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April 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: Price-Setting, Tillage Types and John's Salary

Apr 29, 2013

***Editor’s Note: The following viewer reaction is in response to the April 27-28, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

#1: This is in response to your comments on farmers setting their own prices. It is evident from your comments that you are a crop farmer and not a livestock or dairy farmer. Not once in my 20 years of farming have I been able to go to the livestock sale barn or to the milk plant and tell them I want x amount for my product. We take what we get and go on about our business. Livestock farming, like crop farming, has the advantage of being able to hold their product until prices are "right" for selling. However, dairy farming, there is no holding product. You sell no matter what the price/cwt. As for other big business, they do set their own prices as well, they figure what they have in a product and then inflate the end price to the consumer several times, thus they are then able to give rebates, cash back, discounts, etc. Most of the time I would say they are still recouping the money they have invested in that product.  —Michelle Wright, Wright Dairy, Cabool, Mo.

#2: Hello John, I have farmed 950 acres in north central Oklahoma for 13 years…been no tilling for the last 3 years. The first ten years I watched flash floods cut and erode my topsoil away. In 2009 it started raining in September (wheat planting time) and ended late October. By the time I was finished fixing broken terraces and pulling the soil out of the creeks it was November. Luckily, I got it all planted before the insurance due date on December 1st. That was my first reality check. Tillage destroys organic matter and soil structure. When the soil temperature hits 100 degrees the soil life that holds our soils together starts to die. Six months ago was the second big reality check. I was the first farmer in my town to get a row crop field test on my farms. Scientists say when your soil organic matter (s.o.m.) gets below 1.7% it is classified as pre desert, below 1.0% s.o.m. is desert. I have farms that are less than 1% and a couple around 0.5%. S.o.m. is the most important and neglected part of farming. What I have learned: 1. It will take 10 to 20 years to get back above the pre-desert classification. Slow process. It is easier to save the soil than it build it back. 2. I will never know it all. Not even the smartest soil scientist knows every aspect of the soil. What happens in the soil is truly God’s gift to the world (that 99% of the world does not care about. But they should). Soil organic matter is what makes soil more or less productive than another. It holds water and nutrients from leaching and evaporating. Hold and cleans the chemicals and fertilizers before entering the streams and ground water. My backyard has never been tilled or over-grazed. The s.o.m. test came back at 4.8%. I am 35 years old now. I could live two lifetimes and never increase my fields back to what they were. But my friend has been rotational no tilling for 7 years. He had 82 bushel per acre wheat field last year. His field s.o.m. was 1.4%. The Oklahoma average is less than 30 bushel. And I don't think it coincidental that the s.o.m. and the red on the drought monitor map coincide. Farmers who have lots of s.o.m. take it for granted when it rains but will know what I am talking about when it is almost gone and dries out again. Thank you and your crew for what you do. Keep learning and teaching. We are listening.  —Chris Kroll

#3: John, It seems that the best tillage type, from what I’ve seen is strip till. You can also do banded fertilizer to get the nutrients just where you need them.  —Les Odgers, Arizona

#4: Love the show, I watch it every week. I wanted to thank you for the piece on the Auburn Oaks. It means a lot to students, alumni and fans to be featured on your show.  —Gregory Resmondo, Auburn University '14

#5: I watch U.S. Farm Report every week and pay attention to John Phipps and Mike Hoffman, meteorologist. I like the new graphics that Mike Hoffman used today. I also like the Al Pell segment on market conditions, but I am still learning the jargon. John Phipps is the best—double his salary!  —Ann Morrison, St. Louis, Mo.


Viewers Speak: GMO's, Subsidies, and YouTube Favorites

Apr 23, 2013

***The following comments were received following the April 20-21, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

#1:  I saw the program in the last 2 weeks where John Phipps address concerns of GMO corn and explained that this not the first time he has addressed these concerns.  I know that farming is a life for Mr. Phipps, but it is only time that enough info will surface to the public about the dangers of the GMO crops and also the fact that many countries will not buy our export grain crops.  I provide another story in this link:  I have eliminated just about all GMO products from diet and have not only lost weight, but I feel better than I have in years.   Wayne

