Farmers Warned on Y2K Problem : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

-- Linkmeister (, October 14, 1999


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Thursday October 14, 1:20 am Eastern Time

Farmers Warned on Y2K Problems


Associated Press Writer

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) -- Bill Haag is getting a new computer system at his grain elevator, but ask him about Y2K and his answer is short.

A lot of hype, he says.

``I think they just blow it out worse than it is,'' Haag said. He doesn't think any of his equipment will be affected.

Researchers are not as confident. Those who have studied how the millennium bug could affect farm equipment are urging pork, dairy and grain operations to make contingency plans. And last-minute workshops in the Upper Midwest are planned to spread the word about how to prepare for equipment problems in case the bug bites worse than expected.

Charlotte Meier, executive director of the North Dakota Pork Producers, said she has received no calls about Y2K worries from the state's 750 pork operations.

``At this point, I would say there isn't that much concern,'' she said. ``I think if they know the electricity is going to be running that's all they're concerned about.''

Mike Adelaine, an extension specialist from South Dakota State University, thinks farmers should be concerned about more than that. He has put together an Internet list of Y2K-compliant software commonly used in farm operations and is planning a workshop in November for those who get a late start on preparations.

``Basically, what we're going to do is say: `Hey, folks, be aware of this issue, make some contingency plans and let's see if we can get you through this time period,''' Adelaine said.

Y2K problems could arise from malfunctions in computers that read only the last two digits in a year and mistake 2000 as 1900.

In particular, owners of pork, poultry and dairy operations are being urged to make sure their climate-control devices will not collapse suddenly on New Year's Day.

Producers with livestock feeding or milking systems are encouraged to contact manufacturers to find out how they might be affected. The same goes for producers with any kind of environmental control mechanisms in barns or confined feeding operations.

Producers also should prepare to do farm work manually if automated machinery doesn't work, said Wayne Hansen, who has studied the issue for the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Electronic scales, moisture testers, grain drying equipment and crop storage ventilation systems used in grain elevators could be affected, he said.

The Y2K bug also could hamper farmers and ranchers who use computers to keep their books.

``We are seeing the medium-size smaller operations that do have the older machines that would need to get up to speed,'' Adelaine said.

Hansen said earlier workshops on Y2K have not drawn many farmers.

``We don't know if it's because they don't think it's a problem or if it's because they feel like they've fixed everything already,'' he said.

He does not believe Y2K will cause the devastating problems, but said there's reason to prepare.

``There will be some problems,'' he said. ``We know that for a fact. It's just a matter of how severe they are.''


The Internet site for making Y2K contingency plans on the farm can be found at


-- Linkmeister (, October 14, 1999.

We (I'm on the township emergency preparedness committee) put an entire packet together and hand-delivered it to the farmers in our township. Mostly big farmers, farming from 100-3000 acres, including grain, hogs, vegetables, strawberries, etc. The guy with the smallest farm had a combine with the GPS system in it, and was thrilled to get the packet, as it contained numbers for farmers to call for specific info on farm-related Y2K problems. The two biggest farm-owners (over 2500 acres) just yawned. Thankfully, the winter wheat has been planted right next to our house, so we can make a deal with the farmer next summer. Otherwise, I fear that large farmers' geese are cooked.

-- Ann M. (, October 14, 1999.

Do you blame the farmer for thinking this way. My local news paper ran a happy crap nothing is going to happen article in the Sunday paper. Same ole sh*t in, same ole sh*t out.

-- y2k dave (, October 14, 1999.

Hay I am a small farmer and I have been giving it some thought. Things can go bad in just hours for some operations. Take the egg producers, they are automated all the way. If the power goes off call Kernel Sanders for they are dead meat. Hand labor, ok you have to get up early to get hundred thousand + chickens feed one at a time. Let see if I can feed maybe sixty chickens a minute that's 3600 per hour. 100,000/3600 = 28 people 24 hours a day. Forget it the air conditioning has gone off and the watering system is gone. They might make it a day or two. If they have a good backup power system they go for a while but where is the tuck that picks up the eggs to take them to market.

Same with the dairies. With the size of dairies we have now hand labor is not possible. You can not even get the feed out of the silos to feed the cows. It use to be that the farmer milk maybe 10 cows by hand 15 if he was a big farmer and had some help. Put the milk in a can and cooled it in a stream or water trough till the truck came to pick it up to take to the proceeding plant in town. Now the dairys are hundreds to thousands of cows and cool the milk in big tanks. The coolers can only hold one or two day of milk at the most.

If the dairyman has a backup power system he can keep going on as normal, But the processing plan is down and have no storage room so the milk has to be dumped any way. If the cows are not milked daily they will dry up (stop producing milk) and it will take at least nine months or their next calf before they come back into production.

We might make it if it is only a three day storm. But if there is no fuel we could lose one years production on our farms and all the over production we see now will mean nothing. It is a funny thought but if things went bad I don't think a farmer nowadays could even feed himself.

-- Lyle (, October 14, 1999.

I have spent that past year in frustration trying to convince more than a handful of farmers and ranchers to, at least, look into the compliance of their equipment with embedded systems, store fuel and stockpile fertilizer, pesticide and seed.

I gave up on ag leadership in California on the y2k issue long ago. The leadership I work with feel y2k is either a hoax or that their operation is immune. To be fair, there is so much immediate crisis that ag leadership is trying to deal with right now, y2k seems far and away in the distance.

I have also spent much of the year putting in a greenhouse, fencing, building soil and establishing a laying flock. Personally, I think we are going to have some problems.

-- marsh (, October 14, 1999.

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