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January 2013 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.

Who do I believe?

Jan 28, 2013

   While watching your show today (1-26-2013), you had some market report people on and they said the drought has shrunk and is only in pockets in the west.  Then in the next segment you showed the drought monitor and it showed the opposite.  I use your show to make decisions for my farm operation because I believe you guys are actually on top of the farm game more so than USDA.  In Pennsylvania we had record crops in 2012 (we made money), so who do we believe!  How bad is the drought out west?  In the east we don’t set crop prices like the west does. I guess I’m just confused because there are no solid answers and I’m trying to decide whether or not to contract corn at $5.80 and beans at $12 or wait for you guys to say we didn’t get rain and it all goes crazy again.
     I do enjoy your show ... doesn’t cover the small farmer much but 400 acres in my area is big. Farming in Pennsylvania is a different world than the west…a 50 acre field is huge. Thanks for your show, and let’s try to lock these guys into some straight direct answers not a shot in the dark! I can do that myself.
Thomas Dunchack II   
Pennsylvania Crop Farmer


A Viewer Responds: The "SNAP" Debate

Jan 22, 2013

Your comments this morning about rural folks receiving more SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits than urban folks really got me thinking and I said to myself there is no way that comment was true since populations in urban areas far exceed those in the rural areas (never more evident than in recent elections) - so I did some checking and found that there is not one Midwest state in the top ten states by participation rates, in fact Arkansas enters in at #13. But those figures were by state so I looked into it some more and found that over 14% of our rural population receives food stamps compared to just under 11% of our urban neighbors making John's statement slightly true. But when you delve into those numbers you realize that the urban population is over four times that of the populations in the rural areas which means there are far more urban folks receive SNAP benefits that rural folks (over four times more). This reminded me that anyone can take "so called facts" and twist them to present their point of view as factual. So although what John stated was basically true the real numbers reveal that there are four times more city folks using food stamps than country folks! However I do enjoy your show especially the tractor/church shows along with Baxter Black's humor but I do wish John was not such a liberal announcer - he seems to make at least one controversial remark during each show. I'd like to hear more from Al Pell instead. Thanks, Bob Simcox US Army Retired and currently still-working-American who is not on SNAP Small Town Rural America 

***Editor’s Note: Below are John’s comments from the Mailbag segment regarding “SNAP” that aired on the January 19-20, 2013...  

Last week during the news we had a report about the growing cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP – which used to be called food stamps. The video we used to illustrate the story was of shoppers checking out using SNAP cards. While the video was essentially accurate, the shoppers were all African American. During the week I did some research and discovered such images may inadvertently perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes. The most likely SNAP recipient is not an adult African American – it is a white child under 18. Children receive just under 50% of all benefits. Whites account for 43%, African Americans 33%, and Hispanics 19%. The growth in the program cost is largely due to growth in those eligible – a result of recession and wage stagnation. Even so the cost could be much higher as only about ¾ of those who qualify participate in the program. Only 10% of SNAP recipients receive cash welfare payments, and the average duration of benefits is 9 months. But most surprising to me was that in the last few years rural use of SNAP has exceeded urban participation rates – the percentage of those eligible who sign up. These numbers and images matter because this year the ag budget will be fiercely debated between ag programs and food assistance. When farmers realize SNAP cutbacks will impact kids in their local school, not just adults in a city, they might decide to split those dollars differently.

Viewers React to John's Commentary on NASS & the Ag Census

Jan 14, 2013

#1:  I wanted to wait until now for your "Part 2" of comments on your refusal to participate in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.  It's not often that I disagree with you, but in this case, I believe you have missed the mark.  While I understand, and to a certain degree agree with, your reasoning, it seems rather defeatist in nature to simply not participate based on little more than your perception of what is happening at NASS.  I equate this roughly with choosing not to vote simply because one does not like any of the candidates.  When we don't take an active role in the process, those in charge assume that we are okay with whatever they choose to do.  This is already happening in the case of federal elections.  In the case of agriculture statistics, this means that, as you suggested, aggregate data will move from being the property of the people to being the property of only those who can pay for it.  I strongly believe that this is precisely the wrong direction for those of us in agriculture to allow, as it is the beginning of loss of freedom to choose how we grow the food for this nation.  Rather than throwing in the towel, we should be jumping further into the fray by pushing our legislators to alter NASS's enabling legislation, if that's the real problem.
   I also have a problem with a side note of your mailbag comments last week.  I applaud your rebuttal to the viewer(s) who have accused us of poisoning the earth, contaminating the environment, and in general causing every problem shy of the apocalypse, but you finished by suggesting that changing opinion only happens "one funeral at a time."  Again as before, I submit that this is a defeatist attitude which I do not care to leave as part of my legacy to those who follow.  Your comments are the antithesis of a set of convictions which I have been developing over the last several months which have led me to generate a series of educational presentations which I plan to begin taking to the general public over the next several months. 

