Bethel Feed & Farm, LLC, located off North Carolina Highway 24/27 in Midland, North Carolina, has been owned and operated by the Eaves family since 1957. Anson Eaves, the current owner/operator of the feed mill, is the third generation of the Eaves family to be involved in this business. The mill produces and sells livestock feeds, fertilizer, and crop seeds.
Anson Eugene Eaves (Owner/Operator, Bethel Feed & Farm, LLC) was born on May 9, 1970, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He grew up helping his grandfather (Gordon Eaves), father (Gene Eaves), and uncle (Jimmy Eaves) at the mill, which was previously known as Bethel Milling Company. Anson is the sole full-time employee of Bethel Feed & Farm, which he has owned and operated since 2011. Anson’s family has been involved in the local farming community for several generations. He earned B.A. degrees in history and political science, with a minor in biology, from Warren Wilson College, in Swannanoa, North Carolina.
|0:00:37||Anson Eaves (“Anson”) introduces himself and describes the daily operations of Bethel Feed & Farm (“BF&F”)|
|0:01:35||The process of feed milling, including the sourcing of raw grains and ingredients from local farmers and customized feed mixing for different animals and customers|
|0:04:45||The different animal feeds produced by BF&F|
|0:05:50||The different grains BF&F uses and the network of local farmers Anson has developed to produce the grains used|
|0:08:20||The ingredients and mixing process for sweet feed|
|0:09:20||Other types of feed, including their ingredients and distinguishing characteristics|
|0:10:30||How the use of animal proteins in feeds led to the spread of mad cow disease, prompting implementation of additional regulatory measures for feed mills|
|0:11:08||BF&F’s customer base, primarily horse training and boarding barns and “backyard” hobbyists raising goats and chickens|
|0:12:00||The local rise of goats as cash crops|
|0:12:50||The differences between small-scale feed mills and the larger institutional operations that service Perdue and Tyson contract farmers|
|0:14:30||Anson discusses his role as advisor for local farmers like Connor Newman and Kim Schoch of Hodges Family Farms (also participants in this oral history project) in their experimentation with different crops and fertilizers|
|0:16:17||Differences between large-scale “row cropper” farmers, hobbyists, and people that just “keep” livestock, including the different services, products, and markets BF&F provides for them|
|0:18:15||Changes in farming and feed milling since the 1950s|
|0:20:40||The history of BF&F, including the first two generations of owner/operators: Gordon Eaves (Anson’s grandfather) and Gene and Jimmy Eaves (Anson’s father and uncle, respectively)|
|0:23:38||The development of customized feeds based on trial-and-error experimentation and customer feedback|
|0:25:15||General rules and philosophies for creating feeds to maximize livestock potential|
|0:26:38||Teaching and mentoring agricultural hobbyists, especially those getting inaccurate or inapplicable information from the Internet|
|0:27:48||Anson describes growing up and getting involved with the mill, and his relationships with his customers and suppliers|
|0:30:30||The mill as a social center for the local community, including as a gathering place for local farmers; interesting story about the mill being a place for women to find eligible mates|
|0:32:54||Historical changes in BF&F and the overall milling industry, including the impact of increased regulatory environment and the transition from state to federal regulation due to the Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”)|
|0:36:38||Issues with the FSMA, including cost/resources required for compliance, inspections and audits, and potential adverse impacts on the continued viability of small farms and feed mill operators|
|0:44:23||Discussion of the impact and cost of the organic farming, farm-to-fork, and non-GMO (generically modified organism) movements on BF&F and the feed milling industry|
|0:50:55||Discussion of milling processes and equipment|
|0:53:20||Maintenance of aging milling equipment|
|0:55:00||Ongoing challenges facing continued operations of BF&F|
|0:55:55||A typical day at BF&F|
|0:59:30||Historical changes in agriculture in Cabarrus County, including as to the size of operations and the role of farming in local family lives|
|1:02:42||The health and evolution of farming and the food shed in the local community; issues and questions to be resolved going forward; future farming opportunities for the region|
|1:09:00||The milling of grains for human consumption|
|1:10:35||Misperceptions and pre-conceived notions concerning milling and farming|
|1:13:41||Concerns about the ongoing status and availability of land for agriculture|
>> Tommy Warlick: All right, so this is Tommy Warlick, I am with the UNC Charlotte History Department and I am working on the Queens Garden Oral History Project, oral history to the Piedmont Food Shed. It is March 28, 2019, about 1:00 PM in the afternoon, and I am sitting here with Anson A-N-S-O-N Eaves, E-A-V-E-S with the Bethel Milling Company in Midland, North Carolina.
Anson, thank you so much for your time, we really appreciate you sitting down with us today.
>> Anson Eaves: All right, glad to be here, Tommy.
>> Tommy Warlick: If you don’t mind, can I get you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background?
>> Anson Eaves: Okay, I’m Anson Eaves, I run, now it’s changed from Bethel Milling to Bethel Feed Farm.
Bethel Milling was the company that my parents, my dad and uncle ran, my grandfather. When I came in, accounting-wise, it was easier for me to start out as Bethel Feed & Farm. What we tend to do here is, I buy grain, I buy grain from local farmers, turn it into livestock feed, horses, cows, lots of chicken feed, some swine feed.
I also move quite a bit of lawn seed fertilizers, some dog feed, some other things.
>> Tommy Warlick: So Anson, I don’t think a lot of people who are gonna be listening to this really understand what a milling company is and what feed milling is. Can you give us a background of what that entails?
>> Anson Eaves: Sure, farmers bring in grain, I buy the grain straight off the trucks, I end up buying it by the bushel. So I would make a contract with a farmer and basically it’s a handshake contract that I’m interested in 10,000 bushels of oats from them. We would agree upon a price, I’d say $4 a bushel, they would bring the grain in here.
I store it in bins and then I pull from it, run the grain through elevators into the mill, I process it with, I’m using a roller mill now. Then I would mix the oats with various other grains, corn barley, running it through basically big blenders. Then the final process of making the horse feed part would be that I add molasses to it, tumble it all together with molasses.
Bag it up in 50 pound bags and distribute it to individual horse barns and such. The same thing works with chicken feed, the process is basically the same, except the ingredients in the chicken feed will be different. Instead of using oats, and barley you use more corn, and wheat, and milo for something like chicken feed, the same thing goes for hog feed.
There’s also some speciality feeds such as some sheep feed, some calf feed, which I would end up making a higher protein. But I end up buying, especially something like oats, oats are a seasonal crop, farmers don’t tend to store those year round. So whatever oats I need to buy for the year, I basically end up buying in the months of July and August, on oats.
