Why I Grow Corn

In Blogroll, Education, Farming, General, Land Use by Guest Blogger

This guest blog comes compliments of Darin’s Ramblings and farmer Darin Grimm.

Please note this is a rant, I hope it doesn’t detract from the quality I want to bring to this blog, but it’s my thoughts this morning, so I’ll share.

I’m tired of seeing the constant bashing that corn gets in social media or even pop culture today. I grow corn, and I’d like to try to explain a bit why I do.

You see, each year, I make choices of what I wish to plant. The freedom is mine, as someone trying to make their living off the land, I tend to be interested in crops that might generate the income I need to raise my family. I could plant papayas, lilacs, or even green beans, but I don’t. Unfortunately, the Kansas weather is what it is, and there’s folks around the world that can raise those things much better/more affordably than I can. We can raise corn here though, because we can (at least most years).

I hear how subsidized corn is.. I wish folks could understand, looking back on the last three years of financials on our farm, we have received some subsidies, I would love to debate that issue some day, like most centrally planned government programs, the farm bill that delivers those subsidies leaves a lot to be desired, but that’s not the point of this post.. The point is, I could have grown pretty much whatever crops I wanted the last few years, and my subsidy check from the government would have been EXACTLY the same. My farm received no subsidies for planting corn instead of another crop.

I hear all the time from the environmental crowd how destructive corn is there. Well, probably THE most important environmental resource on our farm is the soil. I’d invite anyone to come visit, esp. after a heavy rain, bring your mud boats, we can walk some fields and I can show you the tremendous soil conservation benefits of corn residue vs. other crops. Not only does it keep the soil from washing/blowing, but the massive residue provides the building blocks for improving organic matter, a key component of soil health.

Having said all that, let me say this. I’d love to find another crop to grow. Preferably one that let us spread the workload out a bit, gave us more to do say in the summer, and help alleviate the stress of trying to do everything in the spring/fall. I actually hoped wheat could fill that role, unfortunately there’s less and less wheat being planted in northeast Kansas. If you think that’s because somehow that “massive corn lobby” has swindled a bunch of Kansas farm folk into planting a crop we don’t want to… Uugg, thanks for having so much confidence in us, but please read this post again.

For those that have the perfect “system” of how to change all this, so I can grow papayas, lilacs, green beans, or whatever your wonder crop is, lets have that discussion.. here in the comments, Twitter, Google Buzz, wherever you prefer. But I’ll tell you my bias going in.. Markets bring excesses, they swing too far at times, but I’m pretty confident this thing called the market does a pretty good job of telling me if and when I should be growing corn.