John Block Reports from Washington
John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.
Down On The Farm
Jul 09, 2009
Down on the farm in Illinois. That’s where I was this week. We celebrated the 4th of July with a cake decorated like an American flag and watched the fireworks show. That was only part of the fun.
We checked the corn fields. It sure isn’t as “high as an elephant’s eye” but all of it made the real test – “knee high by the 4th of July.” We wrapped up planting about one month later than normal this spring. This year’s planting season was one for the record books.
As I drove across the state of Illinois, I thought the corn, although late, looked reasonably good. And as it gets taller, the end rows will hide the wet spots and bad patches out in the field from the roadside observer. The U.S. corn crop sets the price for the world because we produce one half of the world’s corn. We are also the biggest producer of soybeans, although Brazil and Argentina together can beat us sometimes. Grain prices have taken a hit, but it is too soon to know what the future holds.
Our hogs are healthy and happy. That is in spite of the fact that prices are still mired in red ink. I’ve always considered hogs to be the “mortgage lifter,” but they have been a real drag for more than a year and a half. We had enough problems with an excess supply of pork and then along came swine flu and exports collapsed. Next year should be better as we liquidate more of our breeding stock.
Livestock producers, just like grain farmers, ride the market roller coaster year after year. Just hang in there. It will shake out in the end. That’s the way a market economy works.
When I pick up and hold one of our baby pigs (so cute), I can’t help but register the concern about all the animal rights people that want to tell us how to raise our pigs, calves, and chickens. We are on the defensive with livestock care standards bills being proposed in different states. They have campaigns to eliminate certain animal health products that prevent disease in farm animals. There are loud voices out there telling us what we can do and can’t do, as if they really know anything.
One farmer today produces enough food to feed 140 people. That is 100 more than jut 50 years ago. That releases those 100 people to do all the other jobs in our economy.
I’m proud of the American farmer and rancher and our whole industry.
Until next week, I am John Block from Washington, D.C.