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May 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.

Lots of Weather Worries

May 31, 2011

   We were supposed to have some hot weather with just a chance of a passing shower. Last night I saw the storms in Ohio and sure enough they hit us here in the southern tier.  One inch of rain last night on already saturated ground. I do not know about Ohio but a lot of corn is usually grown here. Usually more than can be used locally and as it is so expensive to ship it we usually get it at a low price. Driving around today I saw many fields with corn stubble that had oats drilled in around large wet areas. Many fields still lakes, Some fields fitted and ready to plant, a few planted, and a very few emerging. Having been a dairy farmer I am concerned for those still in the business as if corn is short here, just as it is usually cheap because it is to expensive to ship out, it will be more expensive than in the Midwest because it will be prohibitively expensive to ship in. So instead of being 50 cheaper it could wind up being a $ more. This will hit dairy very hard!
   Now we are to have a few warm days with thunder tomorrow, then cool, 70's which will dry us out but what about heat units? They have it cool for 10 days from Friday on. Next thing
will be a debate on whether we get buried by snow in September or August. Could you possibly report on the impacts that a corn shortage in the east will have on dairy? Perhaps if the problem is identified soon enough we can petition USDA to make price adjustments. In the past they have always tended to look to close the barn door after the horse and cow have been out for days.
   Also we hear about the terrible time they are having in Texas, fences and buildings destroyed by fire and the federal government refuses to declare a disaster. Could you report on the amount of fence, buildings, crop and livestock losses and suggest ways we can help? This year we are all going to have to hang together. Think of the implications for 2012 if they have to liquidate their herds in Texas, and dairies in New York. Grain farmers could lose so much of their customer
base that prices could crash in a couple of years and leave grain farmers high and dry with high inputs, expensive land, loans resetting to high interest rates, and low prices.
John Geis
Addison, NY

Lindsay Hill Memorial

May 27, 2011

   My wife and I farm in Vermont and are great fans of your show. Two weeks ago while watching your announcement of Lindsay untimely death it hit us as if she was part of our family. Although she was new to your family we felt as though she had been there forever. This week while watching, my wife said she still could not get over how her passing had affected her then John gave his remembrance and the tears came back. I felt compelled in some way to do something to ease the hurt and did not know what until John brought up the memorial fund. What a wonderful tribute to her. So this morning I am sending in a donation and I already feel better in a small way. Our condolences to her family.   Carl & Lucy DeBisschop - Weybridge, Vermont

Lindsay Hill Memorial Fund:

Those wishing to make contributions in Lindsay’s memory may do so to:

The Lindsay Hill Memorial Fund at The Ohio State University Foundation, 1480 West Lane Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43221.
 

 

 

Do You Really Believe the USDA???

May 26, 2011

I asked what you were smoking when your experts still expect good production this year.

Perhaps you should take a ride around the eastern corn belt. Perhaps you should publish historical corn production for Indiana, Ohio, New York and North Dakota.

By giving a false sense of security you help continue programs like ethanol at a time of impending famine that might result in the loss of our freedom.

"A Hungry Man picks up a rock". Virtually every revolution had its birth in hunger. Ethanol is the equivalent of "let them eat cake".

John Geis

Addison, NY

 

Remembering Lindsay Hill

May 23, 2011

***Editor's Note:  The following comments were received following the death last Thursday of Lindsay Hill, AgriBusiness Director for U.S. Farm Report and AgDay Television...

#1:  My husband and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Ms. Hill.  We watch your show each Sunday morning here in central Maine and we were shocked to hear about her accident.  Tho Lindsay was only with your program for such a short few weeks, we would like to let you all know that we will miss her bubbly personality and beautiful smile.  She has touched us all!.  It is so sad that she has been taken from us at such an early age.  Please know that we keep her family and her co-workers in our thoughts and prayers.  Carol and Pete Metivier - Corinna, Maine

#2:  I'm not a farmer but being in Iowa with small children I'm up early so I sometimes catch parts of U.S. Farm Report before The Today Show.  I turned on the TV this morning and caught the tribute to Lindsay Hill.  I don't know if I ever caught any of her reports but her "philosophy" was beautiful and I plan to try and live by it myself.  I am very sorry for her family, friends and co-workers loss and hope that you all will use her philosophy to get through the mourning process.