#2:   Hello, I watch your channel (rfdtv) from time to time and find it very interesting. I am a biologist, environmental engineer, farmer, problem solver, vegan and animal rights activist. I also grew up in a small farming community. I choose a vegan lifestyle because i am very concerned about animal welfare, the environmental impacts of animal agriculture and see the numerous benefits of a plant based diet and wish to stay as healthy as possible. I am not writing or would never in any way insinuate that all farmers are abuse animals or are destroying the environment. I know many people are choosing a plant based diet for the reasons given above and would like to offer some comments from that perspective. I feel that we are in a very tough situation currently but one, that if handled correctly, could be very helpful and change the course of history. I see the new ag gag legislation as something that has to happen so that farmers and animal rights activists can come together and find a solution (more open communication, the elimination of any animal abuse, and industry wide repercussions if it is identified). I also see a huge market for vegan products and faux meats for people that choose to not eat animals for ethical or other reasons. I believe this is a good industry (vegan products) for the farmers of America to look into and possibly start to capitalize on. In fact, Bill Gates recently came out and said that vegan meats and other non-animal based products are the way of the future. They can be more nutritious, easier on the environment and we can possibly feed the growing population of the world with less if we can find ways to more efficiently and compassionately grow food products. Please read this article for further evidence as to why conversion to a more plant based diet will be so crucial for the future:
Thank you so much for your time.  Sarah Eastin

#3:   John, your comments about crop insurance reflect the attitude of someone who never experienced $2.00 corn during back-to-back droughts without crop insurance.  Fred Lundgren - Katy Texas

#4:   In response to your reply about farm subsidies last week, I don't really believe that "we own congress", that's a designation I reserve for banks, insurance, and oil companies.  I think that the farm subsidy issue will never go away as it is the only means the government has to force farmers to report everything we have and do in order to control farm commodity prices. The USDA is constantly coming out with some kind of farm commodity report that everyone knows are bald-faced lies, but still the brokers trade on the lies--usually downward in price. The second reason and in answer to Dan's question is farmers are the only businesses in this country who cannot set our own products prices, we can't figure our production cost and then double the price of our product as other businesses do, which alludes back to reason one==USDA CONTROL.  I personally would love to see the USDA disbanded and return to a real, fair market for all. Our country has long held a "cheap food" policy. Sure, we're bringing in many more dollars than ever before, but look at our expenses. We are handling more money which throws us into a higher tax bracket with far less purchasing power.
    To your "weatherman":  How can just a couple of decent rains improve our exceptional drought status so drastically?  We have not had "normal precipitation" since July 2011. The yearly total for 2011 may look normal but the moisture was all in the first half of the year, and most of our subsoil moisture was depleted before the 2012 drought hit.  It will take way more than a few good rains to replenish our subsoil moisture. We will need timely rains all through our growing season to get a reasonable crop this year.
Ivan Salmons - Pilger NE

#5:  John, I was deeply moved by your points made about what needs to be done for agriculture and the people of Africa.  Indeed, I dare say a team of 'doctors of sociology' should take up your well thought out points and create a blueprint to implement for all countries on every continent including the United States.  So often, Africa is described as the "Third World", and through the centuries, many attempts have been made to colonize and bring 'civilization' to the continent.  To explain: With the upheaval of subsistence farmers by the millions to the cities in China and the contrast of the United States of millions of people being displaced out of the workforce and with millions of people migrating from Africa, the Middle East, and Mexico and other countries all over the world to Europe and the Americas, it seems the whole world has 'Third World' problems.  The points you make about your trip to Africa would be a great start to truly bring 'civilization' to a world that is sorely needed everywhere.   Humankind became 'civilized' when agriculture was learned.
Very truly yours,
Steve Wisniewski

#6:  Paul Harvey’s Super Bowl ad was great, But did anyone see the Liberal Parody of it posted since then?  Much better…..........but GOD should have stopped with the farmer..........
God Bless the Farmers.  And here it is for those few, that have not heard it, Paul Harvey’s Super Bowl ad, SO GOD MADE A FARMER,

Viewers Speak: Crop Insurance, Land Values & GMO's

Apr 16, 2013

***Editor’s Note:  The following viewer comments were received in response to the April 13-14, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…
#1:  While I agree with your answer to the crop insurance subsidy I think that one point was missed. In my opinion all farm subsidies exist for one reason including the insurance subsidy:  The "Cheap Food Policy".  Our government has maintained this policy since the 1930's. The typical US citizen spends less than 10 percent of the income on food staples. A country with a full belly is more productive and less likely to revolt against the government. In a way it's a socialist program. Thats my point I hope it has some merit.  Christopher Toalson

