RIPLEY COUNTY, Ind. — Overproduction is driving down prices of the corn and soybeans that Indiana grows, and that means farmers aren’t making enough money, says Jim Benham, head of the Indiana Farmers Union. Benham said regulation is the fair solution.
“As much technology as we’ve got today and the more people know, it really hasn’t helped us any,” said Benham. “If everybody else knows what I’m doing before I get it it done, it’s not to my advantage.”
Benham is going to Washington this week with a group of farmers from across the country to meet with politicians and to lobby for fairer deals and more government regulation for farms and farmers.
“It is tremendously competitive. The worst of it is, the industrial ag side of things has gotten so much control that they control the seed we buy. They control the product we sell. We’re just a middle man that’s producing a crop,” said Benham, who is partially retired, and farms in Ripley County.
He said overproduction is responsible for the farmer getting only a few cents on every dollar.
“We overproduce everything. We are our own worst enemy. Logically you would say, why don’t you cut back 25 percent? Well, it makes sense. But, then my neighbor goes and tries to take advantage of it.”
Ripley said he remembers when the government would regulate how much product a farmer could sell in a season. That helped control prices and overproduction, he said.
“Once we went to the free market, everything went to pot,” he said. “If we’ve got too many cars, then we stop making cars. But, agriculture, we just don’t do it. We keep producing wether we need it or not.”
Photo: Getty Images / Mardis Coers