#3: It was with great shock then sadness that I learned of your loss this morning. I'm sure all of us faithful viewers join together in offering you our sincerest condolences and sympathy. While I knew nothing of Lindsey's career prior to joining the Farm Journal team, it is apparent that hers was a voice that will be truly missed for all of agriculture. I was really looking forward to more great work from her, since it was obvious that she had some great ideas on how she wanted her part of the programs to be broadcast. We'll be praying for her family and all of you as you attempt to recover from this tragic event. Hers truly was a life cut much too short.  R. Kent Wagoner - Parma, ID

#4: The loss of Lindsay Hill, although her time on your staff was brief, will certainly be felt. She won an old curmudgeon like myself over the first week simply because of her competence and the knowledgeable way she interviewed and interacted with the panel in the opening segment. The tribute to her on your show this week (it airs early Sunday morning on our local station) was extremely well done. It displayed a heartfelt emotion with grace and dignity. Thanks.  Darrell Vande Hoef

 

 

#5:  My sincerest condolances to the family, friends and co-workers of Lindsay. With the short time she worked on the farm report, I was impressed with the intelligence and insight she seemed to have about the serious issues of agriculture. She came across as very personable and professional in her communication. I was looking forward to hearing her on the program for a long time to come. With the impression I got of her personality, I can only imagine how much she will be missed by those who know her best. Indeed, life is short!My regards and prayers for the family. Tom Lingbloom

 

Life in a Wind Farm

May 19, 2011

   Thank you for the information about wind farms. We live in one and life has changed.  Quite frankly, it has been somewhat of a nightmare. We have to deal with bad tv reception, flicker and loud swoshing noises at times. We could have been part of this project as they approached us about using our land but we declined because we didn't feel educated enough. They went up anyway.

   We are still trying to educate ourselves but it just keeps making us feel sicker.
Is there anyone that you know of that is fighting for the little guys affected in all this? The neighbors who have to live with this in their back yards should have voice also.
 
Sincerely,
Bernie and Rose Petrie
Malone, WI

Follow the Water

May 19, 2011

   I enjoy your program and watch it a often as I can. I found it quite interesting when John was commenting on "installing as much tile line as our banker will allow" then the next story covered the flooding downstream on the Mississippi. Does John feel that he and others higher in the watershed bear any responsibility for some of the increased flooding? I realize that the amount of runoff varies each year, but what is done in a watershed greatly impacts the rate of flow or what hydrologists call "flashiness". That "wall of water" going down the river would lower and stretched out over time if all the water holding features on the landscape were still in place.

   I am a professional forester, forest management and agriculture have similar economic and regulatory issues. As farms have increased in size and mechanization out of economic necessity, so have the loggers and timber harvesting operations.
 
Bob Hedburg
Duluth, MN

Viewers React: Chocolate Milk Ban

May 17, 2011

***Editor's Note:  The following comments were in reaction to a proposal by the Los Angeles School District to ban chocolate milk from lunchrooms...

#1:  What happened to freedom of choice? I have three boys that it if wasn't for the chocolate in the milk they wouldn't drink it.
Shannan Boykin
Abilene, TX
 
#2: John I've seen the light, parents should not be allowed to choose the milk type for their kids. The government should establish regulations for good eating habits and health. Oh by the way you wear some nice ties on the show. You know some times in the fall when coming home from church I've stopped by the farm to check on the dryer and even dumped a load of corn still warring my suit and tie that could be a bad choise. I think maybe we need a government regulation on farmers not warring tie's because everyone knows we're in a hurry and not careful around PTO shafts. After all it's for our own good, what do you think. I think people should grow up and not think Government stands for Mommy and Daddy. Thank You.
Kevin Draves
Midland, MI
 
#3:  I found the story on chocolate milk interesting today.  I about fell out of my recliner when I heard the Doctor's show recommend it yesterday. I have been a little leery of that group when they promoted for a week the bad food kids get at school last fall.  When the show came it was because the kids get "spent"  chicken.  I thought well what do they think doctors have been recommending for centuries but chicken soup, and it is generally made out of old hens, or spent chickens. Their recommendation for an after workout drink was low fat chocolate milk over water and energy drinks.
Dave Whitson
Retired County Agent
Joplin, MO

Crop Report Under Attack

May 16, 2011

***Editor's Note:  The following comments were received in response to the May 14-15, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

