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February 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.

Viewers Speak: Liberal Kool-Aid, Vegans & Farm Safety

Feb 25, 2013

***Editor’s Note:  The following viewer comments were received following the February 16-17, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report:

#1:  It has been a week since I heard your reply to one of your viewers accusing you of drinking the Obama/Democrat Kool-Aid.  I have never sent an E-mail to anyone like this, but here it goes.  Instead of replying to the individual’s comments, and the meaning/intent of the individual’s comments, you elected to become insulted and ultimately a victim through the dialogue of your wife and yourself, subsequently your valuable air time was consumed by relating to the ultimate meaning of Kool-Aid (which is way off track), as opposed to the agricultural commentary provided to you at hand.   I have to admit, this is a typical technique of the liberals to become defensive, insulted and a victim.  It appears that your response ultimately confirms the original writer’s opinion.
Larry Talbott

#2:  Ellen DeGeneres implies that if everyone would become vegans, the world would be a better place.  Although I find her very entertaining, my guess is that if the world went vegan, a lot of people would starve.  Are there studies showing what would happen?
Thanks – Laurie Ross

#3:  Today I watched your report on a catfish farm in Texas I believe it was the Bower Family. You showed a young mother handing her toddler up to the dad who was sitting in a piece of farm equipment.  You hear on a regular basis of a young child being ran over and killed by farm equipment. I farm in Moore Idaho and my grandchildren think my tractors are the coolest thing on earth. They are not allowed in or around a piece of equipment that is running. The oldest is 10 years old, he is still a few years away from being able to operate equipment. Please speak out on this issue and not show this practice on television any more.  A Concerned viewer.
Lenard Van Eps – Moore, ID

#4:  I am curious.  If Monsanto wins the Supreme Court ruling, that means they own and therefore control their genetic material in the Universe (grain elevator).  Roundup Ready tolerant weeds are created by the same technology that isolated the Roundup Ready Soybeans.  That means Monsanto owns the weeds also.  (Weeds are located in the universe).   I am considering a new seed business.  You send me a weed seed sample, a DNA test is performed so a lawsuit can be filed to recover damages from Monsanto's Technology.  Also, does this establish Roundup Ready Weeds as an agricultural crop so the land grant colleges are required maintain a seed bank specimen as required by law.  Are Farmers liable for volunteer soybeans growing in their fields after harvest?  Lawyers could label this "involuntary seed saving" and seek damages paid to Monsanto.  I cannot understand how Monsanto and lawyers are thinking so little into the future.  You would well serve agriculture to provide information on your TV program to inspire thinking.  Harry Wallace - Galva, IL
   
  


 

Viewers React to John's Comments

Feb 18, 2013

#1:
In last week’s (February 9) commentary about the economy and budgets I find it interesting that you did not use the word ‘spending’.  And in not identifying the budget, whether on the national or individual level, for what it really is – a planning guide for expenditures, your argument becomes irrelevant.  It doesn’t make any difference if the U.S. budget is not like a household budget: different working life-spans, varying its income, the way it pays debt.  (I would argue these are attributes that make it similar to a household budget)  The bottom line is it spends more money than it takes in and therefore creates debt. 

You state, “To be sure we have a serious long-term debt problem” and I agree.  But national debt is not mystifying and is easily understood by equating it to a household budget – when the outgo exceeds the income, debt is going to be created resulting in major economic problems, period! 

I also disagree with your comment about controlling health care costs resulting in our economic future looking promising.  Even if health care costs were to be controlled we will still be spending more than we take in.  And that means more debt and an economic future that is anything but promising. 

Dave Sauers

#2:
Dear John,
I am far from a regular viewer of your show -- it comes on before the news on Saturday, so I leave it on.   I do live in rural Ohio (Perry Township, Wood County, OH - south of Toledo) and my father had the soul of a farmer (raised on a farm and became a mechanical engineer -- but then what would a boy who spent his time in the machinery shed do?) so I understand how farmers are proud of their tractors and like to rehab old ones (but you wouldn't catch me doing that).

However, I was quite impressed with your effort to see variable viewpoints and I was quite impressed with your rejection of the "Kool-Aid" argument.  That argument resembles the "Holocaust" argument (Palestinians rights are important to me) in that it dismisses the other party's thoughts as ridiculous and irrational. We need to discuss solutions in a solemn, sincere fashion, respecting the thoughts of others.  That does not mean you have to agree, but perhaps we can both win by finding common solutions.

You have given me some ideas on how to work with those who ridicule my ideas.  Thank you for your courageous example.

Jo Hollingsworth
Fostoria, OH
***I am now off to church -- a theme in common with your show…

#3:
Dear Mr Phipps,
I’m not the kind of person to tune into a program about farming.  I am concerned about “agri-business” and it’s long term effects on our environment and food supply.
But a year or so ago, I tuned into the station that carries your program a few minutes before the beginning of the Today Show and heard your Mailbag reply to a listener.  I don’t remember the content of the letter or your reply....I just remember how blown away I was to hear someone espousing views that seemed to me to be “common sense”.  I suspected it was a fluke or I was not listening closely enough to hear the subliminal message hidden in your reply that would pledge undying, patriotic support to the cause of “agri-business”.....so I tuned in again the next week.  Just in time to hear the Mailbag.