Farmers are more likely to be able to have storage on the farm for corn or wheat. So the corn is more readily accessible to me 12 months out of the year. I still end up filing bins up but I don’t have to buy a year’s supply one time on the like oats and barley.
I basically have to buy everything I need for the year when it’s available because otherwise I would end up going through brokers, not so much the local farmers. The main crops you see grown in Cabarrus County, Stanly, Mecklenburg County, you see a lot of corn, you see wheat, you see soybeans, and you see cotton.
The reason that those crops are so prevalent is because there is a steady year round market for them. There are other crops like the oats and barley that I need that’s not really a year round market. They can’t move them, there’s a limited market so there’s a limited supply then, so I have to move quickly to secure that stuff.
>> Tommy Warlick: All right, so it sounds like from that description, you’re pretty much making food for all kinds of livestock.
>> Anson Eaves: I do, I do. The largest market I have are horses and horse barns but I have more customers feeding things like chickens and goats than horses. However, one barn may be feeding 60 to 70 horses, that’s a ton, a ton and a half of horse feed that goes to one customer a week.
Where 50 to 100 pounds of chicken feed lasts the average backyard guy for the week. So you could move more bulk in horse feed to the same amount of people.
>> Tommy Warlick: I’m gonna pause this for just one quick second.
>> Anson Eaves: Sure.
>> Tommy Warlick: Okay so we’re back on, I apologize for that, Anson, my batteries were dying quicker than I thought they were.
>> Anson Eaves: Sure.
>> Tommy Warlick: You mentioned a whole lot of different types of wheat and barely and the whole nine yards that you use, like corn, what do you use most often?
>> Anson Eaves: Corn and oats are the largest two things that I buy. Barley and wheat I basically just use in chicken feed and so it’s very limited, where I might go through a couple hundred bushels of barley or wheat or milo during the course of the year.
Several thousand bushels of barley, but wheat and barlow will be in the couple hundred of bushels. Oats and corn, we’re dealing with 15 to 20,000 bushels each for those products.
>> Tommy Warlick: And are all that bought locally or do you bring any in from outside here?
>> Anson Eaves: Most of the grain I do is grown within 20-30 miles of here.
Occasionally, if they’ve had a bad crop, I have to go farther. I have access to some brokers that I can deal with going to South Carolina, the upper part of Georgia, especially on oats. There’s plenty of corn grown locally for my use, but once again, the oats become a scarce product.
A lot of the people would not be even growing oats if I was not their market for it. They know that they can sell me oats, therefore they’re willing to grow oats. Corn has a very established price, it’s traded, you can find the price of corn anyday, anywhere in the state.
On oats, I suppose I end up working closer with the farmers, we do a handshake agreement on pricing. And it has to be a situation that I can make money on but they also have to make money on. If at times you could buy oats much cheaper than what I pay but if I chose to do that then nobody would grow oats the next year for me.
And so I could save a couple dollars one year, but then the next year, it would mean that I was having to transport oats out of South Carolina or something like that. And it would end up costing me in the long run.
>> Tommy Warlick: So when you make an individual feed for a particular animal or whatever, what are your ingredients?
Are you using just one grain? Are you adding some nutrients to that?
>> Anson Eaves: Most of the time, say on a horse feed, on a typical sweet feed, it is basically two parts oats, two parts corn, not quite one part barley. I’m adding salt and a mineral mixture. I’m also blending molasses.
I buy molasses by the tractor trailer load. I buy tanker loads of molasses in here. The molasses actually usually ship out of Baltimore, Maryland. The molasses makes the feed more palatable. It shines the feed up, but it also makes the horses, cows, whatever, they gravitate towards it more.
>> Tommy Warlick: And you mentioned sweet feed, is the molasses sweet feed?
>> Anson Eaves: Sweet feed is what qualifies it. Molasses is what qualifies it as sweet feed.
>> Tommy Warlick: So what other kinds of feeds are there? I’m not familiar with that.
>> Anson Eaves: There’s scratch grains, scratch grains are just kind of a mixed grain, which will be a cracked corn, wheat, and milo.
It’s a very basic chicken food, very basic kinda maintenance chicken feed. There’s laying pellets and crumbles, which become a higher-protein feed, which encourage the laying of eggs in chickens. Hog feed is also a higher protein feed. Some whole feeds, and I do not do this now, years ago, my dad, uncle, grandfather made their own supplement to make hog feed where they would grind corn, they would grind wheat, milo.
The supplement was made out of alfalfa meal, bone meal, or a blood meal, really. Hogs need the animal protein. If you have hogs shut up, and they don’t have a certain type of protein, they tend to do things like tail biting and ear biting. They’re looking for the blood off the other pigs to supplement the protein.
When we had problems with the Mad Cow Disease 15, 20 years ago, the regulations became different on using animal proteins, so we ended up stopping. We don’t use any animal proteins at all anymore. The regulations became different and kind of became prohibitive as to doing that. So while I do sell some hog feed, I sell some pre-packaged hog feed and I sell some just straight dry grain mixtures for hogs.
>> Tommy Warlick: So who are your customers?
>> Anson Eaves: Most of my customers, the largest customers I have are training and boarding type horse barns. They bring horses in, they board horses for other people, they train horses. Some barns where they have lessons, and each of these barns can have between 20 to 60 some horses there.
As far as the chicken feed, most of the customers that I’m dealing with are people that have chickens in their backyard. They’re keeping a flock of a dozen to 50 chickens. They enjoy having the chickens there. It’s a hobby, maybe a self-supporting hobby. Sometimes they do sell eggs.
But there seems to be a lot of people with chickens around. I also deal with people raising goats. Goats have turned into a new cash crop around here. There’s a legitimate market for goat meat, for goats on the hoof. There’s a sale in Monroe now every other week that does nothing but sell goats.
The Hispanic population, the Middle Eastern population has really caused a boom in the goat market. Goats have gone from a $35 animal that was just basically a pet, a hobby, into an actual money making crop now. You can run through the sale at Monroe now and bring easily $4 a pound on the hoof.
People will raise them if they can make money out of it. I see a lot of, especially the out the door customers, it is people with a few animals behind their house. Whether it’s chickens, goats, one or two pigs, the people raising chickens on a large-scale production are usually doing it for a big grower such as Tyson or Perdue.
Something like that. Those companies supply their own scientific ration to the farmers raising the chickens for them. They’re not going to come here. They don’t come here and buy the feed. The feed is delivered to them through much larger milling operations that are run by the chicken company, by Cuddy, by Tyson, by Perdue.
So I end up seeing a lot of hobby farmers. Yes, some of them do make money at it, but they do it more for enjoyment, more for the pleasure put of it, than actual income raised. Now, the biggest horse customers I have are professionals. That is their source of income is running large-scale barns.
