Jul 28, 2014
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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: Metric System and Political Leanings

Jun 30, 2014

 Editor’s Note:  The following comments were received following the June 28-29, 2014 edition of U.S. Farm Report…

VIEWER REACTION #1:  I'm sorry but after World War II we had conquered the Germans and Japanese.  It was at that point that we should have imposed our system upon the world since we paid to restore Europe.  It would have been easy to make the inch the "centi-inch", the yard the "yeter", the quart the liter etc.  We were in a rush to be so European.  The Engineers and Surveyors routinely use inches, feet, and yards in 10ths so it could have been done.  I don't want to be French so let's continue with our measurement system whether France likes it or not.  Tom Jacques - Hartville, MO

VIEWER REACTION #3:  Mr. Phipps, thanks for your fine job….now comes the "but".  Please, since you are well educated, please consider this.  In your commentary on Sunday June 29, 2014 I think maybe you appear to be somewhat misinformed on the ways of our Governmental process.  Many of our procedures are based on Rome and Greek Law.  We have a system of checks and balances.  Each Branch has a purpose.  The executive branch executes the laws.  The congress takes issues and hopefully passes laws by the will of the people.  The Supreme Court is to test the Constitutionality of measures passed by Congress and executed by the president.  This is our process. Now to your premise of gridlock – liberal and conservative - the wings of the parties are becoming more extreme – yes…but why?  Our nation has survived by only one premise – the rule of law - the Constitution.  In my opinion the real battle is the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party thinks the constitution is a living, breathing document.  The new very conservatives believe the constitution is the law, unyielding to the whims of people.  If you have a legal document that can be changed by the wishes of man and because man is a fallen, selfish creature, he will work the system to his favor.  These new, so called tea-party conservatives believe in the strict interpretation of the constitution.  So where in lies the war or gridlock that you mentioned.  We as a nation need to make a decision – The rule of the law or anything goes.

Craig Winters - A North Iowa Farmer

P.S.  Was in Central Illinois last week – to Lincoln.  Do you have a corn crop or what!!!

VIEWER REACTION #3:  I did see your discussion of the metric system and did see your request for listener ideas on this as an issue. I did not get the email address or site location you flashed on the screen. I tried various searches and could not locate it. I would like to discuss the views you talked about.  The metric system is not a perfect system. It is an arbitrary system. It is a conditional system. It is an authoritarian system.  One may say it is based on 'tens', but a metric minute is based on the Babylonian system with 60 as its base. It does no better at defining 'zero' than any other system. When working internationally on programs, I found one country using millimeter, another centimeter, and another meters. It is very non-standard in Europe as well. One uses a zero point, for locations on the aircraft, defined way up front of the aircraft, another uses a point way below the aircraft. Zero is not defined, and its conditions are acknowledged. The metric system is a system devised by a dictator and to accomplish his intentions, the intentions of a dictator; Napoleon. Napoleon did not win his war, the rest of the world did.  
                In college, MSU, I had to memorize a German poem; 'If Germany had won the war' [Wenn wir das kreig gewonnen hetten.] by Erick Kestner. It talks about what the world would look like if Germany had won the war. Germany used the metric system. They had the best scientists of the day, we are told. American politicians believed this and after the war they employed only German rocket scientists to employ and technically run our Space Program. These German Engineers were no better than, and probably far worse than Goddard, aka The Father of Modern Rocketry who achieved the first successful flight with a liquid-propellant rocket on March 16, 1926. Van Braun and the other German scientists had employed slave labor, in Germany, to accomplish their ends. American rocket people could have been hired, people could have been trained in rocketry and by Oct of 1957 when Russia launched and orbited 'Sputnik' we would have had a better technical program in America. For one decade, working on the goal 'to place a man on the moon, in this decade.' America made strides in technical things. Germany did not win the war. The metric system did not win it either. American know-how placed a man on the moon, and brought him home.  These days the Department of Defense, DARPA, says the United States has lost a vital national resource and it must be replenished. Israel and Japan are providing the technical innovation at the heart of many DOD projects. It is not supplied by Americans. Others are being employed to supply such technology, just like after WWII. DARPA is once again playing catch up, where American Education has failed them. American Education promotes the metric system heavily, and fails to teach innovation, initiative, inventiveness, and decreases intelligence.
                The metric system is a system employed by tyrants. It is an authoritarian system. That being said, if it were a 'perfect system' I would consider it seriously. If it had a technical advantage over some other system, not just an arbitrary choice from a tyranny with no other difference from any other system, I would consider it. If anyone actually proposed building 'a perfect system' I would applaud it. Define zero. If it is to be conditional, then define it that way. If a length is defined in terms of an arbitrary (a platinum-iridium bar in a vacuum enclosed chamber in the Louvre in Paris, France), say it is an arbitrary, don't say it defines space. Don't say that it is any different, or more perfect, than the platinum-iridium bar in a vacuum enclosed chamber in the Tower of London, of another workable system. But to accept an arbitrary system from a tyrant that lost the war, or from a political system not in the best interests of the people, or from an educational system that does not know how to provide for students that are the best in the world. No, I don't buy it.  Offer me a better system, not an arbitrary one...at my cost. Tell me how it is conditional, don't leave us hanging with a zero that is not defined, like Einstein using an equation like E = Mc^2, that was derived with an equation where the speed of light was divided by zero, or we could say, not valid at all. Not a high point for German Science or the Metric System.  Leon L. Hulett, PE

