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April 2011 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.

The Great Subsidy Debate

Apr 26, 2011

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of John's commentary from this past weekend (April 23-24, 2011) followed by viewer feedback...

JOHN'S WORLD COMMENTARY:

   DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT? THAT OVERWORKED PUNCHLINE HAS TAKEN ON A NEW TWIST AS AMERICANS INCREASINGLY ARE SAYING NO THANKS. WHILE NOT DRASTIC IT APPEARS FAST FOOD CUSTOMERS ARE STEPPING BACK FROM SUPERSIZING THE FRIES AT LEAST. BUT HERE IS THE ASTOUNDING PART. WE HAVE NO FOOTAGE OF POTATO FARMERS STORMING WASHINGTON DEMANDING COMPENSATION OR TEARFULLY POINTING OUT WHY IT'S A DUTY OF THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER TO SEND THEM A CHECK. THAT'S BECAUSE POTATO FARMERS ARE REAL FARMERS. THEY ARE NOT COVERED BY ANY DIRECT PAYMENT PROGRAM AND IF YOU STOP TO THINK ABOUT IT, I'LL BET YOU HAVEN'T EVEN NOTICED. EVEN THOUGH POTATOES ARE DIFFICULT TO STORE AND SUBJECT TO SIMILAR PROBLEMS OF PRODUCTION AS CORN AND WHEAT, NONE OF US WAKES UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT WORRIED ABOUT A POTATO CHIP FAMINE. ONE REASON I HAVE LONG WEARIED OF THE CLAIM THAT SUBSIDIES TO THE POLITICALLY SENSITIVE SACRED SEVEN CROPS - CORN, SOY, WHEAT, COTTON, RICE, SUGAR AND DAIRY - ARE ESSENTIAL TO MAINTAIN ABUNDANT SUPPLIES IS THE STARK COUNTER-EXAMPLE OF POTATOES. ARE POTATO GROWERS SUPER-BEINGS FROM ANOTHER PLANET WITH UNEARTHLY POWERS? OR IS POSSIBLE THAT SENDING ME $25 PER ACRE FOR HAVING A BODY TEMPERATURE OF ABOUT 98 DEGREES, WHICH YOU JUST DID HAS ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT ON THE ABUNDANCE OF CORN AND BEANS. WE GROW OVER 200 CROPS HERE IN THE U-S AND THE VAST MAJORITY WITHOUT SENDING FARMERS A GOVERNMENT CHECK. OUR FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM WORKS FOR POTATOES. IT WILL WORK FOR ME.

*VIEWER FEEDBACK 

#1: Sugar is not a subsidized commodity, it only has a loan program that is seldom used, get your facts correct.  John Gudajtes 

#2:  Hi John, the below could help in keeping the sugar tariffs in place.  Hopefully though it would not put a damper on the entire renewable fuels industry.  Thanks - Dave

CLICK HERE 

A Word(s) on Wind...Continued...

Apr 25, 2011

***Editor's Note:  John's comments on wind power in this weekend's (April 23-24, 2011) drew lots of reaction.  First we are posting links pertaining to his comments followed by the transcript from his Mailbag segment...finally, viewer reaction...

LINKS:

 

MAILBAG:

   TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG...A WIND ENERGY ENTHUSIAST, RICH DAHL, TAKES ISSUE WITH MY REMARKS ON WIND FARMS:

   “JOHN REALLY BLEW IT TODAY WITH HIS LAME COMMENTS ON WINDPOWER.
GO BACK A FEW YEARS JOHN AND YOU'LL FIND SIMILAR UNINFORMED COMMENTS BY HORSE AND MULE FARMERS ABOUT TRACTORS.”
 
   RICH, I AM NO EXPERT BUT I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING WIND ENERGY FOR SEVERAL YEARS. MY SOURCES ARE ON OUR HOMEPAGE.  FIRST, IT DOESN'T EVEN COME CLOSE ECONOMICALLY. EVEN WITH ENORMOUS GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES CONSUMERS PAY 4 TO 10 TIMES MORE FOR WIND ENERGY. THE INTERMITTENT NATURE OF WIND ENERGY MEANS BACKUP POWER PLANTS HAVE TO BE ON HOT STANDBY WHICH ACTUALLY CAN CAUSE MORE CARBON EMISSIONS, NOT LESS. WIND POWER SUPPLY IS ALMOST NON-EXISTENT DURING THE HIGHEST DEMAND - HOT SUMMER DAYS.
DENMARK - THE POSTER CHILD FOR WIND POWER - HAS THE HIGHEST ELECTRIC COSTS IN EUROPE AND EVEN SELLS MOST OF THEIR VARIABLE WIND POWER TO NORWAY WHICH HAS HYDROELECTRIC PLANTS TO SMOOTH THE SUPPLY. FINALLY, IF BUDGET CUTTERS SCALE BACK WIND SUBSIDIES, FEW WILL BE BUILT. MOREOVER, THOSE SUBSIDIES ENRICH TURBINE MANUFACTURERS, DEVELOPERS AND LANDOWNERS WHILE BILKING TAXPAYERS AND CONSUMERS.
WE HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THE IDEA OF FREE ENERGY FROM THE WIND, BUT UNLESS WE TAX CARBON, IT IS NOT A RATIONAL CHOICE.
 
