Published Feb 22, 2011

Not everyone is plowing fence row to fence row

By Teresa Opheim

A story running on Iowa radio stations today, with quotes from one of our favorite PFI farmers
AUDUBON, Iowa – U.S. supplies of corn and soybeans are expected to be so low this year and prices for those commodities so high that, nationally, farmers could plant an additional ten million acres to those crops, but some Iowa farmers are resisting the urge to plow up every acre. Last year, across the country, 245.3 million acres was planted to the eight major crops.

Audubon farmer Vic Madsen is among those intending to put more acres to
grass for grazing.

“That’s probably the hardest thing right now, when there are good markets,
is to look at the long-term quality of the farm in ten or 20 years versus
the short-term income statement.”

He says that by managing grazing by livestock a farmer can save enough on
feed costs to be competitive with the increased price of grain.

“It seems that you can dramatically increase the tonnage of feed per acre
with managing the grazing, and that does have to be done to compete with
corn and soybeans.”

Madsen says many Iowa farmers bucking the trend of planting fence-row to
fence-row are not only concerned about long-term profitability but the
long-term problems of runoff and water quality when there are more row crops and less pasture.

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