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October 2008 Archive for U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

RSS By: U.S. Farm Report, US Farm Report

Comments, questions, opinions...this is your chance to speak out regarding anything and everything reported on U.S. Farm Report. Viewer feedback updated regularly.

Another John's World Poem

Oct 28, 2008
A couple weeks ago John read a quote from his father that was touching.  I happened to go through some old schoolbooks of my father when he was young probably around 12 and came across a quote he had written.  He was born in 1917 and lived through the depression and thought this was interesting coming from such a young age.  It said:

“Hoover blew a whistle
Mellon rang a bell
Wall Street gave a signal
Country went to hell.”

Mike from Marysville, OH

Livestock & Grain Prices

Oct 27, 2008
I watch your program on the weekends (religiously). I enjoy the programs. My continual criticism was that the programs and Al Pell’s segment catered exclusively to the grain farmer. Nothing was ever mentioned about the cattle farmer who had to purchase the high priced grain. I do not raise grain so the programs did not apply to my situation. I was glad to see that the Oct. 26/27 program addressed some concerns of the cattle farmer.
 
Drought gripped Kentucky in 2007 and 2008. Many of us were forced to purchase hay from out of state in order to keep our cattle alive in 07. The hay I purchase came from Kansas. When we were forced to purchase high priced grain and commodities, we felt as though we were hit with a double whammy. The bottom line of those of us who did not raise grain was severely challenged it was mostly red ink.
 
Although every expert stated that the high prices that grain farmers enjoyed was not due to ethanol, from my perspective it appeared that ethanol played a role in the high prices. I felt that the government support of ethanol was due to the influence of grain farmers (Illinois) and their congressional leaders. I also feel that ethanol from grain may be a break even situation at best from an energy perspective. The concept is something to make the green supporters and folks that do not know any better feel good. The cellulolytic concept makes much more sense than corn based ethanol production from an energy perspective.
 
Should I feel bad that grain prices are temporarily in the tank right now? Should I feel bad that the incoming administration (whoever) may not be friendly to the continued government support of ethanol production? I would welcome a discussion as to why I, as a cattle farmer, should be concerned about the lower grain prices and the possibility that government support of ethanol production may be cut.
 
James Jackson
Cattle farmer and University Professor

Gas Prices Falling

Oct 27, 2008
Maybe $1.00 gas isn't to far away -  we passed a station in Wichita this afternoon selling E-85 for $1.89 and filled up down the street with 87 octane for $2.15.

J. Robb

A Fertilizer Checkoff???

Oct 23, 2008

Dear John,

This is ironic but true. The board price at the local elevators for corn and beans is almost a cent-for-cent mirror to the board prices at the local elevators at this time last year. With these current prices, last year after harvest most farmers were enthused with their profits but even more important there was a new found excitement about the future of farming. You could hear it in the way farmers talked but more evident was the upgrading of assets from buildings and bins to tractors and combines, to the point where there was actually a shortage of new equipment to be found.  This year, same prices for grain, and the excitement is gone.

Many farms in our area have experienced lower yields than anticipated, however this does not seem to be the contributing factor to the lack of enthusiasm that just one year ago was so evident. Input costs are the culprit, mainly fertilizer. I have heard everything from "we'll use just enough to get by" to "I won't be planting any corn" to "I can more afford to let my ground lay idle than to risk everything to break even". This is a big, big concern.

Two weeks ago in a front page story about fertilizer told by the fertilizer industry in ag paper, Agrinews, a page and a half of print was used justifying the high price of fertilizer. In a nutshell they blame it on supply and demand. Apparently they can charge these astronomical prices because at this time there is more demand than there is supply or the capacity for supply. They claim that for years there was no money made and now they are using the profit taking to build new and more efficient fertilizer plants to meet the high worldwide demand for fertilizer.