VIEWER REACTION:
#1:  Your comments on wind energy are correct.  However, you miss the true potential of renewable energy.  It is true that both wind and solar are limited by their very nature.  The real benefit would be in converting excess renewable energy to hydrogen.  Hydrogen can be created and stored just about every where.  It then could be used to power automobiles and yes tractors.  I saw a prototype Ford hydrogen powered tractor at the Farm Progress Show last year.  All of the auto manufactures have prototype models today.  These cars could be in production in a few months.  It would take a few years to get this system fully operational but like the transcontinental railroad it would change this country for the better.  California already has some hydrogen refueling stations. If we were able to stop importing Middle Eastern oil look at the huge impact it would have on our economy.  Everyone in the oil industry in the USA today would still have their jobs 10 years from now.  The big difference would be we would be in charge of our economy not some OPEC oil barons. Thank you, for your time.
Jim Lively
Lone Tree, IA
 
#2:  Your commentary was spot on.  Windfarms/Wind energy are not the end all/be all that the Greenies are purporting them to be.  Agri-professionals should be smarter than this but those getting excess cash will tout their effectiveness to anyone that will listen.  If the subsidies stop and the companies go belly up, who is going to clean up the rotting and decaying turbine towers that are left behind.  I hope it is not the tax payer or the energy consumer but rather the land owner who took the money up front!  The north part of west central Indiana is getting littered with these turbines and they are not benefiting anyone but the wind co employees, turbine makers, construction workers, and land owners.  More of this type of energy will only cost the average consumer with higher rates!  Wind turbines are GREEN energy!  You get lots of GREEN in your pocket from Joe Taxpayer if you are involved with the project.
Keep up the good education work!!!
Brian O.
Lafayette, IN
 
#3:  I couldn't agree more with John's comments on the high cost/low value of wind power.  We are right in the middle of several wind farms being built in the Thumb of Michigan.  An estimated $510 million (that's over half a billion) dollar transmission line is to be built to support this
extravaganza, with many cost overruns expected.  Parts of five of our farms are being condemned/taken for this line-against our will-and the poles will be placed diagonally across many miles of beautiful farm land.  I wonder how many wind energy lovers would enjoy having to give up THEIR land & view for this expensive fad.  Meanwhile, 20 miles away, Consumers Power has mothballed a clean, coal-fired plant in Bay City, MI, that would, according to my friend who is an engineer there, make 5 TIMES more power, for LESS money than what's being spent on this wind farm experiment.
Mark Fischer
Unionville, MI
 
 
 

A Word on Wind

Apr 21, 2011

   John REALLY blew it today with his lame comments on windpower.  Go back a few years John and you'll find similar uninformed comments by horse and mule farmers about tractors. Please leave what you don't understand out of the script.

Thank you.

Rich Dahl

 

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of John's comments on windpower from last weekend's program...he will offer his full rebuttal this weekend (April 23-24, 2011) on U.S. Farm Report...

 

JOHN'S COMMENTS ON WINDPOWER:

  "ALL OF US HAVE BEEN ATTRACTED TO THE WRONG PERSON. AND UNFORTUNATELY WE CAN BE FASCINATED WITH WRONG IDEAS AS WELL. SUCH IS THE CASE WITH WIND POWER. A RECENT STUDY FROM THE U-K THREW ICE COLD WATER ON THIS INEFFICIENT ENERGY SOURCE. NOT ONLY WERE TURBINES DELIVERING LESS ENERGY THAN HOPED, THEY WERE NEARLY USELESS DURING PEAK DEMAND. THIS PATTERN HAS ALSO BEEN NOTED IN TEXAS, WHERE OUR BIGGEST WIND ENERGY STATE GETS TRIVIAL AMOUNTS OF POWER DURING THE SIZZLING HIGH DEMAND DAYS. WHAT WIND TURBINES ARE BEST AT GENERATING ARE SUBSIDIES TO OWNERS AND BUILDERS - NOT ELECTRICITY. BUT APPARENTLY WE HAVE DECIDED TO IGNORE THE NUMBERS."

