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November 2008 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.

John's World Comment

Nov 24, 2008
My father had the same mind set.  He kept his savings in his checking account.  When a local bank went public he not only passed an opportunity to buy stock at a prefered rate, but pulled the money out and put in another bank.  That stock later more than doubled in a few weeks time.  Dad always kept his money back for the coming hard times which never came in his lifetime.  He had the opportunity to buy land which later greatly increased in value, but never took it.
Sincerely,
Bill Patterson
Ohio Farmer

Editor's Note:  Bill is referring to the following commentary from John Phipps that aired last weekend on U.S. Farm Report:

   ALTHOUGH AGRICULTURE IS JUST NOW BEGINNING TO FEEL SERIOUS EFFECTS, THE REST OF THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN IN A SERIOUS - IF UNOFFICIAL RECESSION - FOR MONTHS. iN FACT, THE PERSISTENT INTERMITTENT BEEPING YOU CAN HEAR IF YOU LISTEN CAREFULLY IS THE SOUND OF OUR ECONOMY BACKING UP. 
   iN A WAY, I'M SORRY MY DAD DIDN'T MAKE IT TO WITNESS THIS EVENT. HIS LIFE WAS ONE LONG WAIT FOR THE NEXT GREAT DEPRESSION - AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS SEEM TO BE GETTING CLOSE TO THAT HISTORIC PERIOD. tHE FORMATION OF HIS ECONOMIC VIEWS WAVERED LITTLE FROM THE OCCASIONALLY SANCTIMONIOUS RISK-AVERSION LEARNED IN HIS YOUTH. ONLY CASH GAVE HIM COMFORT AS A FORM OF WEALTH. 
   bUT AS MUCH AS I ADMIRED MY DAD, I LEARNED WHAT THIS MINDSET COST HIM. hIS HARD-EARNED SAVINGS BARELY OUTGREW INFLATION OVER THE YEARS, FOR ONE THING. MOST OF ALL I LEARNED THAT IF YOU ARE CAUTIOUS DURING GOOD TIMES, cONTRARY TO WHAT MANY PROFESS, YOU WILL BE EVEN MORE CONSERVATIVE DURING BAD TIMES. 
   tHE IDEA THE DAY WILL COME WHEN CASH WILL BE KING IS RIGHT, BUT IT WILL NEVER RULE. PEOPLE WON'T BEGIN TO PART WITH IT UNDER THOSE CONDITIONS. i AM NOT CRITICIZING MY FATHER OR THOSE WHO SHARE HIS FINANCIAL STRATEGY. I'M SIMPLY POINTING OUT IT THERE DOESN'T EVER SEEM TO BE A RAINY-ENOUGH DAY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A LIFETIME OF WAITING.
 

More Mailbag Reaction

Nov 24, 2008
Editor's Note:  Once again our Mailbag segment drew quite a bit of reaction from viewers.  We are posting John's comments in their entirety, followed by viewer comments:

   TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAIL BAG...
     A FEW WEEKS AGO I COMPARED THE SLUGGISH ACTIVITY OF THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS SERVICE TO UNIONS WORKING TO CONTRACT - AND RECEIVED THIS SHARP REJOINDER FROM STEVE AND CELIA SHIDERER:
     "MY WIFE AND I RESENT YOUR CHEAP SHOT AT UNION MEMBERS. YOU DID A DISSERVICE TO WORKING PEOPLE BY YOUR ONE-SIDED WRONG STATEMENT"
     FIRST, THANK YOU FOR WATCHING AND SHARING YOUR POINT OF VIEW. THE COMMENTARY WAS NOT ABOUT UNIONS, PER SE, BUT I CAN NOW SEE HOW YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN UPSET AT A PERCEIVED SLAM.
     I WAS TRYING TO FIND A COMPARISON FOR THE POOR PRODUCTIVITY LEVEL AT NASS.
     WORKING TO CONTRACT IS A LEGITIMATE AND OCCASIONALLY USED TACTIC BY UNIONS TO IMPACT NEGOTIATIONS WITH EMPLOYERS.
     BY ONLY DOING THE WORK EXPLICITLY SPELLED OUT IN THE CONTRACT, PRODUCTIVITY SLOWS, AND MANAGERS HAVE MORE INCENTIVE TO REACH AGREEMENT.  MOST OF THE EXAMPLES I FOUND OF THIS STRATEGY FEATURED TEACHERS UNIONS SINCE EXTRACURRICULAR DUTIES ARE OFTEN HANDLED INFORMALLY.
   REGARDLESS, THE COMPARISON I WAS TRYING TO MAKE WAS WHILE UNIONS HAVE KNOWN TO USE THIS TOOL FOR BARGAINING LEVERAGE FOR SHORT PERIODS, NASS HAS MADE IT STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE.  OVER THE DECADES THEY HAVE ENSURED THEY DO NO MORE, NO FAASTER, AND NO BETTER THAN THE YEAR BEFORE, CONTRARY TO THE REST OF THE INFORMATION SERVICES INDUSTRY AND OTHER GOVERNMENT AGENCIES LIKE FSA.
   CONSIDER THE IRONY HERE.  UNION WORKERS ARE INCENSED AT BEING COMPARED TO GOVERNMENT GOLDBRICKERS.  NOW THAT I THINK OF IT, I DON'T BLAME THEM.

