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October 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: More Markets Please - and Sleep is Good

Oct 30, 2013

 Editor’s Note:  The following viewer comments were received following the October 26-27, 2013 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

#1:  Here, Here!!!  After 38 years of 14-16 hour days this farm wife likes your take on why the fellows often stay out in the field or office or pickup truck so long. Old bragging habits die hard.  Maybe your argument of more sleep and increased efficiency will replace our sometimes mindless dawn ‘til dark habit on this Idaho family farm.  Our sons and nephew who have now returned from college to a very large potato and grain operation are trying to convince my husband and brother-in law of the efficiency of an 8-10 hour day and more time to not just sleep but to unwind with the family and participate in the life of the community.  Yes, planting and harvest season often require a few more longer work days but your comments on the importance of sleep were put on the DVR recording and will be played back at our annual farm meeting this winter.  Besides me, I think my sister in law and the daughter in laws can find value in your comments on sleep and taking the garbage out.  Always appreciate your common sense Mr. Phipps.  Sincerely, Cheryl Koompin - Koompin Farms - American Falls, ID


#2:  Why do you only discuss corn and beans on the Saturday morning market segment?  There is wheat, other oil seeds and livestock markets.  I'm sure (like myself) there are a lot of farmers/ranchers that don't raise corn or beans.  After a couple of minutes discussing corn and beans it becomes repetitive like this e-mail.  I think time as well as being more interesting/informative could be spent discussing a lot more commodities than just corn and beans.

#3:  Dear Mr. Phipps, being an avid viewer of US Farm Report, and having read your column in Farm Journal clear back to the days before hosting USFR was even a thought, I have come to agree with you on many topic and the strong desire to vocally disagree, using disparaging words, with you on others.  NAFTA would be one where we are polar opposites but that is for another letter.  One thing that we may agree on since you have been an advocate of eliminating the farm subsidy program would be that the government shutdown in early October showed how we don’t even have a real use for the FSA system.    Corn continued to be harvested, cattle were still milked, grain still got shipped to market, and guess what…agriculture did not grind to a screaming halt and the world did not end!!!  Yes we had inconveniences like the NRCS guys couldn’t survey a terrace or a backlog of meat needed inspected.  But doesn’t that go to prove we really need to privatize these functions since they were deemed non-essential anyway?   Now might be the time to seriously look at the idea of scrapping all farm programs all together.  Won’t the farmer still go out milk the cattle, farrow the hogs, plant the corn, harvest the citrus because of their devotion to their occupation and not because of some government agency? Sam Willson - Wapello, Iowa 

#4:  I am a faithful watcher of the US Farm Report and for some time now all of the visiting commentators I see on your program talk about the very low cost of corn and the crop insurance farmers will collect because of these low prices. I am curious about the possibility of using corn in pellet/ corn burning stoves? I have a pellet stove and when I was deciding which stove I should buy, I noticed that almost all of them burn wood pellets or corn. Wood pellets are now selling for about $5 per 40lb bag but I have never seen a bag of corn fuel anywhere. I just wonder if this would be a viable market for this huge excess of corn, maybe at a lower cost than wood pellets.  Respectfully, Burt Anderson 

Spending vs. Saving? Viewers respond to John's comments...

Oct 29, 2013

 ***Editor’s Note:  Last weekend’s Mailbag segment from John Phipps generated lots of response.  We’ll begin this post with a transcript of John’s comments, followed by viewer feedback:


   Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag…Kevin Draves in Midland, Michigan raises a point of clarification.  "GDP is not the profit of our country but the spending of our country including government spending.  What scares me the most about $17 trillion of debt is the interest."

   Kevin, I went back and checked and I did not use the word "profit".  I talked about GDP being the measure of our total income.  But your comment does raise an important point.  Right now the term spending carries a negative political charge to it.  Saving is better than spending.  Government spending is the worst of all.  Meanwhile income is a totally good thing and should be maximized and in some minds protected from unnecessary taxation.  Both of these positions seem reasonable until you look at the connection.  One person’s spending is another person’s income.  People who advocate that Americans or our government spend too much on this product or that service should try to figure out where their income comes from.  You paycheck, for example is the evidence your employer spent money on your labor.  While it may have been more virtuous for him to save instead of spend, it would not be good for your finances.


