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USFR Weekly Recap - December 18-19, 2010

December 20, 2010

THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT
EPISODE #1949
DECEMBER 18-19, 2010


JOHN’S OPEN:
HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. SINCE MAY WE'VE FOLLOWED TWO FAMILIES IN THE EASTERN CORN BELT AS THEY WORK TO MAKE GOOD OPERATIONS EVEN BETTER. WE CALL IT "THE ULTIMATE FARM QUEST". DOUG AND NANCY RUPP OF STRYKER, OHIO AND LEON AND JENNIFER KNIRK OF QUINCY, MICHIGAN ALLOWED US TO FOLLOW THEM THROUGH THE GROWING SEASON AS THEY PARTNERED WITH A TEAM OF EXPERTS TO IMPROVE ALL ASPECTS OF THEIR BUSINESS. THIS WEEKEND, WE FIND OUT WHAT THEY LEARNED - AND HOW THEIR EXPERIENCE CAN HELP OTHERS. WES MILLS BEGINS OUR COVERAGE.

ROUNDTABLE: ULTIMATE FARM QUEST PARTICIPANTS, LEON KNIRK AND DOUG RUPP.

JOHN’S WORLD: THIS WEEK WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO OBSERVE IN CONSIDERABLE DETAIL HOW TWO FARM FAMILIES ARE WORKING TO MAKE THEIR FARMS MORE PROFITABLE. THE KEY TO THIS PROCESS WAS GATHERING AND THEN ACTING UPON OUTSIDE ADVICE. THIS IS NOT AS EASY AS IT SOUNDS. THERE IS A STRONG ETHIC IN AMERICAN AGRICULTURE OF SELF-RELIANCE, OR AT MOST, COLLABORATION WITH PEERS ONLY. AS MANY FARM SPOUSES WILL TESTIFY WE DON'T DO ADVICE WELL. THIS IS NOT ALL BAD, AND SELF-CONTAINED, DISCIPLINED ENTREPRENEURS WERE THE KEY PLAYERS IN THE PROCESS OF BRINGING OUR VAST FARMLANDS UNDER CULTIVATION. BUT THAT WAS THEN. TODAY FARMERS ROUTINELY DEPLOY SOPHISTICATED TECHNOLOGY AND FINANCIAL TOOLS TO COMPETE. AND THE CHOICE OF TOOLS CHANGES CONSTANTLY AND RAPIDLY. I KNOW SOME PRODUCERS WHO DO REMARKABLE JOBS KEEPING UP WITH THE GROWING COMPLEXITY OF FARM MANAGEMENT, BUT I ALSO KNOW THE SUBTLE COSTS THIS ENTAILS. BECAUSE WE OFTEN MAINTAIN OUR LABOR FORCE AT THE BARE MINIMUM, THE PROCESS OF STAYING CURRENT AND COMPETITIVE TOO OFTEN SOAKS UP EVERY MINUTE WE HAVE TO SPARE. THE ONE-MAN BAND APPROACH MAY BE AN EGO-BOOSTING, BUT IT NOW THREATENS TO ROB MUCH OF THE SATISFACTION FROM OUR WORK BY REDUCING US TO WORKAHOLICS. LIKE OTHERS, I AM RELUCTANT TO ASK FOR AND ESPECIALLY PAY FOR ADVICE. BUT I AM ALSO GROWING MORE AWARE OF THE HIDDEN COSTS OF THIS DUBIOUS VIRTUE.

2ND HALF:
JOHN’S OPEN:
HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. IN AN ASTONISHING BURST OF PRODUCTIVITY, CONGRESS PASSED A COMPROMISE TAX BILL THIS WEEK AFTER MONTHS OF WHEEL-SPINNING. AS FRUSTRATING AS IT IS TO WATCH OUR LEGISLATIVE PROCESS IN FITFUL ACTION, I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND COMMEND THE ENORMOUS EFFORT NOW NEEDED TO GET ANYTHING DONE. HAS SOME OF THE IMPLICATIONS FOR AGRICULTURE IN THE NEWS. MOST CURIOUS TO ME WAS OF ALL MANY ELEMENTS IT WAS THE ESTATE TAX COMPROMISE THAT PROVED TO BE THE MAJOR IRRITANT. NOW COUPLE THAT ITEM WITH THE NEWS ABOUT LAND VALUES, AND FARMERS WHO THINK THEIR ESTATE PLAN ISSUES ARE GOING TO SOLVE THEMSELVES COULD BE MISTAKEN. LET'S GET STARTED WITH THE HEADLINES AND AL PELL....

