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April 2010 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.

Viewer's Turn

Apr 26, 2010
***The following viewer feedback was received following the April 24-25, 2010 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

John,
    Your program this morning was most interesting to us at the Mastel Farms at Edgeley ND.  We:  My wife and I are retired but love farming.  We only have 2 quarters and 80 beef cows.  Good care for the cows keep us in good health.  I guess it pays off as we have sold over 100% calf crop for the last few years.  The dirt farming not so good.  This year won't be be as much fun to try and market wheat and beans that are in over supply.
   My real concern is, as your program indicated this morning.  The young farmers are going by the wayside and it hurts us as many are our good friends.  I don't think any thing can be done about it. A big farmer commented. "If I can pencil out $10 and acre I will rent that extra quarter or two".   Kind of pathetic. 
Charlie Mastel
PS:  Keep up the good program...


   Thank you, folks for my “15 seconds of fame” when John read my email concerning the $800 tractor on this morning’s (4/25) show. My point was that at the time a farmer would have bought that tractor new, it would have been a major ‘hard cash’ outlay for his family farm of the day and the story would have had more impact if it were put into that context but hey, thanks for the air time!
  
I noticed that when John was talking about that $300,000 ‘self navigating robot farmer’, he had a certain gleam in his eye. I don’t know if John is a science fiction fan or not, but I would suggest that he watch a showing of the 1984 movie  “Running” staring Tom Selleck. Mr. Selleck’s character was a cyber cop of sorts whose main task was to track down and disable malfunctioning robots. In the opening scenes; Selleck is trying to disable a runaway farm robot which was destroying a farm (corn I think) and killing all comers.  As a retired electronic engineer (dealing mainly with product testing); I caution John to be careful of what he craves, for he just might get it! The automated farm of John’s son's future will be brought to him by the same fine folks that write today's software for Microsoft and Toyota (one more thing to keep you up at night).
Tom Dietz
Spring Hill, Florida
***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of the Farm Report Mailbag Segment Tom referred to in his comments...
   TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....TOM DIETZ HAS A THOUGHT ABOUT TRACTOR PRICES.
   "JOHN QUOTED THE PURCHASE PRICE "NEW" OF THE TRACTOR (I THINK IT WAS $800). NOW, ON THE FACE OF IT I SAID "WOW" AND I'M LOOKING AT BUYING A $4500 LAWN MOWER THAT JUST CUTS GRASS! I STOPPED TO THINK (AND I HOPE THAT MANY OF YOUR VIEWERS DO TOO) WHAT IS THAT IN TODAY'S DOLLARS AND I WONDER WHAT THE FARMER WHO WOULD SPEND $800 OF HIS HARD EARNED MONEY MADE THAT YEAR."
      JOHN, I'M OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE THE SAME REACTIONS, ESPECIALLY SINCE I REMEMBER WHEN MANY OF THOSE ANTIQUES WERE NEW MACHINES. OF COURSE, SIMPLE INFLATION INCREASES THE COST, BUT THERE ARE OTHER FACTORS THAT MAKE THE OLD PRICES HARD TO PUT IN PERSPECTIVE.
      FOR ONE THING, THAT LAWN MOWER YOU ARE BUYING LIKELY HAS MORE HORSEPOWER THAN THE STEAM BEHEMOTHS WE OFTEN SHOW. THE FIRST TRACTOR I REMEMBER RIDING WAS ONLY 45 HP, AND WHEN THE FIRST 100 HORSE TRACTORS CAME OUT WE MARVELED AT ONE FROM THE SCHOOL BUS AS AN ENORMOUS POWERHOUSE.
      PRICES SHOULD BE PUT IN CONTEXT AS YOU SAY. FARMERS OFTEN POINT OUT HOW EXPENSIVE SAY, A NEW COMBINE IS - WHICH CAN RUN TO 300-400 THOUSAND DOLLARS. BUT THESE MACHINES DO THE WORK OF HUNDREDS IF NOT THOUSANDS OF HUMANS, WHILE DRIVING THEMSELVES, KEEPING DETAILED MAPS OF YIELDS AND METICULOUSLY AND GENTLY THRESHING THE CROP.
      MOST TOOLS COST AND DO MORE. AND AS WE DEPLOY EVEN MORE TECHNOLOGY WE DO SO BECAUSE IT MAKES GOOD ECONOMIC SENSE. THE TRICKY QUESTION IS HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY WILL REPLACE HOW MANY HUMANS IN OUR PROFESSION.

Earth Day & Agriculture

Apr 23, 2010
Hello and Best Wishes this Earth Day,
     Our family farm here in the Golden State has been faced with weather challenges the past few weeks which have halted fieldwork, so my brother Steven, sister Tracy, and I took some time to share with the rest of world our thoughts on farming, family, our communities, and the environment this Earth Day.  We wanted to personally share them with you and say thanks for being our partners in continued success.  The op-ed appears today, April 22nd, in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here's the link to the opinion editorial piece. 

Best Regards,
Ryan & Holly Schohr, Steven & Melissa Schohr, & Tracy Schohr

Viewers Have Their Say

Apr 19, 2010

***Editor's Note:  The following viewer feedback was received in response to the April 17-18, 2010 edition of the program...