#1:  John, your comments equated government spending and private spending as if they were the same thing.  When an employer pays an employee the employee is paid to produce something which adds value to the economy, this is what produces the profit.  When the government spends money, they take it from the economy and re-distributes it to people and causes as the politicians decides, usually on causes I do not support.  This is destructive to a free-enterprise system.  In other words, government does not have profit; it just has income and outgo.  As the government grows bigger it must employ more people to do its bidding.  These people become dependent on the government, ensuring future votes and support, but more importantly, depriving the private sector of productive workers who would otherwise be producing even more value instead of living off of the private sectors productivity.  You asked your viewers to take stock of where their money comes from, insinuating that most peoples’ incomes are at least partially derived directly or indirectly from government sources.  This question deals only with short-sighted, self- interest and not with principle.  If the principle is right, it is good and will produce much better fruit than what a government politician or bureaucrat could even imagine.  The communist/socialist/progressive always appeals to peoples’ short sighted, self interest in order to convince them to yield their sovereignty, but if we are to remain free, we must act on principle, take back our rights, power, and responsibilities. Sincerely - John Fox

#2:  Hi John, you are right about cutting spending but the questions are difficult to answer.  Which entitlements or projects need to be reduced or cut out completely?  Whose wage are we cutting or eliminating? Many federal agencies are essential to the operation of our nation. The answer is to balance the budget (when we have one!) the same way we balance our budgets at the state, county, and city levels, and in our homes. We are not going to turn this around quickly but we must start somewhere.  The problems are numerous.  We have seen deficit spending for years (except for the last half of the Clinton administration).  The number of people receiving handouts out-numbers the number of people providing the handouts.  Thanks for the work you do on US Farm Report.  I always watch and enjoy it immensely. William Stromberger - Edwall, WA

#3:  I am very close to not watching your show anymore.  One more smug political speech from Phipps and I am done. Jim Siepman

#4:  Good Morning folks at USFR, I just wanted to write with a quick word of thanks.  Career and knowledge-wise I'm about the farthest thing from a farmer, but I'm an early bird and when I'm up with my coffee at 5AM on Saturday mornings, you're one of the better shows on TV so I start my weekend with you and gain some appreciation for the Ag that's all around me. I wanted to pass along my gratitude to Mr. Phipps' commentary at the end of each show, which seems to be about economics more than anything else.  It's always economically astute, sensibly delivered, and usually gives me a perspective that I hadn't considered before and I value that. Keep up your good work!  With Gratitude…Ryan Wheeler - Anamosa, IA



A Liberal Republican...what's that?

Oct 21, 2013

 ***Editor’s Note:  The following comments were received following the Mailbag segment that aired on October 19-20, 2013…we have posted a transcript of John’s comments first, followed by the viewer reaction:


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report Mailbag…a basic question from Harlan Sundblad: "Are you a Democrat or a Republican?"  Harlan I’m flattered you can’t tell.  As party membership takes on new meaning the label we carry immediately sets up expectations and alters perceptions of what we say and do.  That said, I am a life-long Republican.  I have been a precinct committeeman and ran for office on the GOP ticket.  That said, I am kind of an endangered species – a "liberal" Republican.  I used to be a moderate, but the rating system keeps shifting rightward so people like me aren’t real popular with many who feel to be a true Republican means adhering to a catechism of dogmatic conservative positions.  I suppose you could label me part of the growing group of independent voters because my vote in not pre-ordained to any party.  But out of habit, I guess, I always take the Republican primary ballot.  Party affiliation has become one way we bond ourselves to others, perhaps in place of other disappearing forms of community.  We like to be around people who share our beliefs.  But as we sharpen the lines for those beliefs, we exclude more and more people, and narrow our view of the world and how it should be.  I still think there are several dozen of us liberal Republicans in the wild, but it doesn’t really matter how we label ourselves.  I’ve learned that depending on a group affiliation to define your views isn’t all that satisfying.


