Farming Expensive but rewarding
Having been in farming for about 40 years, Jeff Borger, of Borger Farms in Kunkletown, knows a thing or two about the business and has a few insights for any budding farmer to consider.
First, equipment is expensive. Borger said he bought his first tractor for $1,200. Since then, tractors have gotten nicer and pricier.
“If my grandfather knew what I pay for some of these tractors out here, he would never believe it,” he said. “This last tractor I bought was over $155,000. I got one more payment on it, and it’s mine.”
Of course, it is state of the art. Both of his new tractors include GPS and auto steer.
“You don’t have to touch the steering wheel from one end of the field to the other end,” he said.
Although fun, the technology was designed for farms, mainly in the Midwest, where farmers plant thousands of acres of ground.
Borger also owns two balers at $100,000 each, mower, hay rake, hay kicker and a combine.
“I took inventory of what I had in the hay field the other day, it was close to a half a million dollars of equipment, just to make hay,” he said. “And then you go and try to sell the hay and nobody realizes what you’ve got into it, equipment wise, let alone the labor to do it.”
Borger said getting a good price for any of his crops is a struggle.
“Any other job you go to, you know what you’ve got when you work that day,” he said. “You go as a farmer and you do your thing and people come and tell you what they’re going to give you for it. You can’t ask for what you want, and that’s not right.”
Farmers deal with brokers who purchase the grains from them and then sell the grains to food producers, other industries, and even other countries. The lack of a dependable income causes most farmers to have a couple other jobs for income, he said.
Then there are taxes, which can be a sore spot for just about anyone. For farmers, property taxes can be a “double-edged sword.”
“If you’re a farmer, you need to have land to farm. If you buy it, you can’t keep up with the taxes. If you rent it, well, those people have got to pay the taxes, so they look for more in rent,” he said. “There’s a bottom line of what you can pay for the land to own it or to rent it. You’ve got to be able to make your payments.”
The hardest part about farming, though, is finding good help.
“There’s a lot of things you just can’t do yourself,” he said. “It is very difficult to get reliable help.”
Borger said he loved working on a farm when he was a kid. It was from that experience that he knew he wanted his own farm some day. But now, he said it’s hard to find people with an interest in farming.
“You can pay them the best money you can think of, and they don’t want to do it,” he said.
Still farming is the only thing he really wants to do.
“It’s rewarding in the end,” he said.