I also deal with a lot of people with two horses in their backyard, but they’re not in it for the money. They just enjoy the horses.
>> Tommy Warlick: I met with Connor Newman and Kim Hodges at Hodges Family Farm a couple of weeks ago. And they were going on and on about what a valuable go-to resource you are and how helpful you’ve been to them over the years.
How do you interact with the local farming community? What’s your role and what do you do with local folks?
>> Anson Eaves: Well with Conner and Kim, it’s been different. I’ve watched them trying to hold on to the family farm, which is really inside the Charlotte city limits. They have a rare bird.
From their interviews, I’m sure you understand it was a dairy farm. They’re trying to figure out a way to make the farm pay. They’re trying to figure out a way to keep from selling the farm. Through that, what I have been able to do for them, or what I have tried to do for them is as they’ve been going through the trial phases, Connor or Kim will call me for some advice about raising livestock, for some advice about fertilizers for cover crops.
I’ve been able to bring them in some specialty seeds for cover crops, such as some vetches, such as some yellow clover. Connor became interested in bees, I was able to find him some bursa clover. As they’ve been trying to figure it out with the experimentation that they’ve been doing, I hope I’ve been able to help them.
We’ve worked together to figure out what kind of fertilizers work best for what crops, what kind of cover crops work best for their. Specific needs. It’s been fun to be able to work with them, lots of questions, lot’s of questions and it’s been fun for me, too, because even when I haven’t known the answers, it’s helped me to take the time to go look for the answers for that.
A lot of other farmers, as far as the people farming, when I say farmers, I typically use the word farmer to mean road croppers. That means somebody farming on a semi-large scale, it means somebody farming the corn, beans, cotton type situation. When I say, we’ve always kept cows.
We’ve always had cows. We never described ourselves as farmers. That was never a word we used, even though there’s tractors there. Even though there’s land and production. The cow, we just kept cows, we did, there was no identification as a farmer, the farmer, the word farmer was used to refer to basically row cropping with large type tractors and.
What I end up doing for, what I feel like I do for them is supply a market for certain products. Corn is movable anywhere, there’s a dozen places within 100 miles of here that will buy corn at the drop of a hat or buying corn every day. I do give the farmers a chance to, as applies a chance to move barley.
Barley becomes something this hard to move. I have made arrangement with farmers to grow barley, otherwise, they wouldn’t have a market for it. Also, in the last couple of years, I’ve become an outlook for some other straw. The straw becomes the byproducts of wheat or barley crop. I can offer them a retail outlet for that, I can pick up, some of the farmers at want grow small fields and Milo is a place to move it.
We don’t, when the mill was started in the 50’s, the farming was different. The mill was different. In the 50’s, the farmers typically were much, they ended up farming much smaller tracts of land. And everybody had a public job. 90% of the people had a public job. They farmed after they got off work.
They had 30 cows or they had 20 couple acres of corn plant to feed their own livestock. Well, at that point in time, the farms weren’t big enough to justify storage to justify their own storage or their own milling equipment or something. So, we ended up, granddaddy, this is way before my time.
Granddaddy stored grain for farmers. As they harvested their 20 acres of corn or their 40 acres of corn, they brought it here. We stored it in the bins that were here. Then through the course of the year, as they got ready, as they needed a ton of cow feed, we pulled out their savings account here, it was, you kept a record of how much corn they brought in.
You kept the record of how much corn they had taken out, at that time, and then you added whatever other grains you needed to add to make an appropriate ration.
>> Anson Eaves: And you ground and process the feed for them. So you made your money by actually processing their own grain.
Today, I buy the grain, all the grain I’m running is grain that’s already purchased. It’s not owned by the farmer at that point, it becomes and that’s a big change over the years. Now the farmers that are row cropping, they are big enough. They have their own storage.
They have their own on-farm storage. Some of them have their own on-farm processing facilities, where they are able to grind their own dairy feed, they’re able to grind their own hog feed, and that’s a major change. So, even though there’s probably fewer people participating in it, the tracts of land and the money involved in it are exponentially bigger than they were 60 years ago.
>> Tommy Warlick: So, you mentioned your grandfather started Baffle.
>> Anson Eaves: He actually did not start it.
>> Tommy Warlick: Okay.
>> Anson Eaves: Two other brothers started it. Granddaddy bought one of them out really before the mill was opened. Another man bought the other brother out and then granddaddy bought him out. So he became the sole owner probably in the late ’50’s early ’60’s.
>> Tommy Warlick: So the mill started early ’50s?
>> Anson Eaves: In ’57.
>> Tommy Warlick: ’57-
>> Anson Eaves: ’57 is when it was put up.
>> Tommy Warlick: And your grandfather’s name was?
>> Anson Eaves: Gordon Eaves.
>> Tommy Warlick: Gordon Eaves, okay, and so Gordon’s two brothers were the first-
>> Anson Eaves: No, not his brothers, just two local guys.
>> Tommy Warlick: Two local guys, okay-
>> Anson Eaves: Yes, and the mill is actually, this was actually family land a very long time ago. But when my grandfather’s parents passed, the brothers and sisters and granddaddy sold the land off. And then over the years, we’ve bought certain tracks of it back.
>> Tommy Warlick: How did your grandfather learn about milling and doing this type of an operation.
>> Anson Eaves: Granddaddy was a salesman. Granddaddy enjoyed, Granddaddy enjoyed selling as much as he enjoyed anything else. He was a good salesman, but that was, I considered that that was probably his favorite part of it and probably also his strength in it.
He enjoyed calling on people, he enjoyed pushing the product that he made. He thrived on that.
>> Tommy Warlick: Was the mill his full time job or was he?
>> Anson Eaves: Yes, it did become his full time job. It was his full time job. My grandmother was a teacher that also supplied them a steady source of income as he was trying.
No matter what decisions he made around here. My dad and uncle, there was going to be food on the table. And it gave him the ability to take some risk to make some moves that he probably would not have been able to do, had it been the family’s only source of income.
>> Tommy Warlick: And I know your dad was in banking for a while.
>> Anson Eaves: Dad was in banking until 1976 or 77 and then he came back to the mill. My uncle, Uncle Jimmy, I think started working back at the mill in 66. I think he had one other job after high school.
They had both grown up here, they lived right across the road from the mill. When school was out, if granddaddy saw them coming home, they got roped into coming over here and working. So both of them stepped away for moments, but both of them came back, and since say 76, both of them have been doing, have been running the mill full-time.
>> Tommy Warlick: Has there been any educational process in trying to learn how to do milling or is it just been trial and error-
>> Anson Eaves: It’s been trial and error experimentation. Once again, even today with myself, I ask customers questions everyday. As what do you want the feed to look like?