#1:  John, I always enjoy your intelligent, articulate commentaries and your willingness to state firmly your point of view.  For decades I voted Republican, but the party's fondness for undeclared wars and the "tea party" movement have left me feeling disenchanted.  I've become an Independent.  As such, primary elections are frequently problematic for me. I live in a small city with a working-class populace that votes Democratic, but in a county and state that are mostly Republican.  In what geographic area do I want my single vote to count? Since the winner in the Democratic primary for elections in the city is usually assured to win in the general election if I want my vote to be effective for city government,  I must choose between the Democratic candidates.  However, if I wish my vote to have an influence in the county or state, that usually dictates voting in the Republican primary. Every election is different. That said, keep your commentaries coming. Thanks - Mike Roth

 #2:  We have been increasingly aware since before the 2012 election that U.S. Farm Report has become more and more political and views have a liberal bias.  Gone are the days that farmers can depend on this program to build and improve their farming operations and not have to hear the rhetoric of how well the present administration is enhancing agriculture.  You may go the way of the rest of liberal media and see your audiences fall off.  But I guess you do what you have to do to stay on the air. Sad days.  Mary Orders


#3:  A hearty cheer for Mr. Phipps!   Thankfully a reasonable Republican has found a forum to champion what the Republican Party needs to be to exist as a viable entity in this country going forth.  The present ultra-conservative/Tea Party holding the party hostage will continue to win increasingly marginal local and state elections while the majority of the changing face of America will vote otherwise.  My Party has been left to fuss and throw up road blocks at every turn while the Democratic Party wins the hearts and minds of voters across the urbanized country.   Where are the new and innovative solutions?  Apparently we Republicans have none!  If the Republican Party does not adapt to the "new" reality it will continue to face becoming even more ineffective.  The country needs a renewed spirit of "country before party" if we are to remain a world leader.   "John Phipps - Condoleezza Rice" has a nice ring to it don't you think John?  Ron Olds - Coldwater, MI

#4:  Not a farmer, but...EXCELLENT editorial which describes what I see here in central Wisconsin (Wausau). I watched 16 days, e-mailed both my Representative in the House, Sean Duffy, and our state wide Senator Ron Johnson; read Wall Street Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as Wausau Herald.  I catch all the cable news networks' shows that keep up with Congress, especially C-Span. The consensus is ...there is no consensus! It is, however, disheartening to me to have found:

                a) Duffy clung throughout, to the 'Obamacare' silliness he showed on Morning Joe saying, "the President should have Obamacare if we have to!"  He helped shutdown!

                b)  Johnson thought it was an OK idea to take default 'out for a spin'.... nothing bad would happen!

Both were shockingly ignorant to me (I am "specific issues and specific person qualities" in my thinking and voting).  Julie Barribeau - Retired Wisconsin educator

#5:  John, your comments about being a Republican reminded me of the story about my great grandfather, Thomas Clark Fort. He was a civil war veteran, and a Lincoln Republican. He moved here in 1865 from Knightstown Indiana. There were several Southern Sympathizers around Kingston that put out the word that the Damn Yankees had better not try and vote. On election day Thomas borrowed a Navy Colt Revolver strapped it on and rode to Kingston and voted. I don't believe he would approve of what's going on today. I guess that is why I am not a Liberal Republican. Thanks, Dale Hartley - Kingston MO

Viewers Speak: Government Shutdown, Climate Change and a Glossary?

Oct 18, 2013

***The following comments were received in response to the past two episodes of U.S. Farm Report…

#1:  John, I enjoy your weekly commentary, even if I don't always agree with you, which in most cases I do. One of those agreements was when you made the comment a few weeks ago about how those in the combines first have a great opportunity to see how yields are looking, but why tell everyone. That leads me to my disagreement with the guest market analysts that seem to think we can't live without USDA reports. I am not 100% on this, but I think we could cut out that part of USDA, and be more like other markets, let the private forecasters handle it.  Really bothered me when a lead reporter from national public radio was on a national TV news show declaring we need to end this shutdown because "farmers don't even know what price to sell their hogs at". With these "experts" filling the airwaves, we need to help people like you to get more national attention, not just on the ag shows. Also, good point a while back on the idea of NOT making our farm animals look too adorable as we go to schools etc…with baby pigs etc. That will only help the anti-meat groups, with more ammunition.  Just so you know, my background, 30 years involved in Banking, still active as a minority owner and board member of a 4 office rural bank in southern Minnesota. My son, like yours is taking over the 800 acre family farm, but I still get to help! My main occupation now is being one of four shareholders and running a contract machining company, where we have 80 people making parts for several national companies, including parts for farm machinery. So you can see, I seem to get affected by a lot of political moves, in one business or another. Anyway, keep up the good work. Tim Wenzel - New Richland, MN