VIEWER REACTION #4:   I am a long-time viewer. Your program has gotten to be very boring. The first half is a total waste. I disagree with John Phipps liberal views 90% of the time.  Put together a program of interesting stories. Help promote agriculture to the 99% of the people not engaged in farming.  (It’s) time for John Phipps to go.  Merle Anderson


Viewers Respond to John's Comments on Military Service

Jun 16, 2014

***Editor’s Note:  The Farm Report Mailbag last weekend generated quite a bit of response.  Below are John’s comments followed by viewer feedback…

FARM REPORT MAILBAG:   Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag.  My memorial commentary prompted objections from Paul who had questions about my service.  "John is probably one of the National Guard troops who thought they could be a parasite and not have to ever serve in a war zone."  Paul, I read your email carefully and think i understand your strong opposition to my opinions.  I think your characterization of the National Gard is inaccurate and unfair, even though that was not my branch.  From 1970 to 1975 i served as a nuclear submarine engineering officer aboard the USS Seahorse SSN 669 out of Charleston, South Carolina. My somewhat unglamorous job was to keep the screw turning and the lights burning. Other than several hundred feet of very cold Atlantic water over my head most of my tour i was not in harm's way, so to speak. I was away from home two nights out of three, however, because the navy was struggling to find sub engineers.  It is pointless in my opinion to rank different tours of duty on a scale of danger or daring. They also serve who sit and wait. And while I served without distinction perhaps, I also served without dishonor. My experiences profoundly shaped my attitudes toward national defense, and I always keep in mind that thoughtless reactions to every global development can mean sending some other young person from a farm into a threatening world. Given the ambiguous results of our last half-century of military interventions, I think we should pick our battles more carefully.

VIEWER COMMENT #1:  I just heard you tell about your military service and, in my opinion, you DID serve with distinction.  My experience was similar.  My years were 1955 to 1959 in "the other part of the Navy" and I did whatever I was told to do.  When my son was 17 and played American Legion baseball, the coach asked if I would be a member so I could sit on the bench with the team.  It was then I found that the American Legion thought my four years were "unsuitable" and I was denied membership.  I am sure you did what was asked of you and that you did it well.  Even though I am not a farmer, I find we agree on many points you comment on.  Keep up the good work and I will do my best to keep listening.  Charlie Shirkey - Bowling Green, OH

VIEWER COMMENT #2:  I am constantly impressed with his editorial skills….a very thoughtful man who unlike most seems to search out information instead of affirmation.  As a minor player in ag production I very much appreciate what you have say from the budget solutions to military service.  And by the way John, thank you so much for your service!  Bob Garner

