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March 2011 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.

VIewer Questions & Comments

Mar 28, 2011

***The following viewer reaction was received following the March 26-27, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

#1: I know I am not a farmer but I still have a question.  I so enjoy your show on Saturday mornings.  I have heard comments that we don’t have enough farm land left.  Is this shortage due to the gov’t paying farmers not to farm? Contractors building huge shopping malls where a farm once was?  What does this mean?  We travel across the country from Northern Michigan to Southwest Colorado each summer and we used to see “just corn”.  We are seeing less corn being grown but we do see open land. I often thing if there were camps out there where a parent could send their son or daughter to learn about farming.  My daughter has two young boys and I have often told her they need to go volunteer their time and learn to feel the dirt. Have you noticed most farmers are getting rid of their milking cows?  Is this so our milk will come from overseas?Nancy - Ocqueoc, MI

#2:  Dear Mr. Pell - you mentioned the lack of information regarding corn stillage this morning on U.S. Farm Report (3/26/11).  A lot more is needed…if the industry waits until corn is short and the critics are long, loud and plentiful, farmers will take the brunt of a lot of hate.  I've heard criticism from two people behind the camera ---- both good Christian people  but they need to be better informed -- one was the retiring Pat Robertson of the 700 club who in so many words said that ethanol was taking the food out of starving people's mouths.  The second, Hal Lindsey, a man who was once the most read nonfiction writer in the world and now makes a living explaining current events against Bible prophecy: he had this to say –     "the corn used to flll a 25 gallon fuel tank with  ethanol  would have fed one starving person for a whole year."  He did not say where he learned that,  and I have no idea of how correct he is.  A very acute felt need for straight information exists. I'm sure that among the departments of agriculture in Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois  and Ohio the knowledge, supported by hard facts, can be found.   It is important that the public knows that less than a third of the corn kernels are used up for ethanol.  What about the two thirds that is not used(?)  – the stillage – how much food does this produce?  Shirl

#3:  I really enjoy your show, especially the commodity reports and analysis.  Being a full time teacher, I don't have a lot of time to keep up on daily markets and read daily analysis, etc.  Watching your show gives me a good update on markets for the previous week and analysis as to what may happen.  It helps when I talk to local farmers to know what is currently happening.  Thanks again for the good show.  John Morgan, Lexington R-5 Ag Dept/FFA - Lexington, MO


A Loaded Question(s)

Mar 25, 2011

   My grandparents have been Kansas farmers since World War 2. I have been thrust into the agriculture industry recently due to my grandmother’s failing health. Fortunately we have a long time family friend as a tenant farmer. Being from a Colorado ski town, I am far from the typical Midwest farmer, but recently I’ve been doing my best to learn as much as possible. Your weekly program has been a great asset to my self-education. 

   Being relatively new to this industry, I’ve noticed a few things and have developed some concerns that I thought you could address on your show in a round table discussion. I would like to get the opinion of several experts on the long term future of farming, considering the following:

  1. Farming is heavily reliant upon diesel fuel, which is constantly getting more expensive and over the long term has a finite supply.
  2. The amount of farmable land is also finite.
  3. The amount of water for irrigation is limited, considering the current drought a lot of the country has experienced the past 10+ years.
  4. The world’s population seems to be growing at just under 1 billion people per decade.
   The system is eventually going to fail, resulting in starvation and war. When do you think this will be? What do you expect fuel and crop prices to be in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? Will they stay relatively proportional, allowing the farming industry to remain a viable profession?
What about in 50-100 years when there’s no more oil to make diesel?
   I’d also like to hear comments on multi-tasking farm land to produce solar & wind energy in parallel with crops. This is a long term goal I have for our farm. If you use this suggestion on the air, please let me know so I can make a special point to watch. Thanks for your time & consideration, and for helping me learn more about this industry. 