#2:  John, In your comments you failed to take into account the extreme changes in the people who run the bureaucracy and the high level of corruption and lack of accountability. Several Examples:

                a. The IRS targeting of conservatives groups and auditing those who disagree with the current administration. No one has been held accountable.

                b. The selective enforcement of laws by the Justice Department. Leakers who leak information damaging to the Administration are prosecuted, while those who leak things beneficial are not.

                c.  The massive printing of money by the Federal Reserve to buy government bonds (prohibited by law). So much so that the fed now holds more US Bonds than anyone else and they continue to buy 85 billion a month with newly created money. In all history this has never ended well.

                d. The USDA reports. Please explain to me how corn stocks could be higher when we are shipping corn up the Mississippi. Explain why they did not subtract prevented plant acres all summer when they had the figures.

                e. The well connected are not even charged. Remember MF Global?  John Corzine stole nearly a billion dollars of customer's money and was never even charged.

                f. The NSA scandal and the taking of all communications, without warrant, and simply storing it in case they may want to use it someday. The Attorney General lying under oath to get a warrant to seize a reporter's and his family's email and phone conversations. He does not even lose his job.

The American people have lost faith in their government institutions and contrary to your assertions things are not continuing along OK.  John Geis - Addison, NY

#3:  When John began his commentary (October 5, 2013) concerning GMOs he stated there is the problem of "false equivalents".  Meaning "although there are two sides to a scientific argument the overwhelming evidence favors one side".  He then cited as an example ‘evolution’.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The National Academy of Sciences states that reliance upon naturalistic explanations is the most basic characteristic of sound science.  Therefore, any arguments for intelligent design or creationism are automatically dismissed as religion.  Thus science is defined in such a way that advocates of creationism may neither argue for their position nor dispute the claims of the scientific establishment.  This makes it impossible to question whether what is being told about evolution is actually true.  And those who attempt to argue for intelligent design/creationism are accused of trying to insert religion into the argument.  Second, what evidence proves that life evolved from nonliving molecules and where did the nonliving molecules come from?  If John believes in evolution then he is the product of a purposeless and unsupervised process.  Which raises the question, ‘if scientific theories are the result of the motion of atoms in the brain that are produced by an unguided, random, mindless process why should I believe them?’  Isn’t an argument that purports to derive rationality from irrationality logically incoherent?   On a personal note, I would think that a farmer who is exposed daily to the macro (the land, equipment, etc.) and the micro (a seed becoming a crop) wonders of this world would see the need for intelligent design.  Dave Sauers

#4:  I'm a viewer in eastern Idaho (and co-owner of a small family farm in Boone County, Iowa). I really enjoy the show, but it would be great to know what the roundtable participants are talking about when they throw around all these technical terms and phrases that sound like Greek to me. Do you (or could you) guys publish a glossary that defines these terms? I can't think of any examples right now, but you probably know what I'm talking about. Thanks, and keep up the good work. Mike McCoy - Victor, Idaho


#5:  Dear John, with hope of the shutdown and debt ceiling looking to be imminently resolved...Thank God…The Farm Aid Bill needs to be properly written/passed ....and the indirect agriculture support of food stamps and WIC must be fully funded to get farmers and people through this year of drought and flood impact shortages and higher prices ...

 AND....a new issue: climate change/warming promises to cause ocean rises of 39 cm within 15-20 yrs....which will cause shoreline property losses as well as increased storm/rising tides damage...backing up all rivers which empty into the ocean causing more flooding/loss of property along rivers ... this would probably prompt people/businesses to relocate further inland, putting pressures on Agricultural farmland, putting temptations of high land price offers out ...and essential farmland needed to maintain food independence and feed the world could be lost to rezoning at the hands of greedy business, selfish people, and corrupt or stupid politicians.

SUGGESTION: now, before all these dynamics start to work through the country, is the time to protect farmland with PERMANENT FARMLAND ZONING which once enacted cannot be revoked.... Pearlene Denault

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