#1:
   I've been watching your show for years.  I am not a farmer but I have squirrel farmers in my back yard that do a great job of planting corn seed from my squirrel feeder..noticing the corn as it grows in my town yard.....does not look as good as the corn growing in our rural area outside the town where I live.  Is this because of the fertilizer that is planted with the corn grows a more healthy crop or can corn grow without fertilizer?  I remember the story of the indians who taught the pilgrims to plant their corn with fish to fertilize the corn for a more healthy corn crop.....like this question answered...  love the show....Ron Thompson

#2:
    Fire is a part of nature. The April 12, 2010 page 37 of C&EN has an article, "Smoke Signels". 
It tells about seeds that sprout and grow better after being exposed to smoke from a grass or forest fire. The compound that helps the seed may be developed to treat farm and garden seeds.  The man who thought his cat helped the garden seeds may have had a cat with the effect of smoke.
Jim Jackson

#3:
   Afternoon, folks. I wanted to comment on something that John mentioned in his "Tractor Tails" segment this morning (4/18/2010); this is something that he has done more than once. John quoted the  purchase price "new" of the tractor (I think it was $800). Now, on the face of it I said "WOW" and I'm looking at buying a $4500 lawn mower that just cuts grass! I stopped to think (and I hope that many of your viewers do too) what is that in today's dollars and I wonder what the farmer who would spend $800 of his hard earned money made that year. Giving the inflation adjusted price (along with the "new" price) and maybe some sort of perspective cost would be of interest to your viewers and not diminish from the literary impact of the "new" price.
Tom Dietz

#4:
   Here are three pictures of a combine fire.  I don't know how recent the photos are.
http://www.joe-ks.com/archives_jan2010/CookingDeere.htm 
   From a rural perspective, the thing I notice is that there is no sign of a fire department.  911 may be convenient for city folks, but rural people need to be self-sufficient in case of fire or medical emergency.  The primary reason rural people don't live as long as urban people is the absence of emergency medical care; usually the fire department EMT.  
  
In an area served by a volunteer fire department, volunteers have to drop what they are doing, head to the fire station to don their turnouts, and then proceed to the fire.  Many times, the emergency is resolved one way or another before help arrives.
Larry Caldwell

A Safety Reminder

Apr 15, 2010
   One of the programs during the 1st of March John had a letter with information as to how to break up the corn in a grain bin, to allow it to be augured out.  He said he would post it on his blog.  I have checked through the blogs off and on the past month and have not found it.  Could you either point it out to us or describe the operation to us.
Thank you.
Floyd & Joan Bergman

***Editor's Note:  CLICK HERE for more information from John's blog on Stan's corn borer...

A Tricky Transition

Apr 12, 2010
***The following viewer comments were received following the April 10-11, 2010 edition of the program...

   You were spot on as far as transition and retirement goes.  My father helped me transition in the late 70’s and I will be helping my son in the 10’s.  I started out In direct competition with way too many young farmers.  Everybody overleveraged and when times got tough nobody had the power to survive I got lucky.  The decline is staggering.  There are none of them left.  The advice my dad gave me was that the only money you will be able to spend is what you put in your IRA.  You will get rent off the farm but you won’t be able to spend the net worth.  I have plugged every spare dollar into my retirement accts.  My son won’t be able to even pay me for the equipment.  I will have to give even that to him if he is to survive.
You have a great show.  Keep up the good work, we need all the marketing help we can get.
Ed Schmid JR.
Minnewaukan, ND



   My greatest concern with potential terrorist threats to the United States is a bioterror attack on our agriculture.  Recall the impact of the Irish Potato Famine.
   If you study the infamous Monsanto "Frankenseed" patent, you can see how a hostile nation such as North Korea or Iran could easily carry out a massive attack on our crops.  Indeed, a number of organic farmers have been sued by Monsanto for intellectual property theft due to wind borne cross pollination by Monsanto genetically engineered crops in nearby fields.
   Thus, a potential terrorist could engineer a set of genes affecting corn or wheat where the promoter or inhibitor avoids activation until exposed to a secondary activating factor, thus permitting the genes to spread widely without any signs of activity until a secondary activating agent is introduced. Such an attack could cripple American agricultural production.
    On a more amusing note, a neighbor of mine in the 1960s had a "toilet garden" where he had turned a large number of discarded toilets into garden planters.  I'm not sure how the neighbors felt about this, but it was certainly eye catching.
Very truly yours,
James W. Adams
Columbus, OH

The Real Reason Behind Consolidation???

Apr 08, 2010
   You talked about consolidation in farming and the main reason why farms are getting bigger is low interest rates and easy access to credit.  When you look at history, in the twenties there were some huge farms here in Canada one farm was 40,000 acres.  Just like today it is easy to expand when interest rates are low, it has little to do with technology or being efficient as to why farms are getting bigger.  It is having a central bank that controls the price of savings (interest) that allows farms to get bigger by borrowing money at artificially low interest rates.  I may be wrong but it is a different perspective that I think is worth looking in to.
Troy Hanson

A Farmer's Son

Apr 05, 2010

John,
   I found your commentary of the loss of farming communities interesting. As the oldest son of a farmer/industrialist, who was the oldest son of a farmer. As the generations have gone so has the knowledge. Society is successful choking itself thin. Years ago the nation looked to farmers sons for their skills, from shooting to wrenching. With a spiritual connection to round out what defined the Farmers son. Sure, there are still some out there. Urban blight and technology has made our jobs easier, and cost us our jobs in the mean time.
   As a journeyman Tool & Diemaker, I too, have been twice removed from farming and now industry. As our jobs have gone over seas. I thank God that I grew up in the community farms. Working for as many as three farms thru the course of a year. What of todays farm boys? Working for your neighbors, turning wrenches, being responsible......Our future as a nation. Farmers, I ask, give the neighbor kid a chance.
A Farmers Son,
Mike Detterman

 

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