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John Block Reports from Washington

RSS By: John Block, AgWeb.com

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

Ten Days In Europe

Aug 21, 2008
Back from Europe. I was in Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Germany the last 10 days, riding a bicycle through the picturesque countryside. Beautiful, manicured fields of wheat, corn, potatoes, sunflowers. Europe has a very good crop. The corn has received optimum rainfall; maybe a little too much for the wheat. Some farmers are having a little trouble with their wheat harvest because of the wet weather. I estimate their corn yield at 200 plus bushels per acre. Pretty good!

We spent 3 days in Brussels. That is the headquarters of the European Commission. The Commission estimates the barley yield up 5 percent, corn up 20 percent, wheat up 10 percent. Romanian corn production is estimated to be double what it was last year. France and Italy are registering big increases.

These are impressive numbers. It is no accident. In a free economy, high prices encourage more planted acres and with reasonable weather you get more production. European farmers have lived with a 10 percent set aside for years. But this year – no set aside. It is the European version of planting “fence row to fence row.”

All of this sounds familiar. We have a big crop here in the United States. Corn should be a record yield. Our prices have come off their record high – just like Europe. Our farmers are in a positive mood. So are the European farmers. One difference – we complain about $4.00 gasoline. They pay more like $10 or $12 per gallon.

Looking back, it was a wonderful trip. Enjoying beautiful fields of growing crops, farmers harvesting wheat, baling straw, cattle grazing, fat sheep munching green pastures. That’s what I’ll see next week when I walk the fields and check our own corn down on the farm in Illinois. I’ll report to you what I find.

Until next week, I am John Block back from Europe.

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