illustrate Bill discuss the present situation in the state of Minnesota. Minnesota's population is not growing as rapidly as that of the US of the whole that groom by little more than 3% in these five years. Whereas the US has a hole increased by a little less time than it Minnesota a little more than 3% us grew by little less than 5% but within Minnesota the non metropolitan population, which is the rural areas and and counties of up with cities of up to 50,000 people beyond the commuting range of Minneapolis. These Counties have been growing in population a little more rapidly than the Metropolitan counties and no one in his right mind 10 years ago would have thought that that would happen. interesting Lake the parts of the state that have turned around the most Are the Open Country areas? The Incorporated Villages and towns themselves proper within their Municipal limits have had very little growth. Now. This is not shown on these documents. The Minnesota's non-metropolitan towns and cities have only had it a growth of less than 1% of population since 1970, but the Open Country areas have grown by Nelly 8% People are much more interested. In having a place in the country and several Acres. Even if the alternative is is living in a small town rather than having to live in a very large city. You have counties that are having no gross overall, but that are having substantial growth of people living out in the open country. I can recall talking to one of your county agents who has said that he has farmers in this County who get tears in their eyes when they think of The Farmhouse is that they tore down seven or eight years ago when they bought an adjoining farm for consolidation because they now could get 1040 $50,000 perhaps for selling that form a farmhouse and some small acreage around it. The current movement of people into rural areas and small town does not is not directed toward the highest income areas. It seems to reflect people of all ages young and old alike placing more importance on non-economic factors in their decision if I wear to move everyone has to have money. but people are not moving in a manner that maximizes the amount of of income that they have. What about the future of this trend? I've been describing. I'm not sure how long it'll last and no one is demographers and I called myself a demographer population analysts have had rather notoriously bad luck over in in my time in the business and predicting population Trends accurate. Like I've said that I certainly don't think we're going to become a predominantly rural Nation will still be basically a nation in which a majority of people live in an urban or Suburban setting. The current Trend does have some momentum to it. And because there are a number of factors producing it. I don't think it will be easy to stop and turn around and finally just as the trend of people moving away from farms. And consolidating funds going into the cities was an international Trend. So is this movement back into rural areas and small towns and international fan. It is evident in the most advanced nations of the Western World essay in in Northern and Northwestern Europe by where they conditions in rural and urban areas in terms of material conveniences of Life ability to earn a decent living have converged and become rather close. I don't see it going on in areas where there is still great disparities between the average conditions of rural and urban life. I think the trend on expressing an opinion now, but I think the trend is generally beneficial. It certainly normalizes. They caught the age composition and distribution of many rural counties where the average age of the population had gotten be very high. We had scores of counties in the midwest rural counties where there were more people say 6264 years of age then they were 2224 scores of counties where the average age of the whole population was up around 4:30 when the average age of the nation as a whole would be down around 25 and this has many many effects on the ability of a community to finance Public Services the willingness to to have a range of of adequate government services and Facilities. Good life in a rural setting I can be surprisingly attractive to many people who have been reared in large cities. If they don't expect too much in the way of levels of income because on the average income levels in rural areas are lower still than income levels in the cities. And if they don't expect too much in the way of the same services and access to facilities that they had in the city. I'm going to close with one of my favorite stories. The comment that I heard a young legislator from the North Dakota State Legislature make a couple of years ago young fellow in his early 30s. speaking rather Riley but affectionately about his hometown. He said been in his hometown of Berlin North Dakota population Incorporated population 72 was the cultural center of Henrietta Township, LaMoure County Or at least he said it was until his cousin. Who lived a couple miles outside of town bought himself a set of the World Book Encyclopedia and that shifted the center of culture? Calvin Beal leader of the population studies group of the United States Department of Agriculture Former Congressman John's walk from Luke and told the real youth Institute that the future of rural development depends upon the ownership of agricultural land to have a stable rural economy. Farmland must be owned by as many producers as possible cuz walk said this system of Diversified ownership is being threatened by the increasing number of small farmers that are going out of business. We have the number of producers of Farmland some three million firms. We're down to about two and a half million producers. And you know the greatest law ever enacted by the United States Congress was in Lincoln's time 1862 when they passed the Homestead Act. And the Homestead