What do you need the feed to do? Am I missing something? If we need to increase the protein in this, let me know. Does the horse feed have enough molasses on it for you? So I end up searching for a lot feedback to make the product that these people are looking for.
And certain customers, I value certain customer’s opinions highly. They’re the ones that see it, they’re the ones that see the results of what they’re doing. They know whether I’m doing things right or not. And if they tell me I’m doing things wrong, then I need to make the changes that they’re expressing to me.
>> Tommy Warlick: So it’s almost a custom feed per customer.
>> Anson Eaves: Some of the feed is definitely custom. I do have a lot of customers that request that I will make a thousand pounds of feed for at 16% to 18% protein with, I have half a dozen, 10 customers that I have recipes individually tailored for them.
>> Tommy Warlick: Are there specific rules of farm or important go-bys for you when you’re coming up with a particular feed for what a customer wants for their animal or?
>> Anson Eaves: There are Tommy, there are, I believe, certain things. I believe some of them may be not scientific but they seem like they’ve worked.
Feeding a calf out, feeding a calf out for slaughter, if someone’s got one up in a barn, I believe the best thing you could feed it is straight cracked corn with some salt and maybe some molasses in it. When you go farther than that, if you start adding barley to it.
The corn seems like the, makes yellow fat on cows, and that’s what tastes good. So that but no, I want certain feeds to run certain proteins. The horse feed I make is going to run about 10.5% protein. I’ve found that that’s a very nice number. That that’s a very nice place to be.
That it keeps the horses acting right. Some people believe that they need more protein than that. I think you start causing problems. That’s my personal opinion but everybody has their own.
>> Tommy Warlick: And with this hobby farmers that you work with, do you find yourselves teaching mode or a mentoring mode like you’re doing with the guys over.
>> Anson Eaves: You do, you do find yourself, you do find yourself, okay, I got chickens. I just went and bought 20 chickens. What do they eat? So, people willing to take a chance, well, if you feed the scratch, this is what’s going to happen. If you combine that with laying pellets or laying crumbles, then this is what’s going to happen.
People do come in with questions. Some of them, I try to be nice to everybody. I try to take everybody but you get some people asking some very wrong questions. And the computer has changed that a lot because there are a lot of answers on the computer now that we didn’t have access before.
So, a lot of people can spend 45 minutes Googling how to feed a horse and all of a sudden, they know everything there is to know about a horse. And the information is worth what you paid for it.
>> Tommy Warlick: [LAUGH] All right, I hear you. That’s great. Now, when did you get involved?
>> Anson Eaves: I worked here basically on and off my whole life. If I wasn’t in school at times, even in elementary school, I like to come down here and spend time. And that time, yes, you would sweep the floor but we would play a lot, too. My cousin, Uncle Jimmy’s son Jay and I would play down here.
There was always something interesting going on. There were old men standing around the wood stove that were, mom says this is where I learned to curse. I’m sure I learned some things that I shouldn’t have learned around here, but I enjoy spending time here. But even then, grandaddy, you would sweep the floor or you would go with my dad or uncle to deliver feed.
Even though you couldn’t carry the bags, you could drag them to the back of the truck. So I had my hands in it, I worked here full time for several years after college. It had been probably 10 years since I had worked here full time when my dad and uncle decided to retire.
They decided to retire in 2011 and they offered me the option of coming back in and taking over, and I did. So I’ve been here, it has been my business since 2011. It worked well because I had already established relationships with a lot of the farmers. They knew who I was.
Most of the customers knew who I was. That was definitely an asset. Since then, I’ve had to, we’ve had to figure out if we deal well with with each other, and it’s worked very well. And I can see not only did I continue, was I able to continue relationships with the customers or suppliers, but I have formed new ones also.
And you can see the [SOUND] demographics changing. You can see some of the customers coming in, you can see 20 year olds coming in, looking for, they have got their first chickens or are interested in raising their first cow. That’s, I’m perhaps more tolerant of that then maybe my dad and uncle were.
That they expected someone with a cow to know how to feed a cow. I maybe don’t have the same expectations anymore.
>> Tommy Warlick: So, you mentioned about everybody sort of congregating here. I’ve heard from your sister, Carla, a lot about the mill, this seems to be a real community center here, particularly for the local agricultural and the little farmers and all.
What role would you see the mill playing in the local community?
>> Anson Eaves: There are, even today, a certain number of retired men that come around. That once again, you see there’s always a wood fire. A lot of times, there’s a wood fire, there’s usually a free sun-drop around.
So people have asked me, volunteered, let me bring a couch down here, let me bring my couch down here, let me bring my recliner. No, you can’t have it too comfortable. If you make it too comfortable, it doesn’t work. You don’t need a coffee pot
>> Anson Eaves: I have a lot of work to do here.
You don’t have time to lean against the stove, and you don’t have time to lean against the stove all the time. It becomes a very pleasant experience but there’s also work that has to be done. You do, I can tell you, I can name every player in the 1962 county basketball championship game between Harrisburg and Bethel because I’ve heard that story a lot of times.
I can tell you Bethel’s baseball teams from 60 to 62 and who pitched what game. And that’s, I consider that a great gift. I consider that a lot of fun to be One of the coolest stories, when I came in, shortly after I came in and an older lady pulled up here, and she spoke to me, she was from town and looking for something and she said, are you married?
And yes ma’am, I sure am. I can’t believe your wife let’s you hang around a feed mill. Now, why would that be an issue? She said, doesn’t she know what kind of women come around a feed mill?
>> Tommy Warlick: [LAUGH]
>> Anson Eaves: And it was such a story from, such a story from another time because when she had been a young lady, the feed mill was where you went to go find a man.
It probably doesn’t work that way any more. I can’t say that that was my experience but it’s a story that I filed away.
>> Tommy Warlick: [LAUGH] So other than a dating pool, how has the feed mill changed over time? You say you see your customers change. How are things sort of evolved as you’ve been involved with the business?
>> Anson Eaves: Since I’ve been involved in the business, one of the major changes, and this is one of the major changes is our regulatory agency has traditionally been the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. In 2011, the USDA took over. The Food Safety Act went into effect, so instead of being regulated by a state agency, now it’s changing over into a federal agency.
The regulations are going, I have a new stack of 700 pages of regulations. That is going to be a major change. With the state, I could basically call anyone in the state and get some kind of answers. On this, you can’t. And it’s the old story of small business and big government once again.
You also see that this business is located on a four-lane highway. 20 years ago, it was located on a 2-lane road. That’s changed, what we have coming by is not local traffic now, it’s commuter traffic. And people also tend, I would say people because it’s a female, people don’t necessarily know what a female does.