#1:  I have been watching reports from the flooding and for the life of me I cannot understand where you are getting your figures.  You say corn production will be up, acres will be up, yet at the same time you say 3 million acres in 3 states is under water. That 3 million acres in Louisiana is going under! These are all acres that are double cropped and I see farmers reporting their wheat and corn that was close to harvest is under water and will be for months, as are machinery, grain bins etc. I look around in NY state and see farm after farm still trying to spread manure and plow. Most fields remain unplanted.  Being an ex dairy farmer I wonder will they plow, plant corn or harvest hay? The hay will need to be cut next week! and now we are to get 1 week of rain and I wonder what you guys are smoking.  I look at the northern plains and see soil temps in the 40's and below normal heat for the next 90 days and wonder how you will get corn to germinate, let alone mature before frost. So you have reported 6 million acres in 4 states out for the year, (Double cropped so it is really 12 million acres) How many acres were lost in Ohio, Indiana, NY,Kentucky, Tenn, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa????? What are you guys smoking and where can I get some!
John Geis
Addison, NY

#2:  Let me start by stating that I am not a farmer or a conspiracy nut. I am from a farm background in the thumb area of Michigan and I admire all those who work so hard to feed the rest of us. I watched the report on Saturday as usual and with the corn report that you covered and the USDA projections for corn stocks I realized that what I had suspected may be true. I'm not a numbers man or a broker but I believe that what is going on is that the USDA i.e. the government is the inflating of the corn numbers.... because the ordinary citizen is beginning to pick up on what the government is up to in the foreign corn market.... as far as China sales are concerned. I believe that what is happening is they are trying to dispel the fear about our food supply and high prices by inflating the reserves that they say we will have, when in reality the reserves are not going to be there, but the steps to a global food distribution system will be... by blending the needs of all countries of the world into one distribution system. But to do this... much disinformation must be disseminated to the American public. It is absurd to believe that we are going to have the forward stocks when the weather is terrible and much of the 92.5 M acres will never be put to seed. What do you think? I believe that we, the American people are being sold a bill of goods...at least where the corn and wheat issues are involved. We are forfeiting our greatest leverage to the very people that will one day will make war on us, or worse yet.... buy up American held farms, and farm land.              Phillip K. Gram - Interlochen, MI

#3:  Once again I would like to emphasize the need for broader market awareness. This morning while talking weather and planting rates John Phipps made a perfectly valid comment about slow planting rates in the Eastern Corn Belt and that corn would be out of position with corn supplies in the west and short supplies in the east.  A quick glance this morning shows a spot corn bid in Indianapolis at $6.75 that is currently $0.07 under the July contract. I have no idea if that is strong or weak basis for that area. At the same time corn basis in the Panhandle of Texas is currently trading as much as $0.63 over the July. I would also remind you that the majority of the corn fed in the Panhandle area originates in the Corn Belt and arrives via the BNSF. The Panhandle region represents just under 30% of the nations fed beef supplies. Without a doubt there is strong demand for corn in the eastern US with ethanol, broiler demand in the Delmarva area and the SE pork complex but to simply assume there is not equal demand in the west is an over site. Hopefully I am not making this comment in order to pick but to bring the perspective that a broader representation of production agriculture is needed.                                        Don Close - Market Director, Texas Cattle Feeders Association

#4:   I am an avid viewer of your program and appreciate your objectivity and excellent coverage of all topics farm related.  You perform a great service (at no charge) to the U.S. farmer.  I retired from Bunge 3 years ago after a 28 year career as both a soybean plant manager and commodity trader.  I retired at the age of 55 due to my investing luck and a little skill.  Thus, my point.  I think folks in the farm community miss a great opportunity to invest, diversify and more fully take advantage of one area of expertise:  Ag Equities.   Farmers are typically at the tail end of the value chain with Ag companies as only buyers of supplies, service or equipment.  By investing in Ag companies, they can move to the other end of the value chain...a shareholder.  Ag companies are typically solid, pay dividends and have great stock price appreciation potential.  Plus, now is the easiest time in the history of the world to trade / invest in Ag equities due to the internet, ETF's (Exchange Traded Funds), and speed of information exchange via TV.  Investing in Ag equities over the past 25 years allowed me to retire and enjoy my grandkids, as well as do some consulting for Monsanto, Bunge, United Soybean Board, etc.   I am not selling anything to anyone, now or in the future.  I do write a weekly "Ag / Energy Financial Report" that I send to several friends / industry contacts for free where I look at Ag stocks that report earnings in the following week.  It is free and worth what it costs, but, lots of folks like it and it gets forwarded quite a bit.  Glad to send you a copy if interested.   Farmers should consider investing in Ag Equities.  They don't have to talk to a broker, your advertisers would love it, farmers know the market and have ideas on trends and profitability, it will help them diversify, it is less risky than farming (with minimal training), and they will gain a better understanding of Ag business.  I think the lack of coverage on U.S. Farm Report is a gap that farmers deserve to at least be exposed to.  I'd be glad to help, simply to give back to the industry that helped me clothe, house and feed my family since my days on a farm in Paoli, Indiana.  Other than 5 years on active duty in the USMC and college at Rose-Hulman and DePauw, U.S. Agriculture is all I've ever done.  I owe the industry my time and expertise...for free.  I try to be as objective and honest as John Phipps...a very good thing.   Thanks again for your excellent program.                                                                                           Gordon Denny - St. Charles, MO

