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June 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.

Ethanol's Unintended Consequences

Jun 14, 2011

John,
Being a retired dairy farmer I might be somewhat biased, but do you not see the unintended consequences of farm state Senators pushing the ethanol program?

1. Yes high grain prices help now but wages are not going up. What will happen to public opinion as they see you get government payments while they cannot afford the food?
2. You are driving up your fixed costs which you can now pay, but what happens when the fertilizer hits the fan?
3. What happens to the farm bill when you all make tremendous profits at the expense of the average American?
4. What are you doing to your primary market? Do you really believe that the poultry, pork, or beef producers will be able to stay in business? I already see sales without buyers.
5. What happens when the people see that ethanol has driven up grain prices? Do you think ethanol will survive? I think when the angry, hungry people descend on Washington
with fire in their eyes ethanol from corn will be gone forever. You will face years without government payments, without markets, and with high input costs.

If you were ahead of the curve you would push your Reps and Senators to shut down ethanol until prices stabilize at a level that lets the livestock industry supply meat at a price the public can pay. You would be far better off taking $6/bu for corn for years than $10/bu this year and have no market and be hated by your fellow Americans next year.
John Geis
Addison, NY

Chocolate Milk Please, but with Less Sugar

Jun 10, 2011

   I watch US Farm Report every week, thanks to DVR.  I'm female, a retired nurse, homemaker, avid gardener, raised 4 boys.  
   I don't know what is so hard about deciding whether to keep chocolate milk in school lunches.  If sugar is the only problem that is faced in providing this nutritious food to children, then dang it, switch to artificial sweetener! I would hate to see children, or any age person, to stop drinking chocolate milk and losing calcium, vitamin D, protein, etc., if switching from sugar to one of the current sweeteners would let them continue to gain the benefits of milk. 
    Why is this such a seemingly difficult problem?  It is a very simple solution to a very simple problem.  I'm sure you have devoted enough time on your program to this subject, but perhaps forwarding this suggestion to those that are pondering it will help out.

Thanks for listening.
Beverly Unck

Sharing the Budget Cutting Pain

Jun 07, 2011

   John, you mentioned the traditional subsidies paid to farmers kind of like business as usual, but questioned whether this is really necessary ongoing.  I agree, especially in these times of record-high prices of commodities.  For Vilsack to indicate to Congress that we all need to share in the pain of cuts, but USDA has borne a greater share of cuts than other departments is not meaningful.  USDA has a huge budget.  Are the cuts greater in dollars or percentagewise?  On the other hand, so what?  When times are robust for farmers now, it is foolish to continue subsidies that are exorbitant.  Rather, that creates a common sense opportunity to make cuts because they will not be felt now.  This does not mean there are no subsidies in the future but it is looking at reality and trying to set priorities, since typically no one group offers any cuts.  This requires strong backbones as all special interest groups crowd around the trough.

   Thanks, and I love your show.  You guys do a great job!  I enjoy your personal commentary, too, John.  Roger Shipp - Eden Prairie, MN

***Editor's Note:  Below is a transcript of John's comments referred to in the viewers comments...

THE PROCESS OF WRITING A NEW FARM BILL HAS BEGUN AGAIN IN A NEW AND RATHER HARSH POLITICAL CLIMATE. MOST FARM BILL SUPPORTERS ACKOWLEDGE THERE WILL BE CUTBACKS, BUT THERE THE CONSENSUS ENDS.

BEFORE WE GET TOO FAR INTO THIS DEBATE, I WOULD LIKE TO TACKLE TWO OVERUSED ARGUMENTS THAT CONTRIBUTE LITTLE. THE FIRST IS THE IDEA THAT AG SHOULDN'T SEE LARGER PERCENTAGE CUTS THAN OTHER SECTORS OF THE FEDERAL BUDGET.

THE IDEA IS MISTAKENLY BASED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT ALL USES OF FEDERAL DOLLARS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY. FOR DIRECT PAYMENTS TO CROPS NOW SEEING RECORD PRICES THIS IS HARD TO JUSTIFY. BUT IT ALSO MEANS THE DISTRIBUTION OF FEDERAL DOLLARS IN THE CURRENT BUDGET IS THE GOLDILOCKS SOLUTION - JUST RIGHT AS IT IS. AGAIN THIS IS ILLOGICAL.

