Play debates future of valuable farmland

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(Photo courtesy of Brian DeVore/Land Stewardship Project)

Listen to the farmer talk.

“This land is our retirement package. This is all we got. For some people it seems things are pretty clear. My neighbor Harlan sold to the Thompson brothers, they’re big corn and bean guys. Five thousand dollars an acre he got. 300 acres. Well, you can do the math. He and Doreen are set. Instant millionaires.”

With land prices at record levels, many farmers are debating whether to sell. But there’s more than just money involved in the decision. They must decide if they’re ready to leave a business they’ve probably spent a lifetime in. Another consideration: do they sell to the highest bidder or to someone who farms like they do?

That’s the dilemma facing Gerald , the fictional farmer speaking above. He and his wife Nettie are the key figures in a play making the rural circuit this winter. “Look Who’s Knockin'” is put on by the Land Stewardship Project. The next performance is scheduled for January 22 at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

The twist in the play is that Gerald and Nettie have based their farm operation on proven conservation practices. They use grassy strips to catch runoff and prevent erosion for example. So, with a million plus dollars calling; do they sell to a neighbor who will probably tear up the grass and conservation measures? Or do they sell at a cheaper price, or even rent the place, to a young couple who want to keep the farm as it is, but can’t afford to pay top dollar land prices?

Besides Marshall, upcoming performances are also scheduled in Litchfield, Clinton, Milan and Glenwood.

You can hear an audio excerpt of the play on the LSP podcast.

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