The Ultimate Gamble Creates our Food Supply

By Evan Shertzer –

Every year they always go all in, they have no other choice.

A wheat harvest in Kansas. Photo from

It’s spring and the weather is finally nice. It’s a big time of the year for farmers, it’s planting time. This is the time of year when every farmer around here is rushing to plant their corn, beans and many other crops. After the large amount of rain and flooding during the previous weeks, the weather was finally nice outside so all the farmers scurried to get their crops growing.

That is their gamble, by placing all their money in and hoping to get out more than they put in.

Farmer’s got an average $3.83 per bushel of corn in 2010 according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. In 2011 though, the cost per acre of planting corn is supposed to go up 13 percent to 14 percent, which means profits go down.

“For rotational corn, which is most of the corn in Indiana, our estimates show variable costs in 2011 up around 13 percent compared with 2010,” Bruce Erickson, Purdue’s director of cropping systems management and a crop guide contributor, said. “Soybean production costs will be up around 6 percent, and for winter wheat we’re estimating that costs will be 13 percent higher. If you grow continuous corn, you can expect to spend about 14 percent more next year.”

Farmer’s are essential to America’s economy and growth. They provide our food, and they supply thousands of workers all around the country with jobs. They were the base for our country for a long time and without them America would not survive.

This price increase per acre will be effecting farmers all across the nation, and even a few Penn Manor students who plant their own crops and vegetables.

Tyler Bauman and Alex Cantey of Penn Manor both plant crops for an SAE project in the FFA and for their profit.

“We have a business for selling crops together such as watermelon, tomatoes, cantalope, beans, strawberries and over 15 other various crops,” Cantey said.

Bauman and Cantey sell their crops at a vegetable stand by Central Manor Mart on Rt. 999. They also sell their vegetables to a Leola auction where they make money. Their business has been going for a year, and has gained them a profit of $15,000 during last year.

“Between sprays, seeds, chemicals and plants, it costs about $5000 for everything during the season,” Bauman said. “We plan to make anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 this year in profit.”

The duo of farmer’s aren’t going to be feeling the pain of rising prices this year though.

“The prices won’t really effect us because we don’t plant corn or soybeans,” said Cantey.

A Lancaster County Cornfield. Photo from

“We do plant sweet corn though,” Cantey said. “With sweet corn we plant the plots one week apart so it all doesn’t come in at one day. This helps with harvesting and also lets us sell sweet corn longer.”

Another student farmer at Penn Manor is graduating senior Kaleb Long, who will be effected with his small business by the rising prices.

“The prices for feed for my animals have increased dramatically,” Long said, “The feed has already gone up $100 a ton, and it will continue to rise.”

“With all the severe weather, corn that should already be a few inches tall hasn’t even been planted yet,” said Long.

Long has a business of breeding swine or pigs. He has had his business for four years, and continues to keep his business on growing. Long has a plan though to keep his business from going under by the prices rising.

“As the prices rise for corn and feed, I will just continue to raise my prices of pigs,” Long said, “I want to keep my business growing.”

These students have been working for the past few years on their projects for the FFA to gain essential skills as farmers as well as a profit in cash. These skills will be helping them with their future goals as farmers. The skills and knowledge the students get from raising animals, planting, growing,  harvesting and selling their own crops will be a great help in their career.

“We plan to make this our future and career,” Cantey said. “We want to buy or lease more land and expand our business so it grows.”

These businessmen are the future for agriculture in our area and the future for our local produce market. Without these students there wouldn’t be any more local crops and roadside stands. Even though the prices for raising produce and crops might be rising, they continue to grow and sell us crops.

These FFA students are the future for Lancaster’s local produce businesses, and they will continue to make Lancaster proud of its home grown products and animals.

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