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VIEWER REACTION:
  Thanks for your response on 11-23-08 John!  We do like your bottom line approach to issues.  We really do enjoy your sense of humor!  Steve & Celia Scheiderer
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  Yes sir!  I believe the Unions are partially responsible for our financial delima.  You said it all when you said they affect productivity.  They demand higher salaries and benefits, which drives up prices and the spiral continues.  Now everything is nose diving and they unions and workers are crying.  It has hurt everyone. There are a lot of manufacturers and other employers in Oklahoma who are not union and they are doing pretty well at this time. Thank you for the explanation you gave.  I think it is totally accurate.
Linda Green
Ardmore, OK 
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Because of the fact that living off the labor and profits of others is not only legal, but even considered a value in our present day mentality, we have accustomed ourselves to look down on unions. We are even at a stage in the cultural conditioning of our moral conscience that we believe the profits coming from labor are rightfully the exclusive domain of the shareholder, who, for the most part do what??? Why the laborers are not entitled to more of the profit of a company can be explained in many ways, primarily through expensing off profits under legal guidelines, salaries, R&D, commissions on sales, etceteras. The critical ethical question remains, regardless of what justifies this distribution of capital to individuals who have nothing to do with the production of a product other than paper pushing, whether it is legal or not, is it moral to live off the labor of others? All status quo justifications aside, because, in extreme cases, slavery was once justified by way of staus quo morality, some even going so far as to invoke the Bible, the question to be answered is: Is it moral to live off the labor of others?
 
Most Sincerely,
 
William Woods Higgins.   

Auto Industry Concern

Nov 19, 2008
I am concerned about the possible demise of the US auto industry.  Apparently a whole chain of suppliers would go out of business.  Are these not the same suppliers who supply the farm equipment industry?  What will happen to the US farm and industrial equipment manufacturers like Caterpillar and John Deere?  I know John Deere has moved their small tractor manufacturing to Asia, but believe their large tractors are still made in the USA.  Caterpillar has been one of the few bright spots in the US economy in the last year. 
 
I am also concerned about US security.  Who will manufacture the Hummers, trucks and tanks for the military?  It seems to me that the automotive industry is as important to the USA as the banking industry.  We cannot afford to let it fail.
 
Larry Caldwell
Myrtle Creek, Oregon

Hunting Commentary

Nov 18, 2008
Editor's Note:  
   The U.S. Farm Report Mailbag that aired November 15-16, 2008 generated quite a bit of response.  We are posting John's commments in their entirety, followed by several viewer reactions:

     TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAIL BAG...
     WHILE I NORMALLY DON'T USE ANONYMOUS COMMUNICATIONS, THIS WOMAN'S PHONE CALL RAISES A LARGER POINT FOR ME:
     "I WAS DISGUSTED BY THE OFFENSIVE PIECE YOU RAN ABOUT DOVE HUNTING. HOW COULD KILLING HARMLESS BIRDS BE FUN?"
     CHIP FLORY AND HIS FELLOW HUNTERS CAN DEFEND THEIR SPORT WELL ENOUGH WITHOUT ME. I DO NOT HUNT, BUT I DON'T CARE IF OTHERS DO SO RESPONSIBLY. NOR WILL ANY INPUT FROM ME SWAY MANY MINDS.
     BUT THE TONE OF OUTRAGE AND ANGER IS THE MORE TELLING PART OF HER CALL. BECAUSE STRONG EMOTIONS MAKE FOR GOOD MEDIA WE TEND TO SPEND TOO MUCH TIME I THINK HIGHLIGHTING IRRITATING, ALBEIT MINOR ISSUES - AND THEREBY ENCOURAGING CONFRONTATION.
     BUT PERMANENT OUTRAGE OVER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO OR FAIL TO DO IS A LUXURY OF A PROSPEROUS AND FREE SOCIETY.
     IF YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED OUR ECONOMIC SHIP IS FOUNDERING IN HEAVY SEAS RIGHT NOW AND OUR FREEDOMS HAVE BEEN ERODED. 
     A SMALL AMOUNT OF TOLERANCE AND A LARGE PORTION OF CIVILITY WILL BE CRUCIAL AS WE TRY TO REBUILD THE TRUST REQUIRED FOR OUR ECONOMY TO WORK.
     I SUPPORT CHIP'S RIGHT TO HUNT, AND OUR VIEWER'S RIGHT TO PROTEST, BUT WE NO LONGER CAN AFFORD ABRASIVE IN-YOUR-FACE CONFRONTATION ON EVERY ISSUE.
     IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE PASSIONATE AND COMMITTED TO GET ALONG AS WELL. THE ERA OF OUTRAGE IS OVER, IN MY OPINION.  RESTORING THE PACE OF PROGRESS IN OUR COUNTRY WILL REQUIRE FOREBEARANCE IN OUR RELATIONS WITH OUR NEIGHBORS.  WE MUST PICK OUR FIGHTS TODAY, AND THIS ONE IS WAY DOWN THE LIST.