I was stunned....and hooked.  Now I am a fairly regular listener to that portion of your show. 
Your intelligence and humanity and wit is admirable, especially when I hear the relentless attacks by your listeners.  All I can say is.  Thank God you are there, a clear voice of reason and dignity.   I sometimes feel like there is no hope for the future of small, sustainable farms that don’t pollute and poison in the face of the Cargill and ADM and those who are killing us softly in the name of “feeding the world” (translated: corn syrup and feed corn).....  But then I think of you, and dig deep for the sense that if one person of your stature can still see what’s true and right.  Then, just maybe the rest of them will come to their senses before it’s too late.

I’m grateful.  So grateful, that you are there.  Your voice is important.  Even if it seems like no one is listening.  I am.  And it gives me hope.

Many thanks
Sherry Staub
Davenport, IA

 

Viewers React: The Fed & "Sovereign Debt"

Feb 13, 2013

***The following comments were received in response to the February 9-10, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

#1:  Dear John,
You missed the major point of how our Republic is able to run chronic deficits as we have been doing for the last century.  The key event of 1913 was the turning over the supply of money over to the Federal Reserve Banks.  This was an unconstitutional act of Congress.  [Article I, Section 8 (Powers of the Congress), paragraph 5. To coin money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standards of Weights and Measures;] 
Prices were fairly constant from the beginning of our Republic until 1913.  There was a statuary value of and ratio between gold and silver.  Since Nixon totally separated the value of our money from gold, discipline in spending by the government has been removed.  When I was younger one had silver certificates in his wallet from time to time which could be redeemed in silver.  Something like 97% of the value of a dollar has disappeared in the last century.  When one looks at inflation, it had been on a fairly consistent slope from 1913 until the last two years of the second term of Bush #43.  Since then it has been on an asymptotical climb.  It does not take a Ph.D.in economics to figure out that this is unsustainable.  History verifies this statement.  It happened to the Romans.  It happened to Germany following WWI.  It happened to England after WWII.  We will lose the position of owning the world's reserve currency soon.  That will be a disaster for our savings.
You, as a journalist, have a responsibility to be familiar with a topic that you speak about.  As the host of a program with an audience of capable, influential people, you also have an opportunity to get the word out as to the disastrous situation our money is in.  One third of our national debt has been racked up in the last 5 years.  That alone should get your attention.  You and I have a hard time getting our minds around a billion dollars.  A trillion is a thousand billion and we are running deficits in excess of a trillion dollars per year.
You do have one problem though.  If you were to familiarize yourself with the financial mess we are in and talk about it on a program such as you have, you would not last long in your job there.  The same people who have gotten us into this mess own the stations you broadcast on!
This puts things into a much better perspective as to the present economic situation:
Lesson # 1:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $ 2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $ 3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000
Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:
* Annual family income: $ 21,700.00
* Money the family spent: $ 38,200.00
* New debt on the credit card: $ 16,500.00
* Outstanding balance on credit card: $142,710.00 
* Total budget cuts so far: $ 38.50
Got It ?????
David Snider - Minier, IL

#2:  Perhaps the reason that we question those making the decisions is that they have been so spectacularly wrong so far:

“We do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy or to the financial system.” — Ben Bernanke, 2007

“The Federal Reserve will not monetize the debt.” — Ben Bernanke, 2009

As for the latter, the Fed is even now creating over 80 billion dollars a month out of thin air!
I know we all make mistakes*, but when you get it completely wrong, isn't it time to rethink your premise?  But then there's always an excuse...
-Brad McDouall

#3:  Sovereign-Debt is not really Debt. (Paraphrasing)   John, you really drank the Fed’s cool-aid. Sovereignty may give a country the opportunity to create a fiat currency however later when it falters, and it will, prop it up from time to with tricks like monetizing and inflation to maintain some arbitrary value. But sooner or later the “free lunch” that gives you a warm-fuzzy will make the dollar not all that desirable.
Brad Dougan - Little Rock, AR
***Editor’s Note:  Below is a transcript of John’s comments that sparked this viewer feedback…

Last week I talked about a survey that showed stunned economists how farm public understanding and theirs diverged on economic issues.  One reason this occurs is we are all economic actors and we use our own experience in the market to form our understanding, regardless of economic theory or even real data to the contrary.
No issue shows this habit more than our understanding of the national debt.  Sovereign debt as it is called is complex and with growing global inter-linkages, becomes more counter-intuitive every day.  Our minds take a short-cut by finding parallels with economic models we understand, like household finances to try to understand.  “I have to balance my budget, so the country should too”, we assert logically.  But is the U.S. budget really like a household budget?  Maybe, but there are whopping differences.
First of all, the U.S. has a working lifetime of essentially forever.  The government cannot lose its job, and can even fix its income by varying taxes.  But the biggest difference is we can pay off debts with IOU’s called bonds that people around the world eagerly take.  Those enormous differences are why national debt mystifies us, and why low interest rates and inflation confound our predictions.
To be sure we have a serious long-term debt problem, but it cannot be understood by equating it to a household budget.  In fact, once we get serious about how to control health care costs, our economic future looks promising.
 

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