Growing up in the small town of Shenandoah, I came of age during the farm crisis of the 1980s. Simply put, it was not a fun time to be a farm kid.
The single biggest force making things better for ag over the last 40 years was the explosive growth of the renewable fuels industry during the first decade of this century. In high school, I remember getting 30 cents under the Chicago price for corn at the local elevator. Today, our local ethanol plant routinely offers 30 to 40 cents over Chicago. That change in farm income did not happen by accident, and we should not assume it won’t go away if ethanol production does.
After a 30-year hiatus, my family recently started farming our own land again. To be fair, my brother and dad do most of the work. Basically, they let me drive the grain cart. It was great to get my son back home last fall to “help” as three generations brought in the harvest. Isn’t that why we are here? To utilize the ground the good Lord provided, to do so in a sustainable and profitable way, and to try to leave the place a little better than we found it for the next generation?
I understand the deep connection farmers feel for their land. I share it, and I appreciate the emotions that arise when the topic of carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS, comes up. The farm I grew up on now has a pipeline running under it and a runway going over it. Believe me, I understand eminent domain.