Act gave to everybody the teeming millions of poor from Europe and they were poor through your ancestors through your great-grandparents. They gave them a quarter of section of good land west of the Mississippi River for living on it for five years in for planting a few trees until we establish. This country has the greatest broadcast. Ownership of land ever experienced anywhere in the world that shows that gave us a nation of stability. I can go to any area. In the six District or anywhere in the state. I do find the names there today that were there when that got the homestead back there a hundred years ago something less or something more the same name. I read the other daily engine outbreak in New Orleans 1962. I got my amazement the exact same names that were there and I didn't get outbreak are there today to see the stability that the ownership of land? Gave to the community. It feels good churches. It feels good schools. It feels good businesses. It created a great stability and an independent hard-working people approve and could get the results of their labors. No other country in the world has hit that. Compare with that South America where 2% of the people own 95% of the land. 3% of the people short of live in the periphery of that 2% at 95% live in abject poverty rate for Socialism or communism. Anything is better than the oppression that they have. No. And why have we been so stable because we had a broad ownership when I tell you that slipping away and I'm an optimist, but I predict that unless we change things unless you change things and help change that by the year 2000 the family far as we know what today is going to be pretty well out of the picture. Your children will not have the opportunity to tell if are they have lucky parents that somewhere going to be able to work at down with her? We've already gotten today. We're at $1,500 an acre of thousand dollars an acre more or less a young man trying to start from scratch cannot that all start in our great business of agriculture. I tried there is some glue even to me and Optimist and yet the Family Farm proven over and over again in every respect for the production of food for stability for social values for Spiritual values. Is the most efficient productive producer of food in the world? Let's not use former Minnesota 6th District Congressman John's walk from Luke Han. The current u.s. Congressman from Minnesota 6th District is of course Richard Nolan and he spoke to the rule used Institute about this year's Farm Bill explain the conflicting philosophies over the level of federal price of pork for agricultural Commodities on the one hand. You have a the free market Advocates who say that the for the most part the government should stay out of Agriculture and if anything just assist in helping expand overseas markets and the not establish price support levels too high because if see if they're set up to High they'll interfere with the World Market and the the free market Advocates always argue that the support levels or agriculture should be lower than the lowest price for a particular commodity. Anywhere in the world, so if there's a country producing corn $4.37 a bushel than our support level should be $8.30 a bushel and they argue that because they feel that if our support levels are lower than the global minimum. Then nobody else will be able to compete with us and the other countries around the world will purchase our stocks of a food and the NEX s supplies that might exist will be eliminated and then the market price will move back up to hopefully a profitable level there other people on the other hand who advocated that the other extreme a very very rigidly a control system where the government would have a strict production controls and decide how much of a particular crop that you can you can plant and what the price is going to be for it under that kind of assistant what the country does the government of each year would decide what the domestic requirements are for corn what the expected the exports are for corn? And take a look at last year's planted acreage of corn and they say that it looks like we're going to produce a 10% too much. And so at that point they would order a 10% cut back everybody have to cut back their corn 10% and that the government would fix a price. So presumably at a level to cover the cost of production plus of some kind of a reasonable profit why I think the farm bill that has just been passed is is probably as is often the case somewhere in between the two types of Concepts and programs in agriculture. And what we have done is Seth the loan levels for corn for example at $2 a bushel for weed at $2.25 a bushel and set the target prices. Somewhat higher in the Target prices are our direct cash payments a to the farmers for producing food. And the Target price for weed is $2.90 for corn. It's $2 the same as loan rate, but after this year it'll be escalated the Target price each year to take into consideration increases in the cost of production. The reason why there's a difference between a loan rate in a Target price represents a cash payment that a farmer can receive from the government loan rate represents the rate at which a farmer can give his commodity to the government and get a loan in return for that. And if the market price isn't above that loan rate, well, then he defaults on the lawn giving the government the commodity and he keeps the in this case $2 for every a bushel of corn that he put into lawn in the next federal Farm Bill Nolan would like to see an alternative type of price support system such as one being considered by the dairy and poultry subcommittee that system would favor the smaller producer. By giving him a higher level of support on a limited amount of production. So maybe you would support a million pounds of milk annually it 90 or a hundred percent of parity. Are you at support maybe sixteen