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U.S. Farm Report Mailbag

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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: "Profit" Insurance, GMO's and Subsidies

Jun 17, 2013

***Editor’s Note:  The following comments were received following the June 15-16, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

#1:  John, although I am not a farmer, I believe we do need some type of insurance for farmers in case of natural disasters. However, it appears Crop Insurance or "Profit Insurance" has gotten out of hand.  With the millions of acres of grasslands and wetlands in North & South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and elsewhere being converted to corn – I feel we are on a collision course for another Dust Bowl that will sweep the entire Midwest and Plains States. In addition, corn-on-corn planting is just asking for super bugs, super weeds and a corn disease that could devastate agriculture. Where will it end? Will agriculture ever be able to have self-control, common sense, and a long-term view of what’s good for the soil and future generations of farmers? Are there any farmers or an association of farmers with a profit and soil conservation perspective that can band together and bring sanity to a greed-driven and politically supported agri-giant industrial complex that will eventually bring tax-payer scorn and likely massive federal government regulation once the Dust Bowl clouds start swirling and descending on cities and their voting population centers? Kevin – Minneapolis, MN

#2:  Regarding Nate Haas’ comments, I am wondering where he got his information. I’m a non-farmer and have been watching John for about five years, he has NEVER been in favor of farm subsidies...EVER, and I have always completely agreed with him. I talked to a farmer from California about ten years ago in LAS airport. He mentioned to me that most of the special subsidies go to very larger farms that have the money to retain attorneys. I’m afraid we still have way too many Attorneys.  Take care, Les

#3:  John, I agree that government payments and crop insurance has promoted land rent and land value out of control. However my FSA payments are less payment than my personal income tax. We are self-supporting aren't we? Or is the regular mid class tax payer percent of their tax going to make farmers overly rich?  I am a Missouri farmer, farming 2000 acres of row crops. I have thought the government should get out of farming. Carl Ferguson


#4: John, I am a fourth generation farmer from North Dakota, outside the Corn Belt.  My grandfathers and father have all told me about years when we/they have survived from the subsidy, granted the last three were not among them.  However, isn't the "players" to blame rather than the "game?"  For instance, we don't condemn sports when some individuals are caught cheating with performance enhancing drugs.  It is my opinion that there needs to be "teeth" in the policy much like anything else.

I would say eliminating the opportunity for large farmers to have countless entities would be a start.  Second, getting any subsidy over a certain amount per year back from those individuals would pay for the entire subsidy portion of the policy.  But halting alone would be a hell of a start, right? Example, if "Joe Farmer" wants to farm 30,000 acres and has eight entities and collects subsidies for all acres because he can, he is no longer capped at the $40,000 per year limit.  It would appear as though the 7 other entities at say $39,000 would equate to $273,000 of over expenditure.  I would say that would pay for roughly twenty average sized farms' subsidies. ($10/ acre at 1300 acres is $13,000/year, at least in North Dakota anyway).   Taxing everyone to keep food reasonable is logistics, having a system that people manipulate is asinine.  So, maybe our opinions aren't that far off. In closing John, I would like to ask you if you receive any government payments since you are dead set against them? If not, I applaud you for your persistence in your mindset. However if you do, aren't you being cynical towards your government and fellow producers?  Best regards, Eric Braaflat


#5:  To Al Pell, during the June 15-16 news, your group said the GMO wheat in Oregon wasn’t a big issue.  Maybe the GMO issue won’t affect the Midwest a lot, but our PNW price has dropped from $7.85 Portland to $7.25 Portland IF someone issues a bid for soft white wheat.  Currently the USDA weekly report shows most exporters NOT offering bids for Soft White wheat.  This definitely affects WA, ID and OR as our wheat exports through Portland.  We can hope this issue is resolved quickly, but remember what happened with Mad Cow disease (BSE) when 1 cow from Canada showed positive here.  It took years to rebuild markets for beef due more to international politics than true risk.  I hope this market heals faster.  Sincerely, Art Swannack - Lamont, WA 

#6: I just watched the story on the Illinois Farm Families Field Mom program. Thank you for covering this very important project to connect consumers to farmers to start a dialogue about our food. At the beginning of the story, John Phipps stated that it was an Illinois Farm Bureau project.  It is a project of the Illinois Farm Families which is made up of a coalition from the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Pork Producers, Illinois Soybean Association and the Illinois Farm Bureau.  All five organizations are working together on this project under the name of Illinois Farm Families.  Deb Moore - Farmer from Roseville, IL

#7: Thomas Grisafi Quote:  "Are you the 85% that look like you’re having a great crop, or are you part of that 15% that might not plant a seed".  85% great?.............Ignorant statement.

Steve Ellwood - Radcliffe Iowa


#8:  My wife and I are both displaced farm kids now living and working in the great Southwest. I follow agricultural matters daily. I think I must be one of the few that has read the farm bill currently in the Senate, how can they call it a farm bill when less than 15% of is even ag related?  Agriculture forms the backbone of the American economy and is an integral part of our proud heritage. Unfortunately, the current farm bill gives far less attention to the needs of farmers than it does to politicians and special interests. For an issue as critical to our nation's safety and American livelihoods as ensuring a reliable food supply, I am disappointed that Washington's cynical politics have again trumped any real reform. Any meaningful support for farmers in this trillion dollar bill is unnecessarily held hostage to the unchecked growth of food stamp entitlements and numerous other programs unrelated to farming. This farm bill costs 60 percent more than the 2008 bill. Nearly 80 percent of it is comprised of food stamps. It fails to provide a true safety net for difficult years, fails to fully target assistance to those most in need, and fails to prioritize farm aid over duplicative programs, subsidizing unrelated programs from green energy to housing.  Jeff Crum – Albuquerque, NM

#9:  John, I heard your diatribe about your predictions not coming true & GM foods. I sorry to say that you came across as a condescending know-it-all with your predictions on nuclear power plants, keyboards, the metric system, and of course public skepticism on GM foods. You're "naive assumption that hard evidence would win out in the end" was poorly worded. But who am I but an ignorant viewer. "Being scientifically correct and people taking a cafeteria approach to science in order to defend illogical preferences" really left me with a negative impression of you. If big-business GMOs are so good, what possible objections could you have to labeling them as such? A better question is, what are you trying to hide?  If you want everyone to switch keyboards, exactly who do you propose will pay to replace our 100s of millions of existing functional keyboards & who do you think you are to tell parents that they should take time away from their children to learn a new keyboard. If you want everyone to purchase new measuring cups and measuring spoons and convert every menu in every book & recipe card including those passed down through the generations & reprint every unit of measure on every food product in existence, what scientific evidence do you need to know that real people live outside this utopian bubble you seem to live in.  With regard to GM foods, imagine people being skeptical of big companies with a profit motive while being asked to ingest things modified at a molecular level. As Americans, we still have a right to be skeptical & certainly we should have the right to choose the foods we eat including non-GM foods. I'm not making a pro or con argument here. I'm saying, if you want to persuade me, than persuade me. DO NOT condecsend me or tell me I have lost my right to eat as I choose. I saw your show for the first time. I thought your commentary was full of extraordinary arrogance ... and regretfully ignorance, therefore I'm less likely to watch your show again. How's that for concrete evidence. Chris Broussard


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