 

 

Price Spikes

May 09, 2011

Dear Al and John,

   I am a country boy now living in the city and retired. I still look for good farm news. Along with the sticker shock of every day stuff, we tend to forget how much farm expenses have gone up.  The fertilizer prices you told us about now are 10 times what it was back 30 years ago, but the prices received sure have not increased in relation to prices of operating cost.  The city people sure would be raising cane if corn was $20 a bushel and beans $80.  Thank you for keeping guys like me up to date.

Dale Newhouse
Hernando, Florida

Viewers Tackle Wind Energy and Sugar Subsidies

May 03, 2011

***Editor's Note:  The following are more viewer comments received following the April 30-May 1, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

#1:  John, Your comments regarding wind energy remind me of many of the comments I've heard regarding ethanol as a renewable energy source.  While I am well aware that any new form of large-scale energy production will need some sort of government assistance to get started, the fact remains that we must start somewhere.  Any form of energy, whether it be from fossil fuels, the destruction or creation of the atom, agriculturally-produced materials, or directly from the sun itself, requires large investments of capital in the course of its discovery and implementation.  The private sector, while involved in the research process, cannot provide all the input for these kinds of massive infrastructure developments.  The problem, as I'm sure you're aware, is that we have not found effective ways of phasing out these forms of government assistance, the oil industry being a case in point.

You have stated in the past that your farm is primarily a means of harvesting solar energy.  I'm sure you would agree that the only real form of sustainable energy (at least for as long as humans can inhabit this small world) is the sun itself.  Since I'm a firm believer in the notion that a complaint without an offered solution is counterproductive at best, my question to you is this -- where would you have us start?  How much taxpayer assistance is appropriate?
 
I watch the show every week, and enjoy getting the news about a part of the country in which I grew up.  By the way, I also love your occasional comments about directing the church choir (I did a stint about 15 years ago) and Star Trek.  Not a rabid Trekkie, but I still enjoy the re-runs. Best wishes for this planting season, and stay safe!
 
Sincerely,
Kent Wagoner
Parma, Idaho

 

#2:   I just wanted to compliment you for summarizing the special privileges that are afforded a very few sugar growers by the U.S. Government.  Could you provide me with the summary in written form?  Or direct me to the source of your data. The concise delivery was spectacular and inspiring.  Please let me know,

Thanks again,
Tom Smithwick
 
***Editor's Note - the following is a transcript of John's Comments on this topic...
   TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG...I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THIS E-MAIL COMING WHEN I TOUCHED ON THE SACRED SEVEN CROPS - THOSE THAT ENJOY GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS TO ENRICH GROWERS.
 
JOHN GUDAJTES WHO APPARENTLY WORKS FOR CRYSTAL SUGAR FIRED OFF THIS OBJECTION:
"SUGAR IS NOT A SUBSIDIZED COMMODITY, IT ONLY HAS A LOAN PROGRAM THAT IS SELDOM USED, GET YOUR FACTS CORRECT"
 
JOHN, I HAVE WEARIED OF THIS NARROW DEFINITION OF A SUBSIDY, BUT IN THE MOST USUAL SENSE YOU ARE CORRECT. LET'S STOP KIDDING OURSELVES, THOUGH. GETTING A CHECK FROM THE U-S TREASURY AND HENCE U-S TAXPAYERS ON ONE HAND, AND HAVING THE U-S GOVERNMENT FORCE CONSUMERS TO SEND A CHECK IN THE FORM OF HIGHER SUGAR PRICES ON THE OTHER IS, IN MY VIEW, MERELY SHIFTING WHICH PORTION OF THE POPULATION IS BEING SHAKEN DOWN THE U-S SUGAR PROGRAM HAS FORCED AMERICANS TO PAY ROUGHLY TWICE THE WORLD PRICE FOR SUGAR FOR DECADES. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT 2 BILLION DOLLARS IN HIGHER SUGAR COSTS EVERY YEAR. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST CONCENTRATED OF ALL COMMODITY PROGRAMS WITH HALF THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS ACCRUING TO LESS THAN 20 GROWERS.  THROUGH SUPPLY CONTROLS AND TRADE CLOSES THAT PREVENT DEVELOPING NATIONS USING THEIR NATURAL COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE WE HAVE A GLARING HYPOCRISCY. IT IS STRICTLY SPEAKING NOT A SUBSIDY THOUGH, I THINK ITS SOMETHING WORSE.
 