Bush sixteen thousand bushels of wheat? That's a 90 or a hundred percent of parity and maybe forty thousand bushels of corn at maybe 90% of parody any production in excessive that the producer would just have to take whatever the market would bear. There's a feeling that that's kind of a system might help the smaller family size operators and producers more than the the current system which for the most part has been characterized by really wide fluctuations in an agricultural lime prices during the question-and-answer. Which followed his talk Congressman. Nolan was asked to elaborate on the size of agricultural producer. That would be eligible for the higher price support level. There are some experts now that are saying for example of 70 Cowherd is about the maximum Optimum level of efficiency for dairy production a family one family with me bu, you know, I hired hand and that many cows over in that you start decreasing scales of efficiency. You'd have to establish some kind of an arbitrary level but I heard of that size would produce maybe a million pounds of milk a year. And so what the ball is the concept of going insane loc. Let's give Any dairy producer who was willing to produce dairy products 100% of parody. I'm for real a million pounds of milk a year after that or then he would have to take whatever the the market would bear. And so under that kind of a system you are smaller in all family size operators will be getting a very good price. Now. There was some big corporate Enterprise of days. There are some milk and 10 20 thousand cows why they too would get a hundred percent of parody on their first million pounds, but anything after that, they would have to get whatever the price would whatever the market would bear. So in essence what you would have until you have a situation where you are largest producers would have to bear the brunt of overproduction. And you're smaller producers would be taken care of now. I did some cost calculating and I determined that right now the price support for milk is 83% of Perry. And that covers all of the production right whether you're milking to kauser or 20,000 cows. you could for the cost of that it if it's costing the treasury right now about seven hundred million dollars annually to do that for that the same seven hundred million dollars you could support I'm all Dairy Farmers with 35 cows. We should be producing about 360,000 lb annual you could see you could support their production at 90% of parody. I'm for the same cost at it it takes to support all the production at 83% of parody. So the effect of that kind of a program would be to take the money that you're spending and targeted more to your smaller or medium-sized producers now whether or not whether you would pick on milk, you know, 365 thousand pounds or seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds per million pounds is a somewhat arbitrary figure, but you'd have to decide what's the best size dairy farm farming unit for ecological sociological and other reasons taking all those values into consideration and then decide and then give them a real good time price support level. So you make darn well sure they stay in production. In addition to an alternative system of price of Parts Noland told Vicky sturgeon in me that he would like to see more research and extension services that would benefit the small farmer. One of the things we've never really had are some good studies on what is the optimum level of efficiency for a farming unit and our department of agriculture's never done this cuz they've always been committed to the notion of the concept the biggest beautiful the bigger you can get it the better. It is and has a larger than Machinery why the better it is and now we're finding that there are some interesting very interesting studies on agriculture coming out and none of them are being funded by the Department of Agriculture. The small farms project out in the Braska I forget but I think it's funded by either h e w or the National Science Foundation and there's some other projects that are being funded by h e w and the Rand Corporation and Every place except for the Department of Agriculture, which is the group that really should be doing it. Now. One of the things I got through the Farmdale wasn't amendment I put on and committing to is to establish a 20 million dollar research and extension service program for small farms. I'm very very proud of that and I'm going to try my best to get it properly funded by the Appropriations Committee, but this might be one way that we have of encouraging small or Family Farms by giving them some real research and extension services. We find it just about all of the research and all of the extension services are geared to the large-scale farming operation. You're the country is spending billions of dollars on research and extension service and it's benefiting about 10% of the farmers and the other run 90% of the small or medium-sized Farmers that have been benefiting little or not at all from that entire program. And that's a scandal Minnesota 6th District Congressman Richard Nolan. We spoke with him following his address before the Minnesota rural youth Institute held at Southwest State University in Marshall during the week of August 8th through 12th. Earlier on this afternoon's program. You heard. Dr. Charles Reiner professor of physics at Southwest State agricultural consultant Rodger blough bomb Calvin being a leader of the population studies group of the US Department of Agriculture and former 6th District Congressman John's walk. Funds for the recording of this material were provided in part by the Northwestern Banks of Marshall and Slaton and by PPG Industries. This program was produced for Minnesota Public Radio in the Worthington Studios of krsw by Vicky sturgeon and by Yours Truly Kim Hodgson.


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