On the other side my neighbor has left about 200 acres of corn to shell. He has been contacted twice in the past week, one by a large North American grain operation that operates an elevator nearby and two by an ethanol plant just opened about 70 miles away, both operations wanting his corn. The writing is on the wall that corn supplies are short this year. So why doesn't the supply and demand theory work here? Seems as if they want the corn, Mister Farmer should be able to dictate the price. However everyone knows it doesn't work this way. The truth is that the price of grain is fixed and Mister Farmer can't do a whole lot about it. That being accepted, the price of fertilizer has to fluctuate accordingly to what grain is worth at any given time in order to pencil out. It just won't work having the same price for grain with fertilizer tripled and in some cases quadrupled in price. Won't work.

I think it is time for a fertilizer check off much the same as the soybean check off. If all the farmers in America would contribute a penny a bushel to a "farmer owned" fertilizer operation in America then this price gouging would be curtailed. A giant American Co-op. Up and running, competition would bring the already existing fertilizer industry back to reality. This would bring under control one aspect of farming that currently the farmer at this time has almost little or no control.

Sincerely,

Steve Bevington
St. Joe, IN

A Tractor Question

Oct 21, 2008
   I am looking for a long term tractor with mixed feeling on most of them.  I want a tractor that is dependable and in about 10 years or so when I need parts I can get them!  Do you have a recommendation?
   My friends are divided between Kubota and John Deere. At the present we have a ford 3500 and need parts for It but I feel we need a new tractor at this time. The computer test I took said I need a 27 to 30 horsepower tractors with a front end loader and 4 wheel drive, but gave no light on a make and model! 
  Thanks for any light you can shine on the question to help me make a good choice. I am open to your suggestions.
 
Grego Garrett
Sweet Gum Farm
Lavaca Co., Texasa

Sharing the Roads

Oct 20, 2008
John,
   Thank you for mentioning the community yielding to oversize ag equipment.  I feel the same way about saluting farmers as I do soldiers.  I have two sons one in the Marines and the other in the Army.   You are giving us all a thank you.
Karla Currins, Bluff, IL (Scott County)

***Editor's Note:  Karla is responding to the following commentary from John Phipps that aired the weekend of October 18th.  Here are his comments:
    TODAY, JUST A COUPLE OF WORDS FOR NON-FARM RURAL DRIVERS OUT THERE WHO ARE SHARING COUNTRY ROADS WITH MASSIVE FARM EQUIPMENT RIGHT NOW. THANK YOU.
    I KNOW FARM COMMUNICATORS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE STERNLY LECTURING THE PUBLIC ABOUT HOW THEY SHOULD RESPECT FARMERS TRYING TO TRANSPORT GRAIN AND MACHINERY, BUT I THINK YOU GUYS ARE DOING A GREAT JOB - AND CHEERFULLY AS WELL.
    THIS WEEK ON NO FEWER THAN 5 OCCASIONS, DRIVERS WENT OUT OF THEIR WAY TO HELP ME SQUEEZE A COMBINE OR GRAIN CART OR TRUCK AROUND A CORNER, INTO A FIELD OR DOWN THE ROAD. THEY HAVE PULLED INTO NEARBY DRIVEWAYS AND BACKED UP AT INTERSECTIONS TO HELP ME TURN, AND EVEN TAKEN THE NEXT ROAD. AND SINCE IT REQUIRES ALL MY ATTENTION AND BOTH HANDS TO CONTROL THE SITUATION, I WASN'T EVEN ABLE TO WAVE - ONLY NOD AND SMILE. 
    ONE REASON I BELIEVE IN FARMING CLOSE TO HOME IS THIS DEPTH OF COMMUNITY. LOCAL DRIVERS KNOW MY MACHINERY AND OFTEN EVEN WHICH FIELD I'M LIKELY GOING TO. THEY ALSO KNOW AN OBLITERATED STOP SIGN OR MAILBOX IS A DEFINITE POSSIBILITY, SO THEY HAVE BEEN GOING OUT OF THEIR WAY TO HELP.
    WE ARE CROWDING THE CAPACITY OF OUR SMALL ROADS TO SUPPORT MODERN AG EQUIPMENT, BUT NO AMOUNT OF TAX-FUNDED IMPROVEMENTS CAN ACCOMPLISH AS MUCH AS COOPERATION BETWEEN ALL WHO LIVE IN THE COUNTRY.
 
