Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas. The old-fashioned kind with cold, gray rains falling slowly for hours on unfrozen fields. Muddy tracks in the kitchen; dripping coats by the door, and gloomy afternoons that make winter days seem even shorter. Ah - happy memories. I've discovered nostalgia can be arranged to fit your mood, and I’m mood for liquid to replenish desiccated soils. Snow may be pretty, but it doesn't pack the moisture punch we need to lighten up the drought map. So when Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney appear on your TV this season, you sing along your words, I’ll sing mine.
As the odds of passing a comprehensive farm bill look slim before the new year, disagreement over safety net particulars continues. Meanwhile, the animal ID system could be introduced in the next month. During our visit to the nation’s capital, we visited with AG Secretary Tom Vilsack. He says traceability of animal diseases is important in negotiating with trade partners and USDA is currently finalizing the rules, which will be implemented soon. The CME group has finished its acquisition of the KC board of trade. That move combines CME's futures and options in soft red winter wheat with Kansas City’s' hard red winter wheat market.
crop watch this week.
Our weekly marketing roundtable. Mike North and Pete Meyer join us.
Along with buying the wrong gifts for family members and wrestling with year-end accounting, farmers suddenly have realized they have another urgent task this month. The looming fiscal cliff and soaring land values have combined to create an estate planning crisis that many producers have studiously ignored for too long, hoping it would somehow go away. So we have farmland appraisers and attorneys working like Santa’s elves to take advantage of a tax-free gifting window that slams shut on new year's eve. While the AG media have been talking about this ad nauseas for two years, our fabled procrastination skills and deep attachment to our acres have many rushing to beat the clock. But it could be worth the hassle. I think the most optimistic outcome of fiscal cliff negotiations will leave even modest-sized farms with considerable tax exposure due to property values which have merely quadrupled in the last ten years. The estate tax also is scored by the CBO to generate about $100b over the next decade. Finding an offsetting spending cut or alternative revenue won't be easy. While the estate tax is not particularly good at preventing wealth concentration in agriculture, it is very progressive - only the wealthy pay it. As austerity gains popularity, easing or repealing it will be much harder, I think. If nothing else, this frantic accounting exercise has forced many more of us to finally admit that compared to most Americans, we are rich.
Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. As Americans grow more aware of the jaw-dropping economic impact of the energy boom here in the U.S., the localized costs are also beginning to sink in. I talked with ranchers from the Bakken oil field area and heard how the bonanza is pretty narrowly distributed. Many farms had sold the mineral rights long ago, so farmers who are now coping with drilling traffic, construction crew invasions, and overburdened infrastructure enjoy none of the wealth. Meanwhile efforts to build pipelines and power lines will stir up farmers all over the country. Our nation will gain much from this energy surprise, but the cost will not be trivial.
Despite concerns about low-river levels on the Mississippi, a spokesman the Corps of Engineers says there's no immediate plans to close the river to barge traffic. When it comes to the apple crop this year, it appears the industry was able to overcome terrific weather challenges in the eastern United States. As we reported earlier this year, a spring freeze devastated the Michigan apple crop and took a bite in New York as well. Remember those Kansas farm boys who became famous when their "I’m farming and I grow it" video went viral? Well, they're at it again. Check this out.
That’s it for news...Meteorologist Mike Hoffman joins us now with the national forecast.
SPIRIT OF THE HEARTLAND:
Dairy operators are looking for creative ways to set them apart from other dairy producers. In this report from AgDay affiliate KY3 TV, Steve Grant tells us about one dairy farm family which found a wave to keep business from going sour.
Farming comes with its risks and rewards, no matter what you raise or grow. For clam farmers in Florida, low market prices are creating challenging times. Hope is in the horizon as clam farmers are gearing up for the holiday season and expect prices to be on the rise. Tyne Morgan takes us to Cedar Key, Florida to show us just what it takes to be a clammer.
Al, I hear this week's collector has a special ear for certain tractors, is that right?" Absolutely John! But his ear likes a very particular sound.
And we're staying in the show-me state for our country church salute. The Timber Ridge Baptist church was formed in 1842. It was a 12-foot by 12-foot log building with six charter members. During the civil war, the battle of sand springs was fought near the church. Union soldiers were buried in the timber ridge cemetery. Because of growth, a new building was built in 1880's and again in 1920. And just this past June, they broke ground on yet another new structure. Church member Richard Mann says Timber Ridge has a vibrant children and youth ministry to continue help grow the church.
Time now to hear from you via the Farm Report mailbag. John Steffen asks if land prices are in a bubble or if there is another explanation.