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  • Dan Bilder

Disappearing Chandler Farms

The few remaining farms are set to disappear from Chandler to make way for residential and commercial construction. This article also highlights why food has gotten so expensive.

Like many towns all over America, Chandler has its roots in farming. But where agriculture was once a dominant sector of the economy, better science and technology have led to ever increasing yields per acre. Also, farms consolidated, morphing into today's huge and highly efficient agribusinesses.

In Chandler a number of smaller farms still exist. However, many of them have already sold out and are just leasing their land from the new owners, developers, while those new owners get their permits before beginning construction. Two such farms are located just North of Queen Creek Road, to the East and to the West of McQueen Road.

To the West of McQueen Road, farmer Eric, pictured above, told us about his latest crop, corn. This corn is to be used as feed for dairy cows. Eric explained some of the cost drivers for modern agriculture. One is fertilizer, prices for which have risen dramatically. The other is Diesel, which has almost doubled in price in the last year and a half. Eric detailed that during the harvest his crew is in the fields for 3 weeks or so, burning through 300 gallons of diesel a day driving enormous harvester machines. At over $5 a gallon of Diesel, this means total harvest expenditures for Diesel of over $30,000.

The corn plants shown in the picture were sown about a month to go and have to grow for another five before they reach the final 8 to 9 foot height before harvest. The plants are watered every 10 days. Different sections of the corn field are carefully leveled to enable proper water flow from the canals delivering it. Eric told us that the corn plants sometimes grow so rapidly, up to an inch in one night, that this growth is audible during an otherwise quiet night as a crackling sound.

Eric said that the farm he runs with his family has already sold out to developers and will seize operations in the near future.

The higher input prices for fertilizer and fuel lead to higher prices for the harvested corn plants, which in turn means higher feed input prices for dairy cows. Much higher milk prices are the result. Incidentally, Chandler faces a double whammy as the Pylman Dairy Farm on the North-East corner of McQueen and Queen Creek Roads is winding down operations. Residents driving on McQueen Road may have noticed the ever decreasing number of cows on the property. Where there were formerly around 500 heads of adult cattle producing milk, now there are perhaps 50 juvenile cows left, as the picture below shows.

This leaves the dairy farm at the end of Willis Road, just to the South of the 202, near the Arizona Avenue exit, shown in the image below.

Do you think these developments lead to a loss of charm and history, or is it the necessary result of more people moving into the Chandler area, pushing farming into much less densely populated areas?



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