 
 
 

John's World Poem

Oct 13, 2008
I heard your show this morning and was wondering if you would share the poem that you did this morning about the underwear in knots.  I think we all need something to laugh at right about now.  Thanks for sharing it.  I think my Grandson would get a laugh out of that one.  Good job.
 
Sincerely,
Sharon Baker

***Editor's Note:  We received multiple requests just like the one above.  Here is the poem in its entirety:

Johnny - 
Any man can grin when his ship has come in,
And it's all tied up at the dock.
But the man who's worthwhile
Is the man who can smile
When his underwear's tied in a knot.

Pork Barrel Projects!

Oct 10, 2008
Hi John,

It seems to me that people who refer to money for special projects that get stuffed into legitimate legislation should refrain from using "Pork Barrel" it should be called Horse apples. I don't think most of these educated idiot's realize how lean today's Pork really is and this old saying should be changed to reflect today's hog industry. The other "White meat". Thanks

Gary Moore Rockford, IL

Another cash crop in Michigan

Oct 09, 2008

Another cash crop for farmer's in Michigan...
John W. Laverty - McBain, MI:

The Poorest Bean Harvest since the 70's

Oct 09, 2008
Dear U.S. Farm Report,

Just wanted to show you one of poorest bean harvests we have had seen since the 70's. It rained all around us but we got 2 tenths of a inch of rain from the 5th of July until September 13. Had a good stand of beans, about 30 inches of height. Very little bug or fungus problems. The beans just dried up. A lot of pods never filled out at all. A lot of 1 and 2 beans per pod. The picture shows how the pods never filled out.

Viewer Feedback

Oct 06, 2008
 


USFR Viewers: Let us know your thoughts! Contact Us to submit your comments or questions. 

J.G. Decker:
Where is the E-85 Flex fuel Tractor and related ag. machines? It would be a great way to promote the fuel source.

 
Scott Bushnell - St. Joseph County, Ind:
 Dear John,
    I don’t seem to remember anyone clamoring to help farmers – especially those in the upper Midwest – in the late 1980s/early 1990s when banks and insurers foreclosed on farm mortgages. Few in Congress or the Treasury or even the US Department of Agriculture stood up to decry the ruined family farms when the combination of poorer-than-expected harvests and higher default rates converged. There wasn’t any movement in Congress to “bailout” families who had honored their legacy of providing food for America and the world. Yes, farmers had made a mistake in listening to their bankers and brokers in taking on greater debt in buying more land, newer equipment and greater risks. Insurance companies and bankers that wrote farm mortgages wanted better returns than they were getting from these investments. There were confrontations between police officers and farmers when the latter’s families were evicted from their land. But no bail out was discussed.  The stink in the bailout of Wall Street is not manure; it’s the toxic waste of greed.
 
 
Frank Buckmaster - Fort Wayne, Ind:
I never miss your Saturday program.  We get it on channel 21 out of Fort Wayne, IN.  You and your team do a very good job.  I am retired but help my sons in the summer and we got Florida for 4 months in winter.  We farm 1700 acres corn-soybeans some wheat and feed out 500 steers.  We are located about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.  Thank you for a job well done!
 
Bob Karczewski: 
John, has there been any report on what shape the grain shipping facilities in Galveston, Texas are in? When I lived in Texas from 2001 to 2004, I used to see a lot of grain trains headed to Galveston on the Santa Fe and the Union Pacific. After Hurricane Ike made such a mess there, I wonder if there will be any grain shipped out of that location in the near future. 

Steve & Mary:
My husband and I farm in Wa. state and we wonder why you have very little to say on the subject of wheat and where it's going and why.  We realize that beans and corn are your bread and butter, but wheat and cattle are ours. We enjoy your program and watch it every Sunday.