When they think about buying feed. If they’re thinking about buying chicken feed. If they’re thinking about buying a bag of fertilizer. They tend to look to Lowe’s, to Home Depot, to Walmart, to Tractor Supply, and then to a degree, a place like Southern States. Which are very retail-type outlets.
We’ve always supplied fertilizer to farmers. At times, lots and lots of fertilizer. That’s is the major change in the market now. Even people that are coming in, regular customers, I didn’t know you sold fertilizer. It sounds funny to me to say that because we’ve always moved fertilizer. And traditionally, 40 years ago, this is where everybody would have come to buy fertilizer, that’s no longer the case.
I also see more. I also see more outlets for some products like shelled corn, there’s more farmers selling shelled corn straight off the farm than there were 20 years ago. It becomes a value added product to them. They’re able to sell a bag of corn to someone feeding their chickens or someone baiting deer off the farm, that they make an extra $2 off that same bushel of corn.
It’s hard to begrudge that. But 20 years ago, this was basically one of the only outlets for a product like that. Now there’s a lot more.
>> Tommy Warlick: So, I was gonna ask you about the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act. [LAUGH] And I’m looking over here at this notebook you’ve got.
>> Anson Eaves: That’s it, that whole stack. That whole stack of paper.
>> Tommy Warlick: It looks like it weighs about 10 pounds. So, how is it impacting you? I mean are you in the process of getting up to speed or what does that entail for you?
>> Anson Eaves: That is, the worst part about it is everything in there, basically everything, those whole 700 pages at this point, are all recommendations.
They say the farm guidelines are established but they have not really established farm guideslines. It’s gonna be a matter of they’re gonna come in and look at structures, equipment you’re using, batch samples, a much more stringent regulation. A much more stringent set of regulations. Before, the state would come in.
They would sample feed. They would test for. As I tag feed, the protein is. As I tag, not custom feed, but labeled feed. I’m required to have a label on them with the protein, with the fat content, etc. The state, once a year, will come in and take a sample of that to make sure that I was meeting my labeling requirements.
If something was labeled 9% protein, they wanted to see the 9% protein. The state also tended to check for mycotoxins, which were things like alpha toxin and stuff like that. To make sure that you’re putting a safe product out there. What I see from the federal government and this becomes cynical is the way the regulations read, they don’t believe your intention is to put a safe product.
They want to regulate, they want to regulate the whole manufacturing process.
>> Anson Eaves: Because they don’t believe you’re capable of doing it yourself.
>> Tommy Warlick: So based on what you’ve read so far and what you know so far about these regulations, what’s the additional burden gonna be on you, as far as man hours, expense, all that kind of stuff?
>> Anson Eaves: Last and this was not federal, this was this was still the end of a state thing. But last summer, I ended up having an audit, there’s there’s a tax. There’s a tax on horse feed, it goes to the North Carolina horse count. So I pay, it used to be $5 a ton.
It’s moved to $10 a ton. I keep up with it pay, so basically, from a nickel a bag to a dollar bag. I keep up with that. I keep up with what I pay. I pay the state quarterly. Each ton of horse feed that I send out there.
Last summer, I ended up being audited over the last three years and had to account for every bag of horse feed I had sold for three years. So, I ended up with, I think it was 37 pages of audit that I had to account for the day and the customer that had received these feeds.
So, it took me two days going back through ticket books and calendars. It took my wife an extra day or so at work to compile everything. So, just on something like that, there’s 24 man hours involved in that. This is a one person operation. You don’t have 24 man hours to do these things.
When you become, if you’re the size mill of the Purinas, and Nutrinas, and you have compliance officers in place. And you have everything computerized, then these regulations become much more easy to comply with. If you can pull people off and have a paint job put on everything, to clean everything up, that’s not what I do, that’s not the scale that I’m able to work on.
It is going to become prohibitive, and at this point, I’m still not sure how prohibitive. Since these regulations have come out, I’ve seen two or three, at least three other people that were doing some milling. Especially on some farm, just some farm-side operations but they were selling some feed on the side.
I’ve seen very few people pull their door shut, it does not make sense for them to try to comply with this. They’re gonna be closed down anyway, so they’ve gone ahead and pulled the door shut, and these were just kind of sideline type operations, we’ll see how it applies here.
And it’s still hard to get a firm answer as to exactly what kind of compliance issues I will have but there will be some. And it becomes a matter of how much money am I willing to spend to comply? Does it make sense to continue doing this? If they say, all your elevators have to be replaced because they are not in compliance, it basically doesn’t make sense to continue operations.
if I was going to invest, a certain point, a certain kind of money, it probably would not be in a feed mill. As long as I can run it, as long as I can continue running it, yes, it does work. But if I have to make a 20-year capital investment, then no, it makes no sense to try to continue the operation.
>> Tommy Warlick: Are there any types of exemptions or breaks for smaller operations like yours-
>> Anson Eaves: Yes and no, the smallest operation, there became a two-year exemption, we’re in that window now.
>> Anson Eaves: The maximum sales operation for that was a company doing $2.5 million a year, so that is still out of scale for me.
But at this point they are not showing any exemptions for very, very small operations. They’re dealing with $100 million a year companies, and $20 million a year companies, a $2.5 million a year companies, and that’s who the regulations were written for. There are still other mills this size out there in this scale and the regulations were not written to apply to this kind of scale operation.
If they end up having to apply, then there will be a problem for me.
>> Tommy Warlick: And you said, they, so this is gonna be like USDA?
>> Anson Eaves: This is USDA, at this point, the state is perhaps gonna continue contract work for the USDA. The inspectors that I used to deal with will contract out to the USDA.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture may handle this with the guidance or help of federal inspectors.
>> Tommy Warlick: Okay. So changing gears on you, I know there’s been a lot of talk about organic farming, about farm to fork and all of this type of stuff. I’m sure with regard to animal food products, that’s impacted what your customers are interested in and what they want from you.
What changes have you seen caused by those things?
>> Anson Eaves: One of the biggest things that I can see is I have more customers curious and interested in non-GMO products. People are much more cognizant of what they are feeding their livestock. You do see people, if they want 20 chickens in their backyard, they become their pets.
They have heard the catchphrases, non-GMO, they’ve heard the catch phrases, organic, free range, grass fed, most of them are not. A lot of them, even though they’re aware of the phrase, they’re not necessarily aware of what it means and what it entails.
>> Tommy Warlick: So just for purposes of the folks listening, what does it mean?
>> Anson Eaves: Non GMO means non genetically modified ingredients, so most of the corn grown now, most of the soybeans grown now are maybe classified as Roundup-ready. So they splice the gene into this plant that gives you the ability to use a chemical like Roundup on your fields. That becomes a weed control, so you’re able to plant soybeans.
