Here is what I thought about when I read your article “Machinery misers” [Mid-March 2002, page 24]. Don't they make enough profit to buy better equipment? They must have more downtime than someone who runs newer equipment. If they ever need to do some heavy tillage, they won't have the necessary equipment. If they are making money, they probably rent more land at higher costs, hurting all farmers around them.
It's a free country and people can do as they please. But I will tell you how my brother and I run our operation. We farm 960 acres in Butler County, NE, and most of that is rented. We do a whole spread from no-till to conventional till, dependent upon what the land calls for. We have a full line of equipment, including the following:
1992 JD 8760, 1,600 hrs.
1997 JD 8300, 1,200 hrs.
1998 JD 8100, 1,000 hrs.
1995 R62 Gleaner, 900 hrs.
2002 1710 12-row planter
1999 DMI Tigermate II field cultivator
1998 Field Pro Bestway sprayer with Raven controller
1997 AL 700 grain cart
The list goes on from there, but you get the picture. And it's all paid for. We try to replace something every year. The tax benefits and reliability factor are a big plus. If times get tough and we dry up like we have for the last two years, we won't have to buy any equipment and we probably won't have many repair bills either. If we choose to invest in more land, we have the equipment for it and won't have to wonder can we make it if we buy this land or will our equipment make it through this much more ground. We will have good stands behind a good planter. Low field loss behind a newer combine. Less downtime with a newer machine, which is worth a lot at planting and harvest.
We all know that the newer equipment is more fuel-efficient and a whole lot nicer to run all day. Why should I sell that equipment and run more acres with less equipment? And for how long should I do this? And what are the benefits? I don't want to just get by farming; I want to enjoy it and have fun doing it. After all, that's why everyone farms. No one is forced to farm are they?
I thought the article “Hiring ‘smarts’” [April 2002, page 6] was very good. However, one thing that is often overlooked in retaining good employees is attention to their safety and health. Producers need to spend time and money on occupational safety and health, both to protect their employees and to make it clear their employees are valued. Time spent on safety-related training, and money spent on creating a safe work environment (e.g., retrofitting safety devices or upgrading machinery and systems) and top-quality personal protective equipment, are excellent investments. Both are necessary to fully care for employees.
Mark A. Purschwitz, Ph.D.
Director, University of Wisconsin
Center for Agricultural Safety and Health
University of Wisconsin — Madison
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