 

 

John's Word on Weddings

May 02, 2011

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of John's commentary last weekend (April 30-May 1) on U.S. Farm Report followed by viewer reaction...

John's World:

   DESPITE THE MYRIAD URGENT AG TOPICS I COULD ADDRESS THIS MORNING, I'M GOING TO WANDER OFF THE RESERVATION TO COMMENT ON THE "WEDDING OF THE CENTURY". I CAREFULLY WATCHED ABOUT 10 MINUTES OF IT WHILE I WAS EATING BREAKFAST. WEDDINGS HAVE BECOME A FORMIDABLE INDUSTRY AND WHILE I WONDER ABOUT THE EXTRAVAGANCE, THIS IS NOT A DIATRIBE ABOUT OVERBLOWN CEREMONIES. IT IS MORE OF AN APOLOGY FROM ONE MARRIAGE VETERAN TO YOUNGER SINGLE PEOPLE. SOMEHOW WE HAVE FAILED TO BOTH EXPLAIN AND DEMONSTRATE THE POWER OF THIS ABSOLUTE COMMITMENT TO ANOTHER PERSON TO PROFOUNDLY CHANGE LIFE FOR THE BETTER. WE HAVE POKED FUN AT OLD MARRIED PEOPLE - AMONG WHICH I CERTAINLY FIT AFTER NEARLY FORTY YEARS IN THE RANKS. WE MAKE JOKES ABOUT THE MONOTONY AND LIMITATIONS OF MARRIAGE, EVEN AFTER WE HAVE LEARNED THAT HUMANS ARE ACTUALLY BE HAPPIER WITH FEWER CHOICES.  I AM AFRAID AS WELL THESE TIRED JOKES HAVE TARNISHED THE MORE ACCURATE PICTURE OF MARRIED LIFE. PERHAPS WE SIMPLY ARE EMBARRASSED TO ADMIT HOW MUCH MORE WE BECAME AFTER WE BECAME A PARTNER. SO AS THIS MARRIAGE SEASON BEGINS, I WANT TO WISH THE PARTICIPANTS WELL AS THEY BEGIN WHAT IS LITERALLY THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME. ABOVE ALL, AS I WATCHED THE SOLEMN MAJESTY OF THE SERVICE FROM WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL, I WAS REMINDED THIS DEGREE OF CEREMONY DID NOT BECOME CUSTOM BECAUSE IT WAS GOOD ECONOMICS. WE MAKE THE WEDDINGS SPECIAL BECAUSE, WITH EFFORT AND DEVOTION, THEY CAN LIFT OUR LIVES HIGHER.

Viewer Reaction:

#1:  Hi John,  I have never been a farmer but had uncles who were back in the 1950s so I remember being on the farm a few times. I do have an 8N tractor that I use to mow weeds on our 3 acres a few times each summer. But I am a retired electronic engineer and my wife and I well be married for 40 years next month.  The Farm Report is on at 5:00 AM here in Colorado Springs and we watch it every week.  We appreciate your value system that comes through on the program such as your comments on marriage this week. Your comments brought tears to me wife’s eyes.  Our marriage is truly a partnership that has gotten better through the years especially since we semi-retired and moved from California to Colorado.  We enjoy Baxter Black every other week because of his down to earth, folksy, solid values.  And we like the country church salute every week.  Do you have any idea of what percentage of farmers attend church on a regular basis?  We would hope that it would be higher than the national average which isn’t too good.  We wish your program all the best for many more good years of reporting on the status of farming and ranching.  We have learned so much about farming and world wide economics by watching the Farm Report. Keep up the good work. 

Dave and Lindy Powell

#2:  Just a note to say the commentary on marriage was just awesome.  Wish everyone in the world could’ve heard it.  Thanks so much. Nancy Harris, Madison, FL 
 
 

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