 

Why all the "Doom & Gloom"???

Apr 11, 2011

Some of Saturday’s April 9th U.S. Farm Report Statements (during the market round-tables)... 

"Too wet, too cold."  "Snow piles all over." "Water standing in fields." I had to go outside to make sure The Sky was not Falling. Last time I checked it’s the middle of April. Mother Nature will come around as she always does. With 55 plus years of growing seasons under my belt, the crop (sometimes changed) always got in and always got harvested...some earlier than others and some better than others. Take advantage of the extra time...sleep in, have a late breakfast, play with the grandkids, hit the honey do list, more time with the misses.

Bernard Wotachek - Denmark, WI

***Editor's Note:  Below is John's response to Bernard's feedback...
 
Thanks for the reminder that we always have these worries, but you left some other factors out.
 
1. Through virtually all of those 55 crops there was a considerable surplus that gave us a fallback cushion.
2. Compare prices then with the $7.82 corn I sold last week. The economic stakes are much higher.
3. We have started factoring in routinely large crops. Even a small decline in production which would have gone unnoticed before will hurt some user.
4. Talk to the protein industry about their future. As I have been saying all winter, a casual attitude about growing corn this year is not enough.
5. Your POV is from the grower perspective. It's all good price news for us. Corn users are facing a completely different future, one version of which has the sky actually falling on them (~150 bpa crop, for example)
 
Perhaps we should temper our combined statements (I will keep your words in mind), but I have no control over the panelists. Consider briefly what happens if they are right, no matter how improbable. We are making history here, I believe - not just spending another day at the office.
Thanks for writing.
John
 

A Comment & a Question

Apr 08, 2011

#1:   John, after watching this program for well over a year know I’ve come to respect and your views and analysis on issues affecting the Ag community and the majority of the time completely agree with them. So here’s one for you. The EPA seems to constantly be at odds with every farm organization these days. And not being a farmer or in the Ag industry for all I know maybe it’s always been the case. But what I keep hearing from these AG organizations that are attacking the EPA is that they (the EPA) are not basing their decisions on sound science. Is the EPA really that incompetent so that every regulation, at least the one’s affecting the Ag community is based on unsound science? Frankly I don’t believe this and while it may be at least partially true for a few issues, I believe it’s more likely the it’s just the latest “catch phrase” being used by these organizations, and are probably other non-Ag originations, that are at odds with new EPA regulations and the reason they are so against these regulations is it’s going to affect their “bottom-line” or make it harder to do business. I know the EPA is not perfect and some regulations may need to reviewed or modified because they are over burdensome but the EPA has done much more good than harm since they’ve been around and I have much more respect for EPA than most business’ that are at odds with them. I would say the EPA has a much better track record than anyone who opposes them (on average). Thanks John! And I’ll keep watching!   Keith Larochelle - Hartford, MN

#2:  I am writing this email in the hope that you can help me locate the necessary information and resources for pursuing a career change.  I have a bachelors degree in electrical engineering and have worked in the computer software industry for the past two decades.  I am interested in pursuing farming at this point in my life due to the independence and lifestyle it affords.  I would appreciate if you could provide me with the name of a good consultant who can educate and guide me regarding how to secure funding, how to identify the best crop to grow considering the present and future markets, how to find an appropriate piece of land on which to grow that crop, and on how to grow, harvest and market that crop.  I would also appreciate if you could provide me with the names of any websites, articles, books, informational brochures or other resources that I can use to research these topics.  Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Gary Galinsky
***Editor's Note:  The USDA has an initiative for just such a request - CLICK HERE to learn more... 
 
 
 

End the Ethanol Subsidy???

Apr 06, 2011

   It's so good to hear a farmer who isn't into getting subsidies for himself at the expense of the taxpayer. Don't get me wrong, I understand the reason for subsidized crop ins. etc, but get rid of the ethanol subsidy.  Considering many poor people with older cars will risk catching fire due to the 15% ethanol content in the gasoline and it's highly corrosive effects on auto fuel systems, plus there is less energy in ethanol than gasoline per unit volume, so a gallon of ethanol will get you far less mileage than a gallon of gasoline, unless you can take advantage of the high basic octane rating with a turbocharger or something similar, but you still won't do as well.  Best to use the ethanol for jet aircraft as ethanol doesn't freeze as easily as kerosene(the basic fuel in jet fuel) and emulsifies H2O better, thereby eliminating two issues at once for jet airliners. 

  • Ethanol is 76,000 btu per gallon.
  • 1 gallon of ethanol weighs 6.584 lbs
  • Gasoline 114,000 BTU/gal
  • One US gallon or from 5.92 to 6.42 lbs

Les Odgers

 

OSHA on the Farm?

