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"I love the small farm, but reality says that as things become more efficient there's going to be less and less of people doing the same job… In 1920 if there were 200 people making automobiles and there's three now. Same way with farming. If there were 14,000 farmers in Nebraska, there might be 10,000 at some point. I mean it just – and then with the age of the farming community, its hard for anybody at this stage to come back. And if I was the son of a lumberyard owner it would be hard for that person to come back and say, 'I'm going to become a farmer and just start out.' So you get a little bit of attrition through people not coming back to the farm and then just older families that have kept it in the family as an older generation that are retiring."
     [Question:] "And how many acres are you running?"
     "Just enough to keep us busy."
     [Question:] "[Laughs.] Can you be more specific about that?"
     "Over a thousand."
     [Question:] "Over 1,000."
     "When I started farming everything was in about four mile radius of the farm. Now it's more like a 20-mile radius of the farm. So you get spread out a little bit… You spend a little more time on the road than you do on the tractor sometimes.
     "You have to be larger to get the economies of scale. And I say that tongue in cheek because there are several ways to get to the same end. There's a lot of value added crops. I have neighbors that grow grapes. You could have a wonderful winery off of 20 acres, or 30 acres, which would give you a very good income. The livestock producers, some of those have turned old confinement buildings into catfish hatcheries. There's a lot of different ways to get the same [end]. If you're going to be a corn and soybean grower, you probably have to have to be on the growth mode to stay with the competition…
     "With equipment, you have to stay current. Things wear out, and you try to be as efficient as you can. It's kind of like with any business. If you're buying computers, you know things wear out. As far as land, it's really hard yet for a young farmer – I don't consider myself young anymore which is kind of sad – but to really get into the land market right now there's a lot of different money coming in from the cities and people buying land for different reasons. And from a farm standpoint and the returns that it does make, it's really kind of a hard purchase."

Troy Otte – The Logic of Large Farms

   

Excerpts from Troy Otte’s Interview:

Starting Up in the 80s
Why be a Farmer?
Who Runs Rural Communities?
Investing in Ethanol
Fertilizer Efficiency
Genetic Engineering
Are Pivots Worth the Cost?
Computers on the Farm