VIEWER COMMENT #3:  I just want to thank you for your military service AND your comments about how this nation should "pick its battles" more carefully.  I could not agree with you more.  My husband served 22 years in the USAF and is a veteran of the 1st Gulf War and was still active duty for the 2nd, but saw little time in the sandbox that rotation.  When he left for Desert Shield/Storm the 1st week of January 1991, I wondered "what war" would be in store for my then 4 year old son.  When 9-11 happened, I knew we'd end up back in Iraq too.  And here Iraq looks as if it will implode again.  We have accomplished nothing.  I'm sorry.  I am not writing to whine or push my political beliefs on anyone.  I am frustrated and wanted to thank you for saying what I hope someone in DC will hear.  When my children were in high school in the early 2000's, the district they were zoned into did not allow JROTC.  So I became involved in Civil Air Patrol partly to help provide that option to students who were interested.  Since then, the adult portion of our unit is made up of several retired and some active duty senior members.  Our active duty officer senior member is the most outspoken adult refusing to allow recruiters to speak to the cadets because he feels they lie.  Therefore WE answer the Cadets questions about military service.  At this point, I believe our country is (regardless of who is in the White House) making such bad decisions about the use of this nation's military, that I no longer encourage military service, but instead encourage local law enforcement or EMS service.  If a Cadet wants to fly, I encourage commitment into the Coast Guard (not that Coasties don't ever get shipped out to war zones too). The point I am making is that I believe we are putting our nations’ best and brightest in harms way for no return on the risk.  I can't think of ANYTHING in Afghanistan worth ONE American life.  That population is not interested in the same values as us, and as soon as we leave, whatever progress we did make, will also leave.  We can't stay there forever.  So what are we doing besides wasting time, money, and lives?   I wish it were different, but I just don't think it is. Anyway, thank you for speaking your mind.  Bethany Cox

Hey - meant to also pose the question:  Can you imagine where we'd be if we'd taken ALL the money we've spent on oil wars and put it toward alternative energy?  Ha!!  My husband posed that question to me just after the Gulf War alone...what a waste. 

Viewers Respond to John's Mailbag Comments on EPA

Jun 13, 2014

 ***Editor’s Note:  A recent segment from John Phipps focusing on the EPA and Farm runoff drew quite a bit of response.  Below is a transcript of those comments, followed by viewer feedback:


EPA Mailbag TranscriptWe heard from a fisherman near the Great Lakes concerning the upcoming EPA ruling.  "Nitrogen runoff is the reason the government is asking farmers to create a larger buffer area between cultivated fields and any ditch, creek or watershed area on farms" - James Brancheau. James, thanks for writing and bringing a reminder of what the EPA action is primarily about.  Right now in the farm media the dominant theme is perhaps best illustrated in the number of times the words "power grab" and "over-reach" are repeated in communications about the EPA.  These anti-government code words are unhelpful to say the least.  Farmers are deeply concerned about intrusive regulation of farm runoff because frankly if were held accountable for the quality of water leaving our farms, our Midwest cropping regime would be greatly changed.  This is a complicated debate, and I will be devoting more time to explaining the issue and my views.  Mr. Brancheau’s point is almost always ignored by defenders of the ag status quo.  We are not addressing the problem; we’re fighting possible solutions.  Farms have, in my opinion, imposed burdens on those who share our watersheds.  Economists call these "externalities" – costs like pollution that are not borne by those who enjoy the benefits of the economic activity.  I also believe most farmers at least suspect we are a dominant cause of nitrogen and phosphorus in our water.  

Viewer Response #1:  I am writing today because the main point as to why farmers should have a wider run off protection was the poison green algae that grows as the result if nitrogen run off.  You see that is the reason for the regulation.  There is no other reason there is just too much fertilizer get into our water ways and causing problems to maintain the clarity of our water.  James Brancheau

Viewer Response #2:  The cause of nitrogen in ground water is opinion, not fact. And saying that you agree with the speculation that, in essence, farmers are polluting the groundwater with nitrogen by merely irrigating their own crops simply lends credence to more regulation, the criminalization of business.  The lawless EPA may end up abusing the Clean Water Act to stop us from farming just as they are abusing the Clean Air Act to stop reliable, reasonably priced electricity.  James Adams

Viewer Response #3:  Once again, John, very much right with your comments on the effects of water run-off from farms. Keep up the great work!   We appreciate your level head and wide view of topics. Richard Fassino - Hailey, ID

Viewer Response #4:  I occasionally catch, and enjoy, your show.  I believe I detect a recurring theme in your comments.  "The government giveth and the government taketh away" about gets it. From what I can tell lately the "giving" has been better than the "taking."   So, if farmers think complaining about the government is going to get a lot of public sympathy....I don't think it's gonna happen.  Joe P. Lane - Carthage, TN (age 71 and now merely an observer)

Viewer Response #5:  Hey John, how about it.  Maybe your buddies at EPA can construct some lie.  Plus we don’t need more regulations so your EPA cohorts can fill their bureaucracies with more head count so they can manage the sinkhole on my Kentucky horse farm.  What’s your kickback for defending them anyway?  Darryl Leifheit

