1988 - Volume #12, Issue #1, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Globetrotting Dane Farms In Montana And DenmarkIt's a good thing for farmers to diversify. Some do it by sector ù they vary their crops and livestock, or put money into the stock market or a non-agricultural business.
Klaus Jonsson, a globetrotting Dane, does it geographically.
Jonsson finished harvesting a record crop of sugar beets on his Montana farm near Savage in Mid-October. Soon after, he flew 4,700 miles farther east to Copenhagen, Denmark and then drove 60 miles south to his other 600 acre farm.
Jonsson, 39, began farming in Montana in the early 1970's and married the daughter of a Savage-area farmer. He did well in the 1970's. His main farm in Montana has grown to 3,200 acres, and he now rents the farm of his father-in-law who is retired.
Jonsson's wife, Char, said that after establishing the Montana farm, her husband wanted to restore some ties with his home-land.
The farm in Denmark has certainly accomplished that wish. The Jonssons travel with their two school-aged children to Denmark each November, and return to Montana in April.
At his Danish farm, Jonsson has a manager with whom he communicates by telephone several times each week, and he usually visits his Danish farm during the summer.
Jonsson says it is difficult to compare profits of farming in Montana with profits in Denmark, pointing out that the government role in supporting farm income is quite different in Europe from what it is in the U.S,
Jonsson knows precisely how profitable his crops are on both farms. In Denmark, his best profit margins have been from peas, and the next best from grass seed (bluegrass and white clover) sales. Sugar beets are next.
"And in this country, due to the poor wheat prices, sugar beets are absolutely, without a doubt, number one ù that is where we make the most money," Jonsson said.
His U.S. beet crop is contracted with Holly Sugar according to acres. In Den-mark, the contract is by tons of sugar. If he produces an excess, a limited amount is accepted at a discount price called a "B" rate, and the remainder must be sold at a "C" rate which is the world export price and far below the costs of production.
Jonsson sees the U.S. government sugar program as effective and efficient. In general, the subsidies to farmers have been modest and occasional, and the government costs are paid out of tariffs on imported sugar, he notes.
(Reprinted from Agweek)
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