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Big changes in farming, regulations in 72 years

By Kay S. Pedrotti In a ground-zero position of observation for 72 years, members of the Akins family of Barnesville say farming and agriculture needs have undergone enormous changes since 1940. Current manager Bruce Akins, son, grandson and nephew of the family members who founded Akins Farm and Home, says he now needs innumerable separate licenses for all his services and products — there is no such thing as spraying a field or mixing fertilizer without approval of the state. ’It’s very different,’ he adds. ’Back in 1940, we raised calves and pigs inside the store at 29 Market Street. Some of the licensing and supervising now is good because it protects us as well as the folks around us but you don’t have enough ink to list all the mindboggling regulatory stuff I’d change if I could.’ Another big change has been the type of farms in the nine-county area Akins serves, says Bruce. ’There were more than 40 dairies in Lamar County alone and maybe 100 or more in the surrounding counties when we started out,’ he adds. ‘Now I estimate there are no more than 10 dairies in all nine counties.’ Lamar has only two large crop farming operations left, he says, those of Dar Bohnenstiehl and Sauney Pippin. Other than those two, ‘Farming has become a sideline, a ‘˜farmette,’ for most of the people who plant small acreage or keep a small herd of cows or horses,’ he notes. ‘Corporate farming has become the norm throughout the state and the country.’ Akins’ store has managed to change with the times. Back when, farmers would come in with a specific request, get it and be gone, but now more shoppers are female and spend more time. Respect for his forebears is evident in Bruce’s conversations, as is the esteem he has for the Akins staff whether family or not. ’We’ve concentrated on bringing to all our customers those products or services they need for farm or home,’ Bruce says. ‘It’s been a privilege to be here all these years.’

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