John's World: Viewers respond to Memorial Day comments

Jun 10, 2014

 ***Editor’s Note:  John’s commentary that ran Memorial Day weekend generated quite a bit of response.  Below is a transcript of that commentary, followed by viewer response…

John’s World Transcript:  While this happens with depressing regularity now, I realized too late that last weekend was Memorial Day weekend.  The 31st of May is still lodged in my mind I guess.  At any rate, as a veteran I find great meaning in this annual commemoration.  But I also think we could benefit from working to keep our memorials relevant.  This March was a signal month for United States Armed Forces.  For the first time in over a decade, there were no monthly combat fatalities for our troops.  The fact this went largely unremarked by the media is unfortunate.  Ending wars is no longer a joyous celebration, but a back page foreign policy story.  Perhaps General MacArthur’s comment about old soldiers now applies to wars:  They don’t end, they just fade away.  We should have learned by now that modern conflict does not lend itself to World War II models of combat.  Different criteria and logic should apply to the sobering decision to take up arms.  From Korea and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, war simply doesn’t work out like it used to.  This realist should restrain our impulse to use force to solve problems abroad – especially since we too often find out later we grossly misunderstand the cultural and historical context where we intervene.  It is right to remember our honored dead.  I think one way to salute fallen heroes is to make sure there are as few as possible by rededicating ourselves to a greater reluctance to spend lives too cheaply in the expectation of outdated and unrealistic results. 

Viewer Response #1:   Just want to say a big thanks to John Phipps for his commentary regarding our troops…that we should try to avoid in the future such a tragedy as these recent wars is exactly what people need to hear.  I get tired of the parades, and thanking troops for "fighting for our freedom", as we continue to send more over to be maimed or killed for nothing. I left the Air Force in 1998 as a Major, because I saw that little of what the military was doing was defense.   If we were truly endangered, every one of us should be fighting.  My boy went to Afghanistan 3 times, saw much waste, and he got out.  Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex.  We would obviously be safer if we weren't antagonizing the world, but then there would be no money in it.  So we have to keep scaring people, to justify more war, and now the surveillance state. "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY."  --Goering at the Nuremberg Trials.  I opposed this last round of wars and as Goering predicted, my patriotism has been called into question.   And I've been told I don't care about the troops.  And yet thousands have been killed and maimed for no good reason.   You would think if you cared about them, you would save them for when we were under direct attack, and again, then we should all take up arms.   No more sending off somebody else's naïve kids to die.  Anyway, thanks again for your spreading some sense, and letting me vent.  Dale Jenne

Viewer Response #2:  Local VFW closed down because the only members were WWII...Korea, Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq veterans were not as revered....not as proud…should teach arrogant politicians a lesson, one you have already learned.  Darrell - Vietnam veteran


Viewer Response #3:  Bravo!  I couldn't agree more. Hopefully Ike's "industrial military complex" isn't too big a two-headed monster to reign in.  Enjoy your show and your commentaries.  Tom DeCarlo - Johannesburg, MI

Viewer Response #4:  As a retired military service member with multiple tours of duty in war zones in addition to being a veteran I take issue with his liberal and incorrect views. The reason there is no longer a Soviet Union and the changes to China becoming a society that is embracing capitalism is the wars fought in Korea and Vietnam. We bankrupted them to the point where they had to change from internal pressures. Anyone who thinks that our interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan were a mistake are mistaken. The problem has always been the failure of the liberal establishment to support our troops and tying their hands when it comes to pursuing and killing the enemy. I do not know where Phipps served nor for how long. He is probably one of the National Guard troops who thought they could be a parasite and not have to ever serve in a war zone.  Paul

Viewer Response #5:  You are wasting your time working for US Farm Report.  You should be sitting in the White House.  As usual, you are the voice of reason and intelligence.  Seldom do politicians make sense like you do.  Gary Wanderwerf

Viewer Response #6:  Brilliant commentary today on war on U.S. Farm Report.  Chuck Zumbrun

Viewer Response #7:  Comments on "War" today - absolutely spot on!  Richard Fassino - Hailey, ID

Viewers Respond to John's Comments on Higher Education

May 13, 2014

 ***Editor’s Note:  The following comments were received in response to John’s commentary that aired the weekend of May 10-11, 2014.  We are posting John’s comments first, followed by viewer reaction:

