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John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block,

John Block has dedicated his professional career to the fields of agriculture, food and health.

Tales of a Wet Spring

May 16, 2013

Last week, I was down on the farm in Illinois. I had hoped to watch the corn planter crossing the field – back and forth, back and forth. But, it didn’t happen. It just didn’t get dry enough. This week, the planter is rolling. We could be half done with corn planting, but rain is again in the air. And we haven’t even thought about the soy beans.

The struggle to get the seed in the ground is pretty universal in the Midwest. It makes us worry. The markets don’t know what to do. They are all over the place. Weren’t we worried about drought just yesterday? I think we can still raise a reasonably good crop. Maybe not a record crop. Every year is different. Spoon River, which runs through some of our land, was flooding all over the fields just three weeks ago. It’s down now. We are going to plant those fields.

We have been reading all spring that, with record planting intentions, we will be buried in grain and prices will collapse. Well, maybe now they won’t go down quite as far. We don’t have to have $8 corn, but $3 corn would be hard on the cash flow. The farming business is as volatile and unpredictable as any business. Hold on tight. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. At least we are producing a product that is absolutely essential. Is there anything more vital than food?

When I was on the farm, the weather and planting delay was all I could think about. However, we did have baby pigs born each day. Our mother sows were really shelling them out – three or four litters every day with 12 or more pigs each. The hog market has shown some strength, and that’s encouraging.

The farm economy across the country is strong. We’re going to get a farm bill passed this year. Our exports, although a little slow now, will pick up this fall.

This week, the Farm Broadcasters Association brought a group to Washington to meet with Secretary Vilsack. One evening, we had a reception at the Capitol, and Congressman Collin Peterson, with his band, was playing and singing country songs. That will lift your spirits. I loved it. Maybe that’s why I’m optimistic.

Let’s have a great year.

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