Glycol phosphate is the actual pesticide or the actual herbicide we’re talking about when I say Roundup. So before if you had non-Roundup-ready beans, if you sprayed Roundup on it, you would have killed the whole field. Now you’re able to spray Roundup, and that helps control weeds such as pigweed, such as cocklebur, such as sicklepod, some of the other noxious weeds that get into your field.
By doing that, it makes your fields clean, it makes your beans cleaner at harvest. The downside of that is a genetically-modified product and I think we’re still trying to see what the repercussions of the genetically modified products are. But people are aware that it is something to pay attention, to to be afraid of.
I have people asking those questions a lot, one of the stories that I tell is, a guy came in here feeding his chickens, I want non GMO feed. My question, why do you want non GMO feed? Because I don’t want my chickens eating GMO. I understand, what’s your issue with GMO products?
He said, there’s a man in Mexico that’s buying all our seed and he’s going to keep us from having food. I said, I don’t understand this, what are you talking about? I’m not going to support that man that’s buying all our seeds, he’s gonna starve us. I said, that man that’s buying all our seeds up?
And I thought a little bit and I said, are you talking about Monsanto?
>> Tommy Warlick: [LAUGH]
>> Anson Eaves: And it was months, so even though he is aware that there’s an issue and it’s something to pay attention to, he didn’t know why he’s paying attention. His logic is, I also see, it’s funny to me.
Sink them with chicken feed. A lady will come in eating a double whopper and smoking a Marlboro light, but she wants non-GMO feed for her chickens. And it becomes a question of where are our lives? But I think it’s a great thing that people are paying more attention to it, are more aware of it, are more cognizant of the possible impacts that are taking place with it.
And there’s no doubt there’s more awareness of that now than there was ten years ago.
>> Tommy Warlick: Has that caused any changes for you though, I mean, are you having to change your recipe?
>> Anson Eaves: To a certain degree, to a certain degree. There’s a lady that I make non-GMO feed for her horses, even though she’s never going to eat the horse, she prefers the feed made with that.
I am lucky in that oats and barley are not typically GMO products. I can leave the corn out, and produce her a feed that she’s satisfied with [SOUND] and that works. You do see it, some of the grains that I am using, like myloaf, wheat, are non-GMO, oats, barley are non-GMO.
The corn, I cannot guarantee it is. I know where it’s produced, I know who produces it, but it probably is a modified product. I can see the difference on the feed that I resell. It’s feed that I buy from a larger mill and resell. They avoid the non-GMO phrase, but locally produced whole grain, they’re using it in their advertising campaigns also.
>> Anson Eaves: And even though in my situation, perhaps there’s a preference for non-GMO products, if they’re not willing to pay the price, if I can’t pay the farmer a premium on it, then I can’t buy the grain. If they’re not willing to pay the price for the finished, a premium for the finished product, then I can’t supply the farmer with a premium.
So the farmer, the row cropper, the guy growing the corn has to make the decision as to where his yield is highest and where his profit margin will be highest.
>> Tommy Warlick: Okay, okay, now you mentioned early on that you’re using a roller mill method.
>> Anson Eaves: Yes.
>> Tommy Warlick: What type of equipment is involved with what you do on a daily basis?
>> Anson Eaves: Here, I’m probably running, I’ve counted before and close to 40 motors. Anywhere from 5 horsepower to 50 horsepower electric motors. All the bins have unloading augers in them, unloading motors. I put the grain in the vent in the bins, either through an auger, which lifts the grain up and drops it into the bin.
It comes out of the bin much the same way. There’s an auger that pulls it out of the bin. I run it from there to an elevator into a crimper, the roller mill, which has two sets of corrugated steel rollers in it which actually crush the grain, either crack the hull on the grain, crush the grain, depending on how I set the rollers, depending on how fine of a finished product I have.
The grain then runs through a cleaner, which screens the grain. It removes the fines, it removes the chaff. Even though the grain’s been cracked, it produces a cleaner grain from there. Then I end up running the grain back into the mill into a mixer. The mixer simply tough makes the various grains together from there into another elevator.
And then I run it through either a blender, which I used to spray molasses on it, or I avoid the blender and then I run it through an automated bagger which weighs out 50 pound bags. And then I either put them on the truck or I bring them out here for sale.
So lots of motors, lots of augers, lots of conveyors, lots of things to get your hands caught in if you’re not careful. The base is grain handling. It just becomes a material handling process. With grain, like a lot of other material handlings is, you lift it up high enough and make it fall where you want it to fall.
That becomes the secret to it, is if you lift it up high enough, you can direct it wherever you want it.
>> Tommy Warlick: And you’re pretty much the only one doing all this?
>> Anson Eaves: Yes, yes.
>> Tommy Warlick: Wow, Anson, that’s a lot to do.
>> Anson Eaves: It becomes a lot, and if everything works smoothly, it’s very manageable.
It’s manageable. When a piece of machinery breaks down, I don’t have a lot of redundancy here. When a piece of machinery breaks down, there’s a lot of bolt turning also. And because the machinery, a lot of it is 1980, 1960 vintage, it breaks down a lot, and there’s really not a lot of people that really want to go climb up a 60-foot elevator and work on it.
So you tend to take on the mechanicing yourself.
>> Tommy Warlick: That’s what I was gonna ask. Are you doing a lot of the repair work yourself?
>> Anson Eaves: Yes, I do 99% of the repair work myself, I carry a lot of wrenches around.
>> Tommy Warlick: [LAUGH] So has there been a lot of technology changes that have impacted how you’re doing what you’re doing, or-
>> Anson Eaves: There have been a lot of technology changes in the milling business, but not at this location. I’m running it very much the same way it was run in 1970. I’m running all the machines, my granddad could come in here and recognize every piece of machinery and tell you what it does.
Now he might not know where the switch was, but he would know what it was supposed to accomplish. Okay, are there any issues or types of problems that are unique to feed milling that are challenges for your that are becoming challenges for you that maybe haven’t been in the past?
>> Tommy Warlick: Once again, the regulations will be the major one. The regulation changes are perhaps one of the major ones. Like I said, you do see a different type competition now. You see a different type competition now. You also see a changing demographic, in that this community is not rural-based anymore.
It’s so people don’t understand exactly what a feed mill is and,
>> Tommy Warlick: Yeah, there become a lot of challenges. Once again, probably the biggest one for me is equipment wearing out, as just entropy takes over, entropy takes over. I’m sorta hesitant to ask this, but is there a typical day around here?
What’s a typical day like? It doesn’t sound like there is one. No, but an example of a day would be I’ll come in 8:00 o’clock cold weather, I’ll build a fire. I’ll hang out with the dog. I’ll drink a Sundrop. Get my eyes, get started. See what is on the desk.