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   It's true there are some irresponsible hunters out there that kill for sport.  It can also be said that there are hunters out there who kill to provide for their families.  When I was growing up, dove/quail hunting with my dad was not only a way to spend time together, it was also a way to reduce our grocery bill and make ends meet.  It has been said that wild birds and deer provide leaner meet without all the antibiotics, preservatives, etc. that store bought meets contain.  That anonymous caller should get the facts first before creating a firestorm of protest.  Debate is okay; but please, this lady needs to remember some people need to hunt to support their families.
Sincerely,
Rachel in Ohio
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   Good morning!  We aren't farmers. . .but we sometimes listen to your program while doing our morning exercises and find it very interesting.  This morning your editorial comments at the end of the program about being civil even when passionate were excellent.  Would it be possible to get a written copy? 
Thank you.  Lynne Santangelo
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   Greetings...just a few minutes ago, I watched your program for the date of 16 Nov 2008. That's no big deal. But at the end of the program, you had a piece about a woman calling in angry about dove hunting, and about tolerance, picking our fights, etc.  I was blown away. So well said, so well thought out. (OK, not in that order, I hope) I could not agree more. As a lifelong Unitarian, the concepts espoused in the opinion are right up my alley, but I don't have the voice you have.  I want to Thank You for that piece.   You quite rightly pointed out, that we DO tend to get bogged down in the petty, the meaningless, and the spiteful. We really DO need to pick our battles. And we sure have enough of them we must deal with these days. I think most of us, whatever our background, race, color, or creed, can agree that we ought not melt down our planet, we should get the economy going, and things of that sort, things that REALLY DO matter.  We need to get our priorities in order!  In any case, I Thank You again for the piece, and hope you keep up the good work.
Chris Mills
Project Head: Project Connect Vets
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     My reaction to your comments to the anonymous anti dove hunting communicant was "A Ha!!. That's It!!"  May I have the text? And, may I have your permission to use it or parts of it in a radio program about the rights of citizens upon which I am scheduled to be a guest?  The show will be on 600kcol am radio at 10:00 am Nov. 29.
Bill Miller
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   On Saturday's show (November 15, 2008), John Phipps gave his usual editorial at the end of the show.  I didn't get to hear all of it, but liked what little I did hear.  I have checked on your website and on John's blog, but can't find his editorial.  Do you know how I could get a copy of it?
 
Thanks,
Hank Roth
Crime Prevention Coordinator
Morro Bay Police Department

Dairy Costs

Nov 17, 2008
    In your report (from Dairy Today's 2008 Elite Producer Business Conference), you said that input costs have gone up more for the farmers out west.  I think that our costs have gone up more that theirs because the grain and fuel and repair are all big inputs for us dairy farmers and they have all gone up a lot.  We sent some equipment to get it repaired and got a bill for $16,000.00 and one of the machines still had a worse oil leak than when we sent it in.  They tell us that the transmission case needs to be changed at out expense and we do not have any money to fix it.  We owe the grain company $16,000.00 now because of paying the repair bills.  The electric company changed the way that they charge for electricity.  They used to charge a higher rate for 8 hours per day for 4 months during the winter, during the last year they charged the higher rate for the whole year and our planed budget amount had gone from $686.00 to $1,780.00 on this last months bill.  I added up the bills owed and they come to more than 3.5 times the milk check.  It is currently costing us about 70% of our income just for the grain to feed the animals each month and it is every month as this is a dairy farm, not a beef farm. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Robert Huestis
 
Bridport, VT

John's World Request

Nov 13, 2008
I would like to read your commentary to my sales staff that aired on Sunday November 9th if at all possible. Enjoyed the show tremendously - great job!  Scott Smith

Editor's Note: 
   Here is a transcript of the John's World commentary that aired November 9-10, 2008:

There are points in our lives when the best we can do is simply try to take in what is happening around us, and leave the analysis for a later date. For me this week has been on such time.