#2:  I believe I heard "North Dakota Land Values up 42%" on this weekend’s show. I did not have my hearing aids in at the time, I believe that John said something about a value of $5,600 per acre. Please what was reported? Is that a statewide average or just selected eastern ND counties that are now produce corn and beans and virtually little to no wheat? Dan Treinen
#3:  John, your national platform should have turned into a trapdoor when you abused the truth about GMO's with that flippant $4.00 corn remark. Fred Lundgren - Katy, TX
#4:  Dear John, my husband and I are fans of the show and were just wondering your stance on this very subject, however, after seeing your commentary last week, we figured you have not seen this video:
I hope this enlightens you to the dangers of GM or GE food.  Love U.S. Farm Report!
Mike and Jennifer Anderson - Central New York

Viewers Speak: Crop Insurance, Wealth & Interest Rates

Apr 10, 2013

***Editor’s Note:  Below is viewer feedback in response to the April 6-7, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report:
#1:  First, let me clarify that I fully support and see the need for crop insurance.  Farmers need a way to manage the inherent risks of their business.  As a taxpayer and part-time farmer, what I don’t support is the taxpayer subsidizing crop insurance.  I understood the fact the taxpayer subsidizes 61% of the premium.  What I recently read is the administrative costs are also subsidized, bringing the total subsidy to 80% of the total cost of the insurance program.  If farmers were struggling to stay in business and the U.S. was concerned fields will go unplanted, I could possibly see it.  We need a stable food supply.  The reality is, farmers are making good money.  The insurance subsidies are simply showing up in the form of skyrocketing land prices.   Just last Sunday, it was stated on US Farm Report there have been reported land sales over $16,000/acre in Illinois.  Why is the taxpayer picking up 80% of the cost of crop insurance only to see the farmer use the savings to pay ever higher prices for land rent and/or farmland purchases?   Farmers should be responsible for the costs associated with running their business, just like everyone else.  Dan Lickteig
#2:  Which is worse for America strategically?  1. The transfer of wealth creation to non-U.S. areas (outsourcing production, free-market capitalism).  2. The transfer of wealth to non-U.S. areas (Afghanistan, Egypt, world socialism).  3. The transfer of wealth within the U.S. (welfare, unemployment payments, large salaries for government workers milking easy jobs, gambling, food stamps, etc.).  4. Or wealth creation within the U.S. (American workers paying taxes)?   Stan Eads - Winton, CA
#3:  I agree with your view that the Fed is not the reason for low, long-term interest rates worldwide. I also agree that rants knocking the economy are harmful. The economy is fragile and talking it down can only hurt it. Although the debt overhang is subsiding and jobs are being added, I believe long-term interest rates will continue low for a long, long time due to demand destruction.  But here's an upbeat post on the economy: - Secret offshore bank accounts are being kicked open with fines, back taxes and jail time waiting for the owners.  Reuben Espinosa - Denver
***Editor’s Note:  Below is a transcript of John’s commentary concerning interest rate:
With very little notice compared to the excitement in the stock market, bond prices are indicating a contrasting view of the future.  Interest rates are sinking back toward historic lows made last year, despite continued warnings about both inflation and higher rates.  Much of the credit or blame has been placed on the Federal Reserve and its policy of quantitative easing.  While inaccurately called “printing money”, the Fed has been increasing the money supply aggressively.  The problem with this explanation is two-fold.  First, interest rates are low all around the world – not just in the U.S.  Second, while economists widely agree the Fed can influence short-term rates, they have little effect on long term rates.  Right now, 30-year bonds carry a return of a little over 3%.  This tells us people – NOT the Fed – think rates could be low for a generation.  I favor another influence – the savings glut – or as I call it the wealth problem.  New reports leaked to an Australian newspaper illustrate one facet of this phenomenon – immense deposits hiding unreported to government taxing bodies in shady banks in out-of-the-way places.  The amount of unaccounted-for wealth is likely in the tens of trillions.  The more doomsayers warn of financial panic, the more willing savers are to accept pitiful returns on their money.  With apocalyptic rants making headlines daily, I think our six-year-string of historically low interest rates is likely to continue.

