Posts tagged economics
CSA: Community Supported Agriculture

Spring is (finally) here, which means that summer - my favorite season - is just around the corner. I am so excited.

We’ve finally moved to our forever home where I can’t wait to start my own garden. But, alas, I still don’t have the space (or the time, energy, or know-how) to grow as many veggies as I want.

I am therefore ever thankful for my local CSA.

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Sustainability Spotlight: Local Vegetable Farm

Meet Joe Miller. He and his wife, Chris, are the full-time owners/operators of Miller Farms, a medium-sized vegetable farm in Northern Colorado. Miller Farms consists of 400 acres of vegetables, additional acreage in field corn, and a few more acres of hay.

In addition to farming, a couple of years ago they started to raise cattle for beef – but it’s not much – they originally got into cattle because their kids and grandkids liked to work with them. This sentiment is telling of why Joe is involved in farming at all: his passion is teaching kids and adults where food comes from. He wants to make food affordable.

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Sustainability Spotlight: Large-Scale Commodity Farm

If there is one word I could use to describe Lee Scheufler, my father and the co-owner/operator of Scheufler Farms, Inc. it would be efficient.

“I wasn’t going to marry a farmer!” declares Margaret, wife of efficient Lee, my mother and co-owner/operator of Scheufler Farms.

“But my charm overwhelmed her,” Lee jokes with a wink.

Scheufler Farms is a large-scale grain farm in the smack-dab center of Kansas. Lee and Margaret have been married over 30 years and together manage this 100% family farm with only one full-time employee. Their farming philosophy is to run a highly efficient enterprise to capture low cost per unit production.

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Every Purchase Matters

We live in a global society. In fact, you're probably using a device right now whose components were manufactured in six of the seven continents on our planet. In our modern society, the surplus harvest in Russia affects the US wheat markets and widespread drought in the Midwest can cause famine in developing nations.

Likewise, the clothes we buy affect everyone from the cotton-growers in Alabama to the seamstress in Bolivia to the CEO behind glass doors.

Every Purchase Matters. This is the mantra of Fair Trade USA, an organization and movement dedicated to identify producers who respect both people and the environment.

You may have noticed many of the products on my site are Fair Trade Certified. If you've never heard of this concept, I want to share with you what brought me to decide to make this a central part of my business model.

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The Next Generation of American Agriculture

My Dad was featured in the Wall Street Journal last month. That's right, I'm basically the daughter of a celebrity.

He and several other farmers in Central Kansas (like my high school classmate Mason!) were interviewed for the article: The Next American Farm Bust is Upon Us. Unfortunately, the tone of the article was less than positive; apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed the piles of grain across my home state last summer and it's not an illusion that the low price of grain is going to force some farmers out of business.

This begs the question: How will American Agriculture respond to this changing climate?

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But Where Does it All Go?

A few months ago I wrote about the volatility of the farming economy - the Invisible Hand of supply, demand, and incentive programs. Today, that picture is more evident than ever as you drive across the plains of Kansas: mounds of grains are piled high outside of elevators that have been at capacity for months. I mentioned the record-breaking yields that farmers have had this year.

Most industries vary their output based on demand. If toy giraffes are all the rage with the age-one-to-three-year-olds this year, you better believe that more toy giraffes are going to saunter off the production line. When the popularity of giraffes wanes, production decreases.

Unlike other types of producers, farmers are much more at the mercy of the elements (rather than demand) to determine their output, and consumption remains relatively stable. So, when output goes up, prices go down and storage overflows.

This begs the question: where does all that extra grain go??

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