Lots & Lots of Feedback

Mar 22, 2011

***The following comments were received following the March 19-20, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

#1:  Let me convey that I am a regular viewer of US Farm Report and appreciate your efforts. I have been a livestock market analysts for better than 30 years and I am currently the Market Director with the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in Amarillo Texas. During this weekend's show Al Pell made a Freudian slip when he was asking a question of the market analyst, he asked how the current market effects Indiana. The point I would like to make is your show is unfairly biased to the central and eastern Corn Belt and to row crop production. There is a whole bunch of agriculture that you cover just in passing. I am well aware you are working with a restrictive budget and geographic constraints but, please broaden your horizons. In his commentary this week John Phipps was commenting about the horrible situation in Japan and made the comment that he thought the future of U.S. agriculture exports would favor livestock producers and bulk grain exports could take a back seat. That is a well thought observation.  Please, take head of your own observations and broaden your coverage.


Don Close - Canyon, TX


#2:  This is in response to the "pop quiz" sent by a lady in Missouri about the price of cattle in the 1870's.  This is an excerpt from a letter written by my great-grandfather in 1899.    Although the price of cattle is not addressed, I thought your viewers might be interested.  The price of corn was $.26 per cwt, wheat $.56/cwt, oats $.56/cwt, barley $.33/cwt, rye $.40/cwt, potatoes $.75/cwt, hogs $3.00/cwt, butter $.10/lb, eggs $.10/doz flour $1.50/cwt.

Sarah Bishop - Tulsa, Ok


   I TOTALLY have to disagree with your statements about GMO's a few weeks ago as well as the commercials USFR runs every week for Dekalb and other GMO companies.
   No, people are not dropping over like flies from GMO's, but there's no way I can ever believe that science is better than nature. They claim that we have to eat 5 times the food today to get the same nutritional value as our grandparents did. True, some of this may be due to soil depletion, but has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe this is nature's way of telling us to keep our fingers out of something? If people could get the same nutritional value of food today as they did 100 years ago, people could get by with less food. (We obviously eat much more than they did then.) Perhaps 1 reason food isn't as high in nutrition today is also due to our messing with nature. I believe the problem lies with, and started with, the big food giants and the almighty dollar. They make so much today off of their research and patened seeds, does anyone REALLY think that they're going to want to give that up? Is there anything someoe can do to have this studied?
Steve Dogan

#4:  What is "The Market?" Put another way, what is so powerful and all-knowing that an event in Japan or half-way around the world will affect our livelihoods in such a dramatic way as we have just recently seen?   And, it is not just agriculture.I have asked this question before in other settings and have never gotten an answer which I could understand.
Thanks a lot.   Always enjoy your show.
William F Keever
Lincolnton NC


#5:  Very interesting conversation.  Gregg (Hunt) keeps tapping the table when he talks.  I can totally understand, if someone cut off my hands I couldn’t have a conversation with anyone!  LOL!  But the tapping is magnified by the microphones and it is really coming thru on my television.  Thanks!

#6: I imagne there has been many messages about the comments John Phipps had about the price of oil, fuel & gas. Not often I have a need to write and make a complaint about a stteament made by somone but I feel a need to now. Last Sturday I watched John Phipps defend the oil companies.  There is no need to quote John as you have a recording to play back, but in short I feel he was was off the mark with his comments. Personally I do not like to see anyone or any company make huge profits from taking away from the less fortunate. Then to get these profits they misuse natural resorces by having not safe working conditions, not safe protection from spills and not telling the truth when accidents happen.  Oil companies get help from our tax dollars to explore, have roads furnised for transportation of their product and water and sewers built for workers. In North Dakota they are paying a former govener to promote less tax on oil companies while towns, townships and counties foot the bills for all the new traffic. Some they will see no tax revenue from for quite some time and not for the amount needed now. We as farmers and ranchers along with wholesalers and retailers have so much of our cost tied up into oil and it products. I see no starving oilmen or women. I do see despirate families trying to pay for heating bills, transportation costs and operating costs due to the profits made by the oil companies. Well that is a mouthful of concern on my part. It hurts when I see someone who has a pay check coming in when it is due to those who are only counting on profits from their operations and businesses to keep their family fed, clothed and sheltered. Please give that some thought.


