Putting Things In Perspective

Prairie Gleanings

Over the summer, I read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The n...

Published on: October 28, 2008

Over the summer, I read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The novel makes you realize the current financial crisis is nothing compared to what tenant farmers endured during the Great Depression.


The story focuses on the Joads, who leave Oklahoma in search for work in California. Once the family arrives in California, things get even tougher. Work is hard to find. When they do find work, the wages aren't enough to feed a family.


At one point in the book, one of the farmers says if a man only had five acres, he could feed his entire family. Steinbeck also writes of farmers who tried to sneak a few vegetable crops in the middle of another person's field.


Interestingly enough, this line of thinking is completely foreign for many people today. Instead, people think in terms of I need to make this much per hour to make rent, car payments, insurance premiums, etc. People no longer think in terms of land equals food.


It was also refreshing to see how driven the characters were. Despite being low income families, they worked day and night just to eat. Unfortunately, it seems this has also changed.


This week, many of the Farm Progress editors were discussing how the financial crisis will affect ag. For the most part, the editorial team agreed ag's financial strength is looking good. Bankers may be asking for more information to verify profitability, but credit is still available. Plus, many lenders will be more conservative in the current climate.


As part of the discussion on the financial crisis, many of the editors shared resources they'd come across. Visit www.agecon.purdue.edu/news/financial_crisis.asp to take advantage of Purdue University's economic analysis. The University of Illinois also put together a package of documents to advise farmers in the current situation. They are available here www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/ifeu/.


What are you hearing with regard to the financial crisis? Has it impacted your operation in any way? Comment here, or send me an e-mail: jflint@farmprogress.com.