John’s World:  "I live about 60 miles from the University of Illinois – the flagship of the extensive public higher education system in my state.  The school is well-regarded…and enormous – over 45,000 students at the Champaign-Urbana campus alone.  The university has a powerful economic impact on the surrounding community.  As one of the premiere land-grand universities, it is a leader in several areas – football being the exception.  But here’s a fact that frankly stunned me.  Fewer than 600 students attend the U of I from truly rural Illinois counties.  Contrast that with an enrollment of over 6,000 Asian students.  My taxpayer dollars at both the state and federal level can’t make our best public university affordable or attractive for rural youth.  Plus, it’s better business for the U of I to admit full-paying foreign students than recruit from the placed in-state that might benefit most from a solid education.  There are many things wrong with higher education in the U.S. – the relentless cost inflation, spiraling student loan debt, more tenured faculty in administration than teaching, and an appalling alcohol-centered student culture.  But the biggest issue I have with public higher education at my land-grant institution is it no longer makes proving a ladder to a better way of life for rural students a priority like it did for my generation.  This college amid the cornfields has drifted away from its heritage."

Viewer Response #1:  Mr. Phipps - thank you for bringing attention to the unwelcoming nature of the University of Illinois toward rural students from Illinois. Our daughter wanted to teach agriculture since she was a freshman in high school. She was accepted to the U of I, but then they started adding to the sticker price. Any ag related major added thousands to the cost of attending. The University of Minnesota, by contrast, was very interested in having her there and at less cost, including out of state tuition. Sarah is now a junior at "The U" and loves it. Kristen, our other daughter, is a freshman at Minnesota and didn't even consider Illinois, although ISU did get some consideration. Our son Thomas, a sophomore in high school, wants to look at Big 10 schools, but does not want to look at Illinois either. I'm afraid by turning off our oldest they lost all three of our kids. Thank you, Lars Lee - Poplar Grove, IL

Viewer Response #2:  Dear John - Your vexation with student enrollment statistics at the University of Ill surprises me.  As an accomplished journalist/reporter, how has the systematic take-over of our economy by foreign (primarily Asian) interests possibly gotten by you?  I challenge you to find one episode of U.S. Farm Report or comparable business newscast over the past several years that does not mention China, Japan or Southeast Asia at least once during the broadcast.  China and/or Japan's shopping moods have totally dominated US commodities exchanges and associated market activities for quite some time.  Economic trickle-down from this alarming dependence on export sales to developing Asian nations has contributed to degradation of individual buying power and quality of life in this country...opportunity for rural college education being a more recent casualty.  Other competition with foreign trade for diesel fuel, heating oil, LP gas, construction materials, textiles, grains, and meat & dairy products continue to seriously restrict availability to the average American consumer.  Could industrial greed possibly be a factor here? Life is "trade-offs."  Clearly, the affordability of a rural college education (or a steak dinner) in this country is being traded for higher profits received from competing foreign trade/sales. Being the research guru that you are, I don't have to remind you that over 46% of all US debt is owned by foreign investors. China is by far the largest owner of publicly held US debt, third only to Social Security Trust and Federal Reserve.  Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong are runners-up. There is an old saying that "paybacks are hell".  Sincerely, Dan Van Schaik - Gordonville, TX

Viewer Response #3:  John, you nailed my observations as well after taking a high school senior there to visit.  I came away thinking this place does not represent itself  very well as a Land Grant Institution that was established to provide a reasonably priced education (I am an Ag major from another Land Grant University in 1984).  As the most expensive institution we visited I was not impressed with the condition of the campus.  I would expect there would be more investment in facilities with the high cost of the education they provide. I'm not sure where all the money goes but, I suppose it’s all the tenured salaries John referenced.  It appeared tired, dated and I have never seen so many window unit air conditioners used on a campus in my life.  Believe me I would overlook all of that if it was somewhat affordable.  But, it was not.  However, the Admissions Coordinator made the most professional appeal to students I have ever sat through.  She did a very nice job.  My daughter is entering the health field and having to spend most of her time in Chicago to complete her education we concluded they had nothing we needed. I came away so disgusted by the cost that I contacted my U.S. Congressman.  She said she had no say in the situation but, it was for the state of Illinois to address.  We found a much more affordable and nicer campus and a better health major program I feel at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Brent Highfill 



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