Tom Lake, Underwood, MN 

The Nuclear Debate

Mar 21, 2011

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of "John's World" from the March 19-20, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report, followed by viewer comments...

*John's World Commentary:  As a former nuclear engineer, I have watched the valiant efforts by the Japanese to contain the damage and recover from one of the worst earthquakes in history.  While there is no upside to this tragedy, it looks at this moment like progress is being made, and this farmer is rooting for them.  One instantaneous reaction is to declare nuclear power obviously too dangerous to consider any more.  But this would be a mistake, I think, and if safe conditions are, as I expect, re-established, better conclusions could be made later.  The Japan disaster is being gauged as worse than Three-Mile Island, but not as bad as Chernobyl.  That alone says much.  We now have three unfortunate examples of nuclear accidents and have some data to turn the unthinkable into a thinkable.  We know, for instance, that despite horrific predictions no evidence of long term health effects have appeared from Three-Mile Island.  We also know how much terriotry can be contaminated for how long from Chernobyl.  Months from now we will have even more information about design, location and failures that can make new plants much safer.I hope we also learn over the next few years the same thing we did from the previous accidents:  while enormously tragic, expensive and worrisome, none lived up to the apocalyptic fears we often link to nuclear power. I could  yet be proven wrong in this case.  But my bet is we recover enormous new knowledge about this technology as a sad consolation. 

Viewer Feedback #1:  I want to comment on the nuclear issue. You said that you think it is a good for us to continue to advance our nuclear energy programs. I think they are too costly, and we should be looking to cleaner forms of energy. We should look to the wisdom of our forefathers in farming, they used wind and made the most of sunshine. I think in our future, a cleaner way will be better for us. It will be also good for our economy.  Thank you, Dale Williams - Grand Junction, CO 

Viewer Feedback #2:  To the gentleman who spoke about nuclear energy on the early Sunday morning show. I have come to like to watch the farm report because of its broad reporting.  Shame on you for your ignorant comments on nuclear energy.  Are you out of your mind?  This is the most costly, deadly form of energy there is.  How many accidents are necessary to educate you?  I say none, but this is impossibility because this is a dangerous industry, with no solution for nuclear waste.  Do you live in a bubble, with no loved ones or future generations to worry about?  Are you a shill for corporations, unable to speak for yourself?  Do your private thoughts match what you say on the air?   A mix of energy sources is needed going forward, but not nuclear.  Japanese spinach and milk is contaminated with radioactivity.  Radiation times five to seven times higher than normal.  It’s in Japan’s air, ground, water and food chain.  It’s in the ocean, the fish, mollusks, plankton, sea life.  It’s on the birds.  It’s on people and animals and every living thing. And it is in the USA.  Don’t know where you get your information or just make it up off the top of your head, but since you are on the air you would do well to better educate yourself before speaking.  Watching you with horror.  Georgianne Cox

Viewer Feedback #3:  John, there is a nuclear power system called the pebble system, which can NOT melt down.  It was developed by a Russian scientist, and will not go critical, and will not go above 900 degrees without water at all. Why the industry will not turn to this technology, is a issue ? GE is resistant, for proprietary reasons, and the like as they don't own the technology outright. So we can have a Japan type issue, because they do not want to pay to obtain the science ? Who knows, but along with wind and solar, this is a true viable nuclear option.  If only they would not let pride and greed stand in the way. Thanks...J.L. Meiers, North Dakota



Viewers Speak: Ethanol, Hemp & Winter Wheat

Mar 14, 2011

***Editor's Note:  The following comments were received following the March 12-13, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

#1:  Would it not make sense to be growing hemp instead of corn for ethanol? Cheap, grows anywhere, grows fast it would make a new crop for farmers and gets out of the food chain for production of the gas additive. This country used to use hemp in a big way, it should come back for all the products it makes. Could save our economy once again...