To begin with, we are harvesting a field that I was pretty sure would be my worst yield.  I was being optimistic.  It has been brutally disappointing.  I know from experience how this can drop my mood for several days.

At the same time, I am concerned about the outlook for 2209 for farmers - and just about everybody else.

Jobs are beginning to disappear and we have friends and family who know this anxiety. Meanwhile, it appears the best economic minds we have are at a loss.

Finally, we have the election.  Regardless of your own reaction to the result, I think it is fair to say few of us could have pictured the events we are living right now.

One thing does seem certain to me.  The world has exceeded our prediction capabilities. Therefore, looking for soothsayers to guide us is likely useless.  Each of us must take charge of predicting our own path. 

And when you do, remember this: More is possible than we have ever imagined before.  And that applies to good things as well as bad.

 

Hologram on Election Night???

Nov 10, 2008
At the beginning of the second half of last Saturday’s US Farm Report, after Scott had read the news, he and John had a verbal exchange I didn’t understand. It was about a hologram and how that was a distraction. What was this in reference too?
Thanks,
Rich Ankerholz,
Oskaloosa, KS

Editor's Note:  John and Scott we're referring to the debut of hologram technology by CNN on election night.  To learn more, click here.

Foodborne Illness Statistic

Nov 04, 2008
   I enjoy the show each week.  I am writing to question the statistics quoted for the number of food-borne illness reported each year.  If 76 million people contract a food-borne illness, then we each have about a 1-in-3 chance to be one of these lucky folks.  With 4 in my family, at least 1 of us should be sick sometime this year from bad food.  This hasn't happened--yet, so someone must be taking it in the gut for my family, or your quoted number of 76 million is off.  Are there really 76 million a year?  What or who determines that the illness is related to bad food? 

Roger Wheat
Ely, IA

Editor's Note:  The statistic comes from The Center for Disease Controls and Prevention - here's a link:
 
The headline:
   "Infectious diseases spread through food or beverages are a common, distressing, and sometimes life-threatening problem for millions of people in the United States and around the world. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 76 million people suffer from foodborne illnesses each year in the United States, accounting for 325,000 hospitalizations and more than 5,000 deaths."

John's World Reaction

Nov 03, 2008
Editor's Note:  The "John's World" commentary from this past weekend (November 1-2, 2008) drew lots of response.  Here is the commentary in its entirety, followed by viewer reaction:

   This week's corrected USDA crop report solidifies my opinion of the bureaucratic under-performer that is the National Agricultural Statistics Service.  Let me state first and foremost I do not accuse them of bias or corruption, just simple straightforward ineptitude.
   The gathering and analysis of data has advanced breathtakingly in every other industry and even other government departments, but the NASS still provides the same products with the same accuracy and speed as they did ten years ago...and twenty...and thirty.
   Like union employees working to contract, reports emerge no faster than the law establishing them decades ago requires.  Still as the NASS budget expands and reports stay the same, America receives a decreasing return on their tax dollars compared to the wealth of timely information increasingly flowing from say, the Departments of Labor and Commerce.
   While the crop reports, as we found this week are Exhibit "A" of this official attitude, the Census of Agriculture is another lackluster output that reinforces much that is wrong with government.
   Modern information firms could, I believe, produce an annual census and report it in days.  And crop reports should be weekly and done overnight. To those who protest this is impossible, let's find out.  Put those reports out for bid to data processors and let traders evaluate the results.  And let taxpayers finally get some value for their information dollars. 
    That's my opinion...as always, we'd like to hear what you think.
     
VIEWER COMMENTS:
 
 
John Phipps.  
   My wife & I resent your cheap shot at Union members that you made on 11-02-08. We are proud of our UAW membership! We go to work every day on time & proudly do our jobs. You did a disservice to  working people by your one sided wrong statement! We do watch your show every Sunday at 5:am.
Respectfully,    
Steve & Celia Scheiderer 

   Johns daring political commentary is the type of plain, informed talk we need on matters of public policy. It's a shame John is not in Congress, his wealth and breadth of knowledge form a foundation from which this courage of conviction could actually do some good.
Joel Holstad
Forest Lake, Minnesota
 

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