Farming is all about making money

Do you think it’s at all possible to take emotion out of the agriculture equation?

For farmers to tackle any debate regarding our business without the sentiments of days long gone by and to regard themselves as businesspeople who are in farming to make money?

Jip, I think so. Perhaps not the older guys, but Boeta – the young ones know what it’s all about!

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And it’s refreshing to hear people like the Free State’s Prof Johan Willemse telling farmers it’s not their job to feed the nation. That’s government’s responsibility. Their job, as farmers, to produce enough affordable food at a profit.

In other words, as I’ve said, their job is to make money. Farming folk are no different from any other entrepreneurs. Profits are (literally) the bottom line in any commercial enterprise.

But it seems to me that farmers have, for many years, believed that making money in the business of farming was reserved for a privileged few who had the ‘Midas touch’.

I might be wrong about this, though. But for the greater part of my life I harboured the idea that farmers were not in the business for the money. They were in it for a myriad others reasons – sentiment, tradition, (warped) dedication to the land, and so on.

So I was quite taken aback when I first heard Prof Willemse telling farmers they ought to be farming to make money – and if they’re not, it would be better to get out, because they simply won’t make it in the long run.

He makes sense. Of course farming is a business. Of course a farmer’s first priority as a businessperson should be to make money. Of course it is downright stupid to cling to a struggling concern for Oupa’s sake.

I was therefore inordinately impressed by the young farmers at the recent spate of agricultural congresses in my part of the world. They have their own problems and challenges, but they’re fortunate in the sense that these things actually unite them.

In the past farmers have been so deeply divided by political and, very often, religious differences they couldn’t see the trees for the forest.

But the young ones… They know what it’s all about. They know talk is cheap but money buys the whiskey.

Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.