THE SECOND STANDARD DEFENSE FARM SUBSIDIES IS THEY ONLY CONSTITUTE A TEEENSY PORTION OF THE FEDERAL BUDGET. THIS IS TRUE, BUT IF THAT EXCUSES $25 BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR FROM SCRUTINY, THEN ALL OTHER PROGRAMS THAT SIZE GET A PASS AS WELL. THIS TOO-SMALL-TO MATTER EXEMPTION WOULD LEAVE THE EPA, IRS, NASA, NOAA, PUBLIC TELEVISION - AND YOU GET THE IDEA.

GETTING FEDERAL DOLLARS NOW IS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR CONTINUING TO GET PUBLIC DOLLARS. BUDGET CUTS SHOULD BE MADE ACCORDING COST-BENEFIT CALCULATIONS, NOT ENTITLEMENT PRECEDENCE.

FOR GROWERS SEEING HISTORICALLY HIGH PRICES, THAT COULD PRESENT A PROBLEM. NEITHER MY $25 PER ACRE DIRECT PAYMENT OR A LOAN LEVEL OF $2 IS KEEPING ME IN BUSINESS.

 

Chocolate Milk: A Good Option for Kids???

Jun 06, 2011

Editor's Note:  The following comments were received in response to the Mailbag segment focused on chocolate milk that aired this past weekend on U.S. Farm Report.  We've posted the viewer comments first, followed by a transcript of John's comments...

#1:  As a nurse, I see many kids that live on pop and chips...or only drink chocolate milk.  What if the chocolate and sugar is just cut in half?  I bet the kids will still drink it and be healthier for them.

#2:  While they are at it, they could remove all other unhealthy, particularly pre-packaged, processed food from school menus. I personally avoid restaurants with Gordon Food trucks parked out front. There is an initiative to get locally grown food into schools; that's great!  Jenny Gray - Cadillac, MI

FARM REPORT MAILBAG:

TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....

A FEW WEEKS AGO WE HAD A STORY ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES SCHOOL BOARD CONSIDERING A BAN ON CHOCOLATE MILK IN SCHOOL LUNCHES. WE HAD A FLURRY OF REPLIES, OUTRAGED AT FURTHER GOVERNMENT INTRUSION. HERE IS ONE EXAMPLE FROM SHANNON BOYNKIN.

"WHAT HAPPENED TO FREEDOM OF CHOICE? I HAVE THREE BOYS THAT IT IF WASN'T FOR THE CHOCOLATE IN THE MILK THEY WOULDN'T DRINK IT."

FIRST OF ALL I THINK REFERENCES TO A NANNY STATE ARE OFF THE MARK HERE. THE LA SCHOOL BOARD IS HUGE BUT IT IS STILL A LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNIT - NOT A FEDERAL AGENCY. HAVING BEEN MARRIED TO A SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT, I THINK THIS IS THE APPROPRIATE LEVEL FOR SUCH A DECISION. REMEMBER, WHEN SODA MACHINES LARGELY DISAPPEARED FROM SCHOOLS THERE WAS LITTLE OUTCRY.

EVEN THE DAIRY INDUSTRY RECOGNIZES HOW MUCH SUGAR IS IN FLAVORED MILK AND IS TRYING TO DECREASE IT. AND DAIRY SUPPORTERS POINT OUT THAT MILK CONSUMPTION DROPS DRASTICALLY WITHOUT FLAVORING.

THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE DECREASE IN SUGAR IS OUTWEIGHED BY THE LOSS OF OTHER NUTRIENTS SUCH AS CALCIUM, POTASSIUM AND VITAMIN D. LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS, IT IS A CLOSE CALL CONSIDERING OUR OBESITY-PRONE SOCIETY.

TAKING STEPS TO LOWER CHILDHOOD OBESITY IS ONE KEY TO TACKLING OUR NATIONAL HEALTH COST BATTLE. BUT THE MORE ALARMING PROBLEM FOR OUR DAIRY INDUSTRY IS HOW AMERICAN TASTES HAVE BEEN TRAINED FOR SWEET FOODS, AND TODAY THEIR MAIN PRODUCT DOES NOT SELL WELL WITHOUT SUGAR ADULTERATION.

 

 

 

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