Apr 04, 2011

***Editor's Note: We received a number of comments regarding's John's commentary on farm deaths and the role OSHA could/should play.  To red the report on grain bin deaths that John references below. CLICK HERE.  Below is a transcript of John's commentary, followed by the viewer feedback...

John's World Commentary:

   THE NEWS OF A SPIKE IN GRAIN BIN ENTRAPMENT DEATHS ON FARMS AND GRAIN FACILITIES VERIFIES WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A PREVENTABLE TRAGEDY. THE 2009 CORN CROP WENT INTO THE BINS IN SORRY CONDITION, AND THUS THE STAGE WAS SET FOR GRAIN HANDLING HEADACHES WHEN OUT-OF-CONDITION GRAIN WAS STUBBORNLY REFUSING TO FLOW EASILY THROUGH OUR BINS AND CONVEYORS. 51 INCIDENTS WITH 38 FATALITIES MADE 2010 THE DEADLIEST YEAR ON RECORD FOR SUCH ACCIDENTS.
   IT IS GROWING INCREASINGLY OBVIOUS THAT AGRICULTURE'S CASUAL ACCEPTANCE OF INJURIES AND FATALITIES ON FARMS STANDS OUT AGAINST A BACKDROP OF EVER-SAFER WORKING ENVIRONMENTS FOR ALL OTHER INDUSTRIES. IN ADDITION, AGRICULTURE REMAINS THE ONLY INDUSTRY WHERE CHILDREN ROUTINELY DIE IN THE WORKPLACE. FIVE OF THE BIN FATALITIES LAST YEAR WERE CHILDREN UNDER 16.
   WHILE I DO NOT WISH TO ADD TO THE SORROW OF THE MANY LIVES TOUCHED BY THESE TRAGEDIES, IT IS HARD NOT TO CONCLUDE WE DON'T SEEM TO BE LEARNING FROM THEM AT ALL. ON-FARM ACCIDENTS ARE APPARENTLY VIEWED AS A SAD COST OF BUSINESS, I GUESS. THE FARM COMMUNITY IS CURRENTLY RAILING ABOUT EXCESSIVE REGULATION, AND MUCH OF THE COMPLAINING IS WARRANTED. BUT IT IS OBVIOUS WE ARE CLEARLY UNDER-REGULATED WHEN IT COMES TO SAFETY. WE HAVE DEMONSTRATED A CALLOUS DISREGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE, AND LIKE OTHER INDUSTRIES, I DOUBT WE WILL CHANGE UNTIL INSPECTIONS, FINES, AND LAWSUITS FORCE US TO. OUR FARM EXEMPTION FROM OSHA IS UNJUSTIFIABLE AND SHOULD BE MODIFIED.

*VIEWER FEEDBACK:

#1:  Just turned in to the show this morning...couldn't believe my ears.  Your host wants farms more regulated when it comes to safety!  Haven't you learned yet that more government, and regulation is not the answer, and that once they get involved, they never stop until their sleeping in your house!   We don't need your host to be our Nanny, or be the self appointed Safety Evangelist to preach at us about my lack of value of human life.  Way over the mark.  Won't be watching your show anymore.  Iva Maier

#2:  I am not a farmer, but enjoy your show.  I agree that safety should probably be regulated, but as in all business, the "cheaters" always cause competitive issues. All the regulations in the world won't stop the "cheaters" from lowering costs by using underage/under trained labor.  Family Farmers who use cheap child labor (including sons/daughters, who, by the way are learning "the trade" and disciplines of working) will, as usual, pay the biggest price trying to adhere to regulations.  Big Corporations already are somewhat regulated by their own safety departments.  So, I think what you advocate is probably going to hurt the "little guy" the most.  Just an opinion.  Bob in Indio, CA. 

#3:  No thanks.  I do not want any more regulations.  This sounds more like the "nanny state" taking care of us.  We can take care of ourselves and as parents take care of and watch our children.  Just because someone from OSHA slapped a sticker on my bin, doesn't mean I'm not going to crawl into it with crusted corn.  I know this bunch in now would love nothing more than getting way more involved in our private property.  Again, no thanks John.  As the sign said, "You can't fix stupid!"  To be honest, I was more than a little shocked by your comments.  I guess for a while yet, we can still have our opinions.  Good job with the show otherwise.  Ghil R. Reese - Jerseyville, IL

#4: John, Puh-leeeeze!  (regarding your suggestion that we need OSHA on our farms)  Tell me when has more government in our lives made things better????  Bumbling bureaucrats on my farm telling me what my common sense already knows???  I think not!!!  Linda Ulrich - Laredo, MO

 

 

 

 

 

 

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