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Archive for Friday, August 20, 2010

Farm families

The Metskers and other long-time farm families are an important part of Douglas County’s economy and history.

August 20, 2010

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Maintaining a farm through 150 years and four generations of the same family is no small feat.

When Phillip Metsker and his two brothers arrived in Douglas County in 1858, Lawrence was just four years old. It was three years before Kansas became a state and five years before Quantrill’s Raid on Lawrence.

The brothers completed the purchase of 240 acres of farmland in 1860. In the years since then, the Metsker family has nurtured that land through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Like all farmers, they certainly saw livestock die and crops fail. They saw grain prices go up and then back down. They searched the sky for any sign of rain in one year and bemoaned the mud that wouldn’t let them get into the field to harvest a crop the next.

It’s the life of a farmer. It’s not for everyone, but for some it’s a way of life worth fighting for and taking an off-farm job to support.

Farming isn’t the focus it once was in Douglas County. Over the years, significant plots of farm acreage have been gobbled up by urban development and suburban housing. Larger equipment and new technology made it easier for farmers to handle more acres, so the number of farmers dwindled even faster than the agriculture acreage.

Agriculture barely gets a mention these days when Douglas County talks about economic development, unless people are talking about agricultural tourism, but it’s still an important part of the county’s economy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Douglas County farmers planted about 41,000 acres of soybeans last year and harvested 1.78 million bushels; 28,000 acres of corn yielded 3.9 million bushels. When prices are good (maybe this year!) that can be a significant impact on the local economy.

The uncertainties of weather, markets and other uncontrollable factors only highlight the accomplishment of the Metskers and other long-time farmers in Douglas County. Keeping a farm in the family for 150 years certainly is worth celebrating, which is what the Metskers plan to do at 5 p.m. Saturday on the farm at 623 E. 800 Road. (Call Debbie Douglas-Metsker at 865-7211 if you’d like to attend.)

It’s a good reminder of the important role agriculture has played in Douglas County from the arrival of the first settlers through the farmers who keep that tradition alive today.

Comments

gr 4 years, 4 months ago

There are way too many family farms. They work independently and are hard to control. We must encourage them to go into debt, tax them more, create nearby developments to increase property valuations, generate new laws with carbon taxes on them, particle emission restrictions, complain about noise and smell from their farms, do everything possible to run them out of business. They sacrifice too much to produce too much food. We must encourage them to be like others, to quit sacrificing.

It's a law of supply and demand. Too much food is being produced. Once we run them out, only major corporations will produce the food. They can be controlled. Or owned. Then, we can reduce the supply of the food, make the people more dependent upon food, control what food is available, and we control the people more and more.

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