   I understand that sometimes it seems as though we are knocking our heads against the proverbial brick wall trying to educate a public which has become so used to the kind of negative news purveyed by mainstream media that they have lost the ability of critical thinking when it comes to the kind of garbage put forth in the blogosphere.  The LFTB mess is a prime example of what I'm talking about.  It seems that all it takes is one person to formulate an opinion ("I have my opinion; don't bother me with facts") and thousands, if not millions, are willing to accept it as gospel simply because it has the air of authority.

   So to conclude, I choose to reject your defeatist attitude because I believe change can, and sometimes DOES, in fact, happen.  But it CANNOT happen without someone making the attempt.  If we don't, then who will?  Sincerely, Kent Wagoner - Parma, Idaho
#2: Wouldn’t it be great fun to just “make up” numbers to put on the census forms?  Oh, I guess I already do that…Nelson Farms

#3: Hello, I found it interesting that someone would basically call farmers lazy boozers who are out to poison us. I am not a farmer {just a benefactor of their efforts} but have worked on farms in the long past. It must be said that the world population is growing at a fast rate and farmers need to keep up with the ever growing need for more and more food products. I'm sure millions of dollars are spent annually to assure the safety of chemicals that are used in the agricultural industry. I think I have a solution for those folks who feel like farmers are too lazy to do their work. I would suggest those people boycott the farming industry for two weeks and not eat or drink anything that is a product directly or indirectly from a farmer and as an added benefit if you are currently on a weight loss program this step will undoubtedly help in that endeavor. Farmers, keep up the good work!  Thank You, Burt Anderson



NEW! Lots of Viewer Feedback to Share

Jan 08, 2013

***Editor’s Note:  The following comments were received following the January 5-6, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

Viewers respond to John’s comments on the Ag Census:
#1:  I have long enjoyed John Phipps reports, common sense, practical solutions. Total agreement about the census taking. These people already have this information, at your local FSA office. Acres are certified, wheat, barley, CRP. One government entity realizes this, the IRS! Perhaps this is a place to help balance the budget, do away with this bueauracy, if they can't interpert available information, why have them? I am retired, farmed dry land wheat in the Columbia Basin 48 years, summer fallow rotation. Times are changing, I have picture of my dad at 13 years old, driving 27 horses pulling a combined harvester, (ground powered). I have 60 years of experience driving tractor, yet my daughter in law drives just as good as I do. GPS auto steer, auto boom on sprayer. Tom Eakin

#2: I agree, John. I have always thought it bassackwards that we in production agriculture are expected to play the game with all our cards showing!! Dick House - Arthur, IL

#3: Three cheers to you, John!  Enabling USDA gains nothing but a continuation of poor performance and perpetuation of bureaucratic inefficiency. And, when will farmers get the message that the government programs serve to keep food prices low.  Is it not amazing that there was talk of $7-$8 milk without a dairy program in the farm bill?  Be it anti-terrorism or farm programs, we pay a dear price when we sell out for security. Keep up the good work.  Charlie Fox – Wheeling, WV