***Editor's note:  the following emails are referring to the U.S. Farm Report Mailbag Segment of September 27-28...here is a transcript of that segment for your reference:

   Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag...a few eyebrows were raised when I spoke last week about the European practice of licensing farmers, and not allowing those over 65 to operate farm equipment.   From Larry Dynes - "In one breath you state they are ahead of us and then state they cannot get one at age 65.  Who is ahead?  How many farmers would we lose in this country and what about age discrimination?"
   Larry thanks for writing.  I find it interesting many producers feel children and seniors are desperately needed to operate farm equipment.  That's not my experience.  Moreover, the courts have ruled special driver's exam procedures for older people are justified, so I don't think this is age discrimination.  As tractor safety experts in this country have pointed out, this attitude is a contributing factor to the fact that agriculture has a work fatality rate per worker five times the next most dangerous industry.
   Older drivers do not have a disproportionate number of accidents but they are almost three times more likely to die from tractor accidents than other age groups.  If nothing else, the European rule eliminates many senior deaths.  In addition, licenses to apply pesticides in the U-S have not proven overly burdensome for operators.
   The ide of licensing farmers makes many producer nervous because it attaches standards of competence to an occupation they feel should be open to all.  I respectfully disagree.  Farming is the only industry where we annually kill children on the job.  I'm ready to inconvenience myself and others to end this sorry record.


LaMoine Einspahr:  
Dear John - licensing farmers is a BAD idea. GET OVER IT. Your rant about putting another burden of licenses upon farmers was NOT received here in a good mood at all. That bad idea is just as stupid as it would be to require a license for commentators holding them responsible for stupid ideas like this one. MY LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL INJURES MORE STUDENTS IN SPORTS THAN FARMERS WHO ARE INJURED WHILE FARMING. While farming is an inherently dangerous business due to the multitude of different skills needed, there are very few bad accidents. On the other side children have knees, hips, backs and necks permanently damaged for WHAT PURPOSE? That injury will hinder them for a life time and make them more susceptible to other injury in any other profession they follow. That idea, licensing farmers is just another liberal way to subject farmers to city bureaucrat overlords. As an OLD farmer, I remember clearly when the universities were telling farmers to mix CERESAN into their wheat seed. CERESAN was compounded from mercury. I have no doubt that my body is full of mercury from the advice of some city bureaucrat, bad advice and now we must call a HAZMAT TEAM any time a bit of mercury is spilled. Just don't give me any more good advice like using mercury on my seed, and stop this city pushed crap on farmers over this license deal. You better first license mothers before they have a child. First you must license children before they participate in any sport. You first license anyone who works in the "TELL FARMERS WHAT TO DO" business, and REQUIRE they pass a farmer designed test first to see if they are suitable for the task.

Tom Jacques - Hartville, MO:
Are you (J. Phipps) from the People's Republic of Massachusetts? Don't we have enough government intruding into every facet of our lives. Next we'll have to weigh and be taxed on animal poop on the farm to pay for our "carbon footprint". The greens will have us eliminate all fossil fuel based fertilizers and pesticides. Fossil fuel powered tractors will be verboten (so European) and we will be buying farm equipment from the Amish along with their well trained methane exhausting power engines (possibility for more taxing of horse manure). Of course we will have to have buggy driving licenses for those under 65 and over 15 years of age. After that will come government installed dust anylizers and we will be taxed on the measured dust levels around the farm paying an increasing amount as our particulate per cubic nano-meter rises. I use the metric measurement since you are in love with Europe. Surely we should use Europeans as a shining mansion on the hill since they are the standard for efficiency and model social structures. They regulate your whole life and I guess you like that idea. And it is nice to know, if using their model, that the goverment will "allow" us to keep maybe 15% of our income. You will probably vote for Obama so we can have more erosion of our freedom as he and the democrats vote for what you seem to desire. Our founders fought and died for freedom which you are willing to quietly cede to a bunch of lunatics in Washington. It always amazes me that people like you are so willing to let greedy politicians who are incapable of running a two car funeral take over our very existence.

 

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