Then I will start making feed. And a lot of times that involves picking up a shovel and moving some grain around in the bin so that you can get to it.
>> Tommy Warlick: Most of the time, usually every day I have at least one customer’s barn that I have to go deliver to, which means putting a couple tons of feed on the truck, driving either 10 miles or 75 miles, getting the feed off the truck.
I’ll come back and start making more feed. In the meantime, as you’re doing these things, you’re also waiting on out-the-door customers. You’re also answering the phone for orders.
>> Tommy Warlick: And so you end up making and delivering a lot of feed. By making the feed means that I’m rolling grain in buggies to the places I need it to process.
Then as the feed’s being bagged I’m picking the bags up and stacking them on pallets to be sold here or rolling them back into the mill until I can get a truck loaded. It’s a lot of physical labor. I’ll pick up 250 pound bags every day of the week.
I will move basically five tons of feed around, and you feel like you wear the bags out sometimes. You handle them, you stack them, you roll them, you pick them back up you put them on a truck, you get them off the truck. But every day you’re moving 50 pound bags over and over and over.
That’s probably a good rule of thumb, if nothing goes wrong, if nothing breaks, if you don’t have to go pick up fertilizer, if you don’t have shipments of grain coming in. And that’s kind of how the days go. You get,
>> Tommy Warlick: When they’re hauling grain you have to do deal with the unloading of the trucks, setting everything up to unload the truck.
You have to deal with the farmer to whatever degree, whether it’s paying him, figuring the payment, and that becomes an added part of the day. That ends up taking another hour or so out of your day. If you’re lucky you have a little bit of time to go walk out to the garden.
If you’re lucky, maybe, no, you really don’t ever get the eat lunch. I’m here, it’s a nine hour day. I really don’t stop for lunch. I drink a Sundrop or something like that and usually keep going, and then at 5:00 o’clock my nanny will drop the kid off here and then I start the second part of the day.
>> Anson Eaves: So let me take a step back, you and your family have been involved in farming, or have at least touched on it for a long time, here in Cabberus County.
>> Tommy Warlick: Right.
>> Anson Eaves: What changes have you seen over that time period?
>> Tommy Warlick: One of the bigger ones that we talked about a little bit earlier is even into the 70s, when I was a kid, so many of the people farmed.
Everybody had larger tracts of land. There were not as many half acre lots. There was no such thing, very few things as a half acre lot. People were farming but they went to work at canning mills. They went to work for the school system. They went to work for the state.
When they got off work, they came home and they had 50 acres of land or 100 acres of land that they tended to. And they might have had a farrowing house with hogs in it as a sideline. They might have had a group of cows as a sideline.
They might have had 40 acres of corn as a sideline, and it supplemented their income.
>> Tommy Warlick: They didn’t treat the farming as their full-time profession. There were some full time farmers, but for the most part farming was what you did after work. And now I believe it’s become more specialized that to, sure people do have jobs and then they have some cows at home.
People do have some chickens at home. But to farm now here, because of the price of equipment, because of the price of land, you have to be invested in it. You have to have a 1,000 acres to row crop, to make row cropping a viable option. Well a 1,000 acres becomes your job.
But to afford a 500,000 combine you better be running it. You can’t have 20 acres of corn and buy a $500,000 combine. You can’t afford that kind of equipment. So I do see people, and even some of the farmers that I consider bigger farmers, especially in our area, are running other businesses or running fairly decent-sized businesses.
And farming is not another, not a supplement to their income, but it is another business entirely that perhaps dovetails in with what their other business is. You see a lot of farmers with grading companies. That’s the typical one. I can name three or four people that run large scale grading operations but farm fairly large scale besides that, but they’re not actually out there running bulldozers anymore.
They’re paying employees to do this. They’re just managing the companies.
>> Anson Eaves: So if you had to take a step back and look at the whole farming area in the greater Charlotte/Piedmont area and all that kind of stuff, where do you think it lands? How do you think the health of the whole food shed and all the agriculture and livestock around here is?
>> Tommy Warlick: Not sure, there will be an answer, but I’m not sure. What I do see is that I see a lot of younger kids,
>> Tommy Warlick: Kim and Connor are great examples, but smaller scale than that. I see some people, okay, well I’ve inherited 25 acres from my grandfather or my parents.
We’ve always had cows here, I’d like to keep cows here. I think that that will continue. I see perhaps more people coming out looking for five acre tracks that they can have a garden on. Moving out of the urban areas because they want some chickens. They’d like to have a couple of chickens, or they’d like to have their own garden.
I think that that’s doing very well. One of the big curiosities I have is over the next ten years what cash crops are going to become available for these people. Once again, coming out here and, even myself, if I wanted to farm, if I wanted to call myself a farmer today, And use the family lands.
I’m going to take over the family land. Usually we’ve had a cow calf operation going, but I’m going to farm it. I don’t believe that I could afford to become a farmer today. Even though I might meet the threshold on available land, I will be blessed by that, but I don’t believe that I would feel comfortable going out and taking on, starting with none of the equipment, I don’t believe I would be able to take that on.
Questions that I answer for a lot of people is, we have family land, what do I do with it, how do I make this pay, how do I make this a viable option to hold onto? You get a lot of questions about, well, what do you think about farming truffles, what do you think about farming pistachios, what do you think about, and they’re all good questions, and I think that the answer lies in those questions is what can pay the taxes on your 20 acres or your 50 acres?
It’s not going to be corn, it’s not going to be soybeans, it’s not gonna be cotton, but is the answer, okay, the answer for everybody is not gonna be goats, but maybe the answer for two people is going to be goats. The other people are gonna have to come up with their own solutions, and it could be strawberries, it could be tomatoes.
I see more farmers markets coming up. I think that’s neat. Once again, that’s not my definition of the traditional definition of farmer, but yeah, you can probably grow five acres of tomatoes and turn a profit on it, if you’re willing to get out there and hoe them.
>> Tommy Warlick: I’m looking for where the next market is, because farming is market driven.
If there is an outlet, people will grow it, if there’s not an outlet, there’s no point in growing it, and I think that becomes one of the big, I’m not sure where it’s gonna be. If you go farm to tables, I see a kid down in Oakborough that five to ten years came in here wanted to get into the hog business, and he was wanting to grow a hog that tasted good, and he’s been relatively successful at it, and he’s marketing.
He has a store front. He’s also marketing a lot online. And it seems like he’s figured out his niche as to how to make this go. There’s gonna be some other niches that show up. I had a kid, super bright kid, that had a proprietary way to grow edible mushrooms.
Was super impressed with what he was doing, he should have been able to make it work, and he had some of it. He had the restaurants in Charlotte willing to, but the market was not enough for him to support that enterprise, and also bad partnerships played into that.