Mickey de Rham - Sugar Hill, NH

#2:  Mr. Phipps, I think we are at a cross roads to have an open and frank discussion over the use of corn to make ethanol. As the markets deal with prices, yields, acreages, weather and the "black swan, people wonder if there will be enough to feed the world. Why are we engaged in this insanity of turning 1/3 of our food crop into fuel?
   In my view the time has come to admit we have made a mistake. I do not have a vested interest other than to do what is right.  We don't we go back to recovering the natural resources of oil, gas and coal in a responsible manner and let the US farmers feed the world?
Thank you,
Joe Polunc
Cologne, MN

#3:  Having been a farmer I know what happens when you mud in corn and get hot dry weather or don't get enough heat. I know it is nice to get high prices because of the destruction of food on the altar of ethanol. I also know that you must know that once you count all the fossil fuel energy consumed mining the potash, making the anhydrous ammonia, growing the seed, manufacturing the herbicide, planting the corn, spraying the corn, harvesting the corn, drying the corn, and distilling the corn into ethanol that you consumed more fuel than you made.
   Studies I have seen calculate it takes 10 calories of fossil fuel energy to get one calorie of grain energy. How do you sleep at night knowing policies you have pushed have resulted in millions of defenseless people going to bed hungry? John what will say when He tells you He was hungry and you did not feed Him?
John Geis
Addison, NY

#4: John - Not sure this will reach the air because of a couple of your heavy sponsors. Several weeks ago you made the statement that even the Organic Community was starting to accept GMO crops. I have been involved with Organics for several years now and have never heard of anyone being in favor of GMO anything.   After contacting Ken Rosborough with the Non GMO Report, I found the answer. A book written by two people at University of California-Davis. For this one book I can put up 10 more that give compelling reasons why it should not be accepted. I am attaching an article that brings up several very solid reasons we should not be allowing GMO crops. Please notice the Pipe Dream, Eliminate Consumer Choice and end of the article. This is how the Organic Community really feels about GMOs as well as the American Consumer. As Americans our freedom of choice is being taken away in small ways, but will bring us to the point of  having no choices if companies like Monsanto have their way.  Once again - the only thing that is evident. Monsanto's money goes a long way. Does the name Starlink ring a bell? Anyone wanting to read more: article May 10.

Linda K. Grant - Kewanee, IL

#5:  Can you tell me if the US winter wheat crop is ok?  Have not heard. This may make a big difference in wheat prices. Thanks for the info in advance...Janei Brockhausen

***Editor's Note:  We will take an in-depth look at the status of the U.S. winter wheat crop this coming weekend (March 19-20, 2011) on U.S. Farm Report...


The Viewer's Turn

Mar 07, 2011

***Editor's Note:  The following comments were received following the March 5-6, 2011 edition of U.S. Farm Report...

#1: On the tractor tales segment on March 5th, Al Pell commented after the video that the John Deere B that was featured, was priced new in 1945 at $3,000. In reality, a new John Deere B in 1945 was less than half of what Mr. Pell quoted...that size Deere tractor didn't get to $3000 until many, many years later.

A faithfull veiwer.
Al Wichmann
Clintonville, WI


#2:  Hi guys, have you ever thought about adding a segment on algae fuel and algae production on a farm format? We need to get energy production out of the hands of big companies like Exxon and Shell and the other big companies and put it in the hands of smaller groups and farmers. Algae fuel is coming, its good for the economy and the trade deficit, and the nations security. Thanks, Lonnie Cooper


An Ethanol Critic

Mar 01, 2011

Good Morning John,

   Regarding ethanol, why does it receive the government support that it does? As I understand, it takes 1.5 times the ethanol to equal 1 gallon of gasoline. Where is the fuel economy? In addition, if you add in the energy to grow and harvest the corn, the fuel and emmissions from tractors and trucks to harvest and transport. Where is the energy savings?  Ethanol is also very corrosive to metals and dissolves plastics. In addition, when you look at the need as corn as food, from hogs and chicken to corn bread, and the rising cost of groceries, how is it benefiting the overall population the put corn in to ethanol?

Thank you,
Dale Baker
Lisbon, NY
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