TAX UPDATE: THANKS JOHN. MUCH WAS AT STAKE FOR AGRICULTURE AS DEBATE OVER A ONE-TRILLION DOLLAR TAX PACKAGE DOMINATED CAPITOL HILL THIS WEEK. IT PASSED CONGRESS LATE THURSDAY NIGHT. THE BILL INCLUDES A PROVISION THAT WILL RAISE THE ESTATE TAX EXEMPTION TO FIVE MILLION DOLLARS AND SET A RATE OF 35%. IT ALSO EXTENDS TAX CREDITS FOR ETHANOL AND BIO-DIESEL. KNOWN AS VEETEK, THE PACKAGE KEEPS THE ETHANOL BLEND CREDIT AT ITS CURRENT LEVEL OF 45-CENTS A GALLON UNTIL THE END OF NEXT YEAR. ALSO INCLUDED IS A 54-CENT TARIFF ON IMPORTED ETHANOL AND A REINSTATEMENT OF THE BIODIESEL TAX CREDIT THAT EXPIRED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR. A VOCAL SUPPORTER OF BIO-FUEL INCENTIVES SAYS ETHANOL IN PARTICULAR HAS BEEN UNFAIRLY SINGLED OUT IN RECENT MONTHS...GRASSLEY BELIEVES THE CREDITS WILL PROVIDE A MUCH NEEDED SPARK FOR THE BIOFUELS INDUSTRY AND PUT THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE BACK TO WORK.

IOWA STATE LAND VALUES: NEW NUMBERS FROM IOWA STATE SHOWS THE VALUE OF PRIME AMERICAN FARMLAND IS HOLDING STRONG. STATEWIDE, ISU REPORTS THE AVERAGE PRICE TOPPED MORE THAN $5,000 AN ACRE. THE STRONGEST VALUES WERE FOUND IN O'BRIEN COUNTY IN NORTHWEST IOWA WHERE THE AVERAGE PRICE EXCEEDED MORE THAN $7,100 AN ACRE. MIKE WALSTEN IS EDITOR OF PRO FARMER'S LAND-OWNER NEWSLETTER.

NUTRITION BILL: ALSO THIS WEEK, LEGISLATION AIMED AT FEEDING HUNGRY SCHOOL KIDS IS NOW LAW. PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNED THE CHILD NUTRITION ACT ON MONDAY. ACCOMPANIED BY HIS WIFE, THE PRESIDENT SIGNED THE BILL AT AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN WASHINGTON. THE 4.5 BILLION DOLLAR MEASURE EXPANDS FREE MEALS FOR LOW-INCOME STUDENTS. IT ALSO GIVES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MORE AUTHORITY ON WHAT FOODS ARE ALLOWED IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS - INCLUDING VENDING MACHINES AND FUND-RAISERS. ALONG WITH FEEDING A GROWING NUMBER OF KIDS IN NEED, SUPPORTERS SAY THE LAW WILL COMBAT HEALTH CARE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH CHILDHOOD OBESITY. OPPONENTS SAY IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE AND AN EXAMPLE OF GOVERNMENT OVER-REACH.

HEARTLAND: GINGERBREAD HOUSES: NOTHING MAKES A MORE IMPRESSIVE - AND TASTY - HOLIDAY CENTERPIECE THAN A GINGERBREAD HOUSE. IN TENNESSEE, THEY'RE TEACHING THE NEXT GENERATION HOW TO MAKE THE CANDIED HOUSES. IN THIS REPORT FROM UT, CHUCK DENNEY SHOWS US THE RESULT OF HOLIDAY CREATIVITY. CHUCK TELLS US A NUMBER OF THE GINGERBREAD HOUSES WERE ENTERED IN GATLINBURG'S "FESTIVAL OF TREES" CELEBRATION, AN EVENT THAT BENEFITS THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN RESCUE MINISTRY. NEXT WEEK, CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY'S WITH US AS WE PRESENT "CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY". OUR STOPS WILL INCLUDE A CHRISTMAS TREE FARM IN THE HOOSIER STATE THAT RELIES ON RESCUED PETS TO GET THE JOB DONE. "CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY" AIRS NEXT WEEKEND ON U.S. FARM REPORT.

BAXTER BLACK: TIME NOW FOR OUR BI-WEEKLY VISIT FROM BAXTER BLACK. THIS WEEKEND, BAXTER BRINGS US HIS PERSONAL FASHION FAVORITE...IN TWO WEEKS, BAXTER IS BACK TO TELL US HOW "TRACTO" THERAPY WORKS. UNTIL THEN, CHECK OUT HIS WORK ONLINE AT WWW.BAXTERBLACK.COM . WHEN WE COME BACK, TRACTOR TALES AND OUR COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE...PLEASE STAY WITH US.