John on GMO's - Viewers Respond

Apr 08, 2013

  ***Editor’s Note:  Below is a transcript of John’s Mailbag from the April 6-7, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report, followed by a number of viewer comments…

   Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag.  We get occasional comments like this, so I will take up the topic once more:  “How long are you going to continue to push Monsanto’s poison GMO food on the American people for the sake of money?” P.J. Thompson.  First let me reassure you, GMO foods are not poison.  As I have said before, if there were even the slightest hint they were harmful there would be commercials for law firms soliciting GMO consumers for litigation like unfortunate mesothelioma victims.  When it comes to blame, where’s there’s smoke there’s an attorney.  Of course, the less cynical view is there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that our bodies react to GMO foods differently than non-GMO.  We now have almost two decades of real-world data to back that up.  However, I am actually less enthusiastic about GMO technology than I was a few years ago.  The reasons are mundane…the cost-benefit ratio.  We farmers have seriously degraded some traits like glyphosate resistance by failing to think more than one year ahead.  In fact, many seed traits now are worth less simply because nature has evolved responses.  There is also a growing suspicion in the fields that traits don’t just add positive attributes to plants, but can introduce hidden weaknesses under certain conditions.  They are not silver bullets – they’re just priced like them.  Consequently, I think the problem for GMO technology is not safety – it’s $4 corn.

#1: John, I just heard your report on GMO foods. What scientific data are you talking about - Monsanto data or real unbiased independent data? Who is doing this independent research? How much research have you seen? How far back have you looked? Chances are you will find little to no private research in America. You will have to travel overseas to find any independent research if it is still available and has not been lost or removed by governments.  I am a farmer from S.D. and I started looking for these answers years ago and have come up with different results than you. I am not one of those green peace tree hugging Hippies that is against anything that threatens the environment. I am a conventional farmer and use all kinds of chemicals. I use GMO seeds because mostly I have to. Try to get non GMO seed that has any research to speak of today for yield is very difficult.  John you are a smart man, but if you really want to find the truth about GMO foods then you will have to really hunt to find the truth. Don’t do it for me. Don’t do it for you or your audience. Do it for your grandchildren. I gave you a link below to start that new search. It is only a small piece of the puzzle. The real truth is there if you really want to find it.
Ben Quam - A South Dakota farmer

#2:  Hi, I heard your editorial comment about GMO technology this morning. You said you believed the danger of GMO was not safety, but $4 corn. Not from my perspective.  At 56, I found that I couldn't walk. My knees were on fire. I had pain in every joint. Stabbing pains in my feet. My shoulders were horribly painful. Otherwise, I was a healthy woman, taking no prescription drugs.  My doc said to get off the three most common joint irritants: wheat, corn and cow's milk dairy. For me, it was wheat and corn. Within three days I could play tennis.  Over the last three years I found it is GMO wheat and corn. My doc says that today's wheat has 80 percent more gluten than the wheat of my earlier days. First, I got off all wheat and corn. But I love corn chips, and "snuck" some GMO-free chips. No problem. Then I was in the U.K. for two weeks, where GMO foods are required to be labeled. I could eat wheat there, but not when I returned. As I understand it, arthritis is cause by inflammation. The proteins of wheat and corn got into my blood systems and irritated the cartilage in my joints. Proven by MRIs, I have no (or little) cartilage in both knees. But, if I don't eat GMO wheat and corn, I have no pain. Since I have been on this diet, I have convinced 15 or so family members and friends to try eliminating wheat and corn. They've had had the same results. Like me, you probably won't believe this unless something similar happens to you. I believe that if I've figured this out, surely the government and heads of chemical/seed companies know this, and what is happening to our food system is a travesty to our population. (P.S. I live in MI now, but grew up in Kansas where my family owns a farm and where I worked for the Farm Credit Banks of Wichita -- the first woman officer back in the '80s.) Regards,  Jan Jenkins
#3:  Dear Mr. Phipps, The public knows you just flat out lied in your report about the effects on humans with consumption of GMO products.
   A. Cancer has increased substantially in the past 25 years
   B. Bee population is severely compromised  
   C. Law just passed to prevent the public from suing companies such as Monsanto-- why would we need that law if they produce healthy products?
   D. MANY farmers have justly filed suit against such companies and lost everything trying to fight them.
   E. THIS IS THE BIG ONE- you wouldn't have a JOB if you told the truth about GMO's or geo-engineering for that matter. Is money worth it?
Shame on you! How on earth can you lay your head on your pillow at night -- lying and covering up lies?? It's disgusting! Concerned mother, Tracie Cesar

#4:  Your latest comment that GMOs would be sued if there were any health effects is FALSE!
You need to get your facts straight or join the rest of the US PRAVDA media. 'Monsanto Protection Act' slips silently through US Congress
The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week - including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks. The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.  Robert Wistrand



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