#4: THANK YOU!!!!  I was thrilled to see someone as yourself also received a census questionnaire.  If I had known the fine for not sending it was only $100, I might have considered paying it to prove my point....I feel they are useless and a severe waste of money.  I received one now two years in a row.  I refused to return it last year and they sent me a second form and to get rid of the threatening phone calls to my house I returned it rather than go to jail.  I again received one this year.  I ask people of my church if anyone else had received one of these forms and no one had ever seen one.  I started getting the threatening calls again.  They have someone call that can't even speak English and by the time I got tired of asking her to repeat what she said so I could understand her.  I told her to go ahead and send someone to my home and pick me up as I could enjoy a break from house cleaning and cooking for 3 Hots and a Cot.  She didn't find it amusing and I ask to speak to her supervisor or a phone number so I could call and threaten them during their Saturday....not possible.  The questions on the form are about the same that are on our tax form.  I pay my taxes and feel the gov't has the same information on both forms.  Our gov't cannot balance a budget and I can see why.  They have nothing better to do than ask questions of someone who is honest enough to pay their taxes and they have money to waste in mailing these forms.  I should have taken the form to the post office and had it I again received not one but two of these forms again this year.  Thank you for posting your comment as I felt better to know you also received one and feel the same as I do. Keep up the show.  I can't wait to get up on Saturday and grab that cup of coffee and watch your show.  If my antenna messes up to the tv I am not able to get the show my entire week is off.  I have a friend that has about 20 tractors in his pole barn that he and his grandson have.  They use their tractors, collect them and do tractor pulls as a family.  I think tractors are an American sign of what used to be....hard work and dedication that America used to have...God bless our farmers.
Nancy Mowers
Ocqueoc, MI  

Viewers on Conventional vs. Organic Production Practices

#1: Whether using Organic or Conventional methods, we should have a common goal for Environmentalism, Sustainability and Food Security. Most farmers feel Organic methods are a scam, but have you done the research? Kae Yowell

#2: In a response to a comment in this weeks 'mailbag', John stated "industrial farmers like myself do not spray poisons and we have overwhelming proof of this".  Please consider your "proof".  To my knowledge, which is extensive, there has never been a study determining the safety - long term - of any of the things that you spray.  In fact, the things you spray have huge warnings cautioning against the short term and long term effects of improper usage.  Some are even labeled "poison".  All have references to the poison control center.  There have been studies done calling into question the "safety" of the things you spray.  The studies done concluding their safety are, at best, short sighted.  Perhaps, it is the word 'safety' that has been mitigated.  If it's safe, than a toddler could play in it.  But that's not your definition.  Your definition seems to be - "they say it's okay and even though I have to wear protective gear and not spray when it's windy and I can't let my kids, pets, or livestock near it.  It's safe.  As long as too much of it doesn't get in one spot, or on me.  Safe.  Even though enough evidence has been amassed for other countries to ban some of these things, those other countries are dumb, it's safe."  I realize my comments will more than likely never see your show, but that's not the point.  The point is to get you, John, to look outside your own box.  People create boxes for their own safety, but you are on national TV, your safety should not be your concern on TV.  I understand to whom your show speaks.  I would suggest that you simply avoid broadcasting issues that require you to take a side of an argument when taking a side either makes you appear ignorant or involves alienating your entire audience.  If you really believe what you said, you must not be investigating the issue with all of your points in hand.  Thanks for listening.  Yvonne

Other Feedback:
#1: The above noted subject line (Beekeepers are farmers too) basically states my opinion. While I try to catch your program every Sunday morning (broadcast in my area at 7 a.m.) I have yet to see a segment on the plight of the American beekeeper. I even went into your archive and couldn't pull up but a few posts from 2009. I am a side-liner who sells honey at my local farmer's market and not a large full time commercial operator. If the dairy industry, pork industry and cattle industry lost 30-35% of their herds each year you folks would be all over that story. The same with a 35% annual drop in good old corn and wheat production. I have the same problem here in Wisconsin: if it's not black and white and says moo nobody is interested. Climate change is here; beekeepers are good weather watchers, and along with declining honeybee populations plant pollination looks a bit grim. Honeybees pollinate a huge number of both fruits and agricultural plants (think alfalfa). The next time you bite into an apple take a moment to consider the beekeeper who helped make it. You notice I didn't blast Monsanto, or any of your other sponsors?  Bob Martin - Superior, WI

#2:  On your most recent U.S. Farm Report episode I found it interesting to listen to the reasons for the decline in exports of U.S. products. While there were some potentially valid reasons given I was wondering if the dependence on genetically modified crops has some impact on international exports. I found it interesting to learn that many countries are reluctant to introduce GM crops into their internal agriculture. Could this reliance in the U.S. on GM products be a potential problem for exports?  Mark

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