TRACTOR TALES: WE'RE GOING BACK IN TIME FOR THIS WEEK'S TRACTOR TALES. ALABAMA COLLECTOR DONALD WRIGHT INTRODUCES US TO AN ANTIQUE OIL PULL ENGINE THAT'S BEEN MODIFIED, JUST A BIT.

CHURCH SALUTE: LET'S BEGIN OUR COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE WITH THE MAPLE VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH IN MOUNT HOPE, WEST VIRGINIA. THEY CELEBRATED THEIR CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY LAST SEPTEMBER.  THE CHURCH STILL MEETS IN THE ORIGINAL SANCTUARY AND SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION ARE DESCENDENTS OF THE FOUNDERS. THE CHURCH HAS BEEN A FAITHFUL WITNESS AND COMMUNITY SERVANT, AS WELL AS CONTRIBUTING MISSIONARIES TO WORLD. RANDY WARDEN IS THE PASTOR AND SENT US THE INFORMATION. WE ALSO HONOR THE GROVE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF WEST MIDDLETOWN, PENNSYLVANIA. THEIR 200 YEARS OF SERVICE BEGAN IN A CHURCH THAT WAS USED UNTIL 1860. THE 182 MMEMBERS MARKED THE OCCASION WITH SPECIAL SERVICES THIS OCTOBER. THE CURRENT BUILDING - THEIR THIRD CHURCH HOME - HAS BEEN LOVINGLY MAINTAINED AND UPGRADED WITH SEVERAL IMPROVEMENTS. THE CURRENT PASTOR IS REV. DR. JACK EMERICK. WE THANK CORINNE VOGEL. AS ALWAYS WE WANT TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR HOME CHURCH AS WELL... SALUTES CAN BE SENT TO THE ADDRESS ON THE SCREEN. STAY WITH US - THE MAILBAG IS NEXT.

MAILBAG: TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....OUR COVERAGE OF MARKETING RALLY 2010 TRIGGERED SOME PUSHBACK FROM A DICK HOUSE, WHO THOUGHT THE ANALYSTS OVERRATED THEIR VALUE: "WITH ALL THEIR COMBINED "FINAL THOUGHTS", THERE SEEMS TO BE JUST ONE COMMON, PATHETIC THEME: 'YOU PITIFUL FARMERS OUT THERE ARE HELPLESS WITHOUT US!'" DICK, I'M PRETTY SURE THAT WAS NOT WHAT THE ANALYSTS WERE TRYING TO SAY BUT I CAN APPRECIATE HOW IT COULD BE RECEIVED THAT WAY. IN FAIRNESS, I WOULD POINT OUT A COUPLE OF THINGS. FIRST, IN ORDER TO GET ALL 15 ADVISORS A CHANCE TO COMMENT, WE DIDN'T GIVE THEM MUCH TIME, AND SO IT WAS NATURAL FOR THEM TO SPEAK UP FOR THEIR SERVICES. IMAGINE IF 15 FARMERS HAD A CHANCE TO SEND A 45 SECOND MESSAGE TO SEVERAL THOUSAND LANDOWNERS, FOR EXAMPLE. AFTER ABOUT 10 OR SO THE EFFECT CAN BE INADVERTENTLY IRRITATING. SECOND, THERE IS AN OLD EXPRESSION "NEVER ASK A BARBER IF YOU NEED A HAIRCUT" THAT COULD APPLY HERE. NO MATTER HOW WELL YOU DO MARKETING YOU CAN ALWAYS DO BETTER, AND OUR MARKET PROS ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF HELPING MAKE THAT HAPPEN. BUT AFTER SEVERAL MARKETING MEETINGS THIS MONTH, I THINK THERE IS ANOTHER ATTITUDE FLOATING AROUND. WHEN PRICES ARE SURPRISINGLY GOOD, THE PERCEIVED VALUE OF ADVISORS DECLINES. WHO NEEDS HELP SELLING $5.50 CORN OR $12.50 BEANS, RIGHT? BUT WHAT CAN BE OVERLOOKED IN THIS SHINING MOMENT IS THE EMOTIONAL TOLL OUR VERY VOLATILE MARKETS CAN EXACT. FOR ME THE VALUE OF ADVICE IS TO OUTSOURCE NO SMALL AMOUNT OF ANXIETY AND SELF-RECRIMINATION. AS ALWAYS, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, SEND COMMENTS TO INFO@USFARMREPORT.COM OR LEAVE US A VOICE MAIL AT 800-792-4329.
 

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