So we’ll see what people come up with, but I do believe a lot of people are asking the same questions. It seems like I’m answering the same questions to a lot of people. It’s not backyard chickens. Backyard chickens are going to be a hobby, and yes, they might be a self-supporting hobby, but I think as people look farther down the line as to what markets are coming, what markets are going to exist, there are going to be some opportunities.
The micro breweries have popped up everywhere in Charlotte. That means there’s a market for hops. That means there’s going to be a market for malted barley. Who’s going to step up to the plate on that? It’s probably not gonna be the guys who had traditionally farmed 1,000 acres of land.
They’re not going to venture into, they’re not gonna get off of their tractors to do that, but there’s some 25-year-old college grads that can take their 20-acre inheritance into a viable operation, and I think that that’s going to be fun. I think that’s gonna be fun to see.
>> Anson Eaves: I didn’t ask you before, but the milling that you’re doing here it’s all self-animal feed, right, there’s no flour, anything like that?
>> Tommy Warlick: No, no, no, no. I have a gristmill over here in the corner. It’s a traditional gristmill, to grind cornmeal at one point. At one point, my grandfather, my dad, and uncle did grind some cornmeal for people.
I wouldn’t be able to do that now, once again, because of health regulations. I’d like to set, this is a mill that didn’t come from here, a man came in here wanting to sell his grandfather’s gristmill from the mountains, I ended up with it because its a neat the piece of history.
I would love to have it set up behind the barn, independent of this operation, and a weekend or two out of the year, yeah it would be great to grind some cornmeal for a buddy or two, just to see it run, to keep it so that my kids can see what it actually looks like to grind cornmeal and eat cornmeal.
>> Anson Eaves: And I know I’ve already gotten your grandfather’s name, your uncle’s Jimmy. What was your father’s name?
>> Tommy Warlick: My dad is Edward, but he goes by Gene. He goes by Gene.
>> Anson Eaves: So I know I’ve taken up a lot of time here. I got two more questions for you then I’ll leave you be.
So you mentioned earlier that there are a lot of misperceptions that people have. They don’t quite understand, not just farming in general, but feed mill, and the whole nine yards. What are some of the big misperceptions that you’ve seen folks have, or just not understand what’s going on?
>> Tommy Warlick: I’ll try not to be cynical about this.
>> Anson Eaves: [LAUGH]
>> Tommy Warlick: This is an easy one because you do get to deal with some, I had a girl come in here, what should I feed my horse? I suggested the sweet feed, she didn’t wanna do that, and I put her horse on straight oats, which makes a very good feed.
For a month she came in here, my horse looks better than it’s ever looked. I can’t believe the changes that have been made. It’s wonderful. I felt good, then she came in here, and she’s like, I shouldn’t be feeding my horse oats. Why not? Well, I saw on the computer that so and so said that wasn’t the right feed.
What do you think, I said, no, no its your horse what do you think? And when I asked her what she thought, she got a very blank look on her face, because she was unable to think for herself. And I tried to, you’re looking at your horse, you know more about your horse than anybody else.
If you think you’re doing the right then you probably are. Don’t worry about somebody in Minnesota in a chat You have to make your own decisions and that becomes a hard one, that becomes a hard one. I see it, I see some things that I disagree with. I disagree with people’s opinions but maybe their opinions are not wrong.
People asking questions about fertilizer, well it’s not, I was told I need a 12-4-8, well do you know why you need a 12-4-8 fertilizer? Well no, but that’s what I want. I can sell you a triple 17 for a third of the price you’re gonna pay. No, no, it’s a 12-4.
And people come in with a lot of ideas that they, people come in with a lot of pre-conceived notions. The easiest ones to deal with are the ones that will listen, the ones that, and not that I’m always right, that’s not the case. I like to learn also.
yBut sometimes the way that Your grandfather did things there was a reason for. Maybe your granddaddy didn’t know what he was doing, you know? And so maybe, maybe let’s let’s look at that. Let’s look at the traditional way of doing it and maybe there was some answers there.
Maybe there’s some improvements we can make, but maybe they’re worse, the answers.
>> Anson Eaves: I’ve jumped around a lot, I’ve gone all over the place. Is there anything that I’ve left out? Is there anything that we should have covered that you think is important that we need to address?
>> Tommy Warlick: I would, no, but to put, the one of my concerns,
>> Anson Eaves: Is this the safety 6450?
>> Tommy Warlick: Yeah, one of my concerns is, not necessarily status of the farm, but this status of land in general, the availability of land. What is going to happen to the land?
Okay, as the big tracks disappear and they are going to disappear and they are disappearing. Even with good intentions, if your grandfather owned 100 acres and it got split between three siblings and then between their three siblings, it’s no longer a big tract.
>> Tommy Warlick: The questions we’re asking about what’s gonna happen to farming really become null and void if there’s no place to do it.
Once again, I have a lot of people that are concerned that are interested that I have access to this or this is a traditional family farm. How am I gonna be able to maintain it? What can I do to keep the taxes paid? The taxes become prohibited as to just owning land.
Land in the 1960s, 1950 became a way to generate wealth. Now land maybe is wealth. Your great grandfather bought land because by adding more land to it, he had more timber to cut, he had room for more cows to graze. He had room for more corn. It was a wealth generator.
Today, money becomes tied up in land. If 100 acre tract’s worth $20,000 an acre, there’s a $2 million investment.
>> Tommy Warlick: Can I afford to have $2 million tied up in this, or do I have to liquidate it? And I really think that the key to all the farming in general is going to be what does happen with the land?
If you don’t have the dirt, you can’t grow it. Even if you want chickens in a garden, if your HOA prohibits it, you can’t have chickens in your back yard. So people are looking for the five acre tracts. I get that but at the same time, it takes more than five acres to raise cows on.
It takes more than five acres to raise corn. I think that that’s probably the biggest question that we don’t have the answer to. If the major tracks of land are there and you can make it viable to grow stuff on it, then it will stay viable. If they become so expensive that it’s prohibitive to grow stuff on, then it’s not gonna be grown there.
>> Anson Eaves: Well Anson, I really appreciate your time, I don’t think I did a good job early on of introducing Highway 34.
>> Tommy Warlick: Right [LAUGH].
>> Anson Eaves: [LAUGH] Being here, and I forgot the dog’s name.
>> Tommy Warlick: Huxley.
>> Anson Eaves: Huxley, so Huxley thanks for having us out today, we appreciate it buddy.
But I really appreciate your time, I really appreciate your insights. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you think-
>> Tommy Warlick: I think we hit most of the high points. I’m sure there’s always more, there’s always more to talk about but I think we hit a lot of the hot ones.
>> Anson Eaves: Sounds good. I’m gonna turn thing off and