Peter Groves' (b. 1958) family has been farming in the Kickapoo River Valley area since 1854 when Jonas Groves and his brother walked from Ohio and staked a claim near Viroqua, back before the Homestead Act when all you needed to do to get some land was stake a claim and live on it for two years. The farm is 640 acres and Peter rents an additional 350 acres on which he runs just under two hundred head of background beef cattle and grows some corn and, although he would like to expand, he just doesn't have the land available to pasture more cattle and the price of farm land has pretty much ensured that he never will. In the past his family had a subsistence farm, even raised some tobacco, but that was when there were big multi-generational families and full time hired hands. Peter says the margins are too thin now and a farm has to specialize in one thing; the cost of operating is so high that the farm needs the cash turnover. He describes raising beef as a three step process and his farm is the second step. A beef steer is raised on one farm (his cattle are coming out of Montana), sold to his farm where he puts them in the feedlot and then pastures them in the summer and sells them to a finishing lot in November and it's in the finishing lots that the cattle are fattened and sold to a slaughter house. His operation is one of the few smaller operations left in Vernon County. Many of the farms have been bought up by realtors and sectioned out into five and ten acre lots to put summer houses on. As far as Peter is concerned it's just destroyed farming in the area and he predicts that farmers will be run out by people with summer homes that don't want fences or the smell of manure. On the other hand, he says he could be wrong and marijuana could be legalized which would be a great cash crop for the area, a replacement for tobacco which is no longer lucrative to produce. Comments - Peter is very good at seeing the big picture as well as understanding the motivations of each side of an argument.
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