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THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT

EPISODE # 2066

MARCH 16-17, 2013  

 

 

 

As always, we want to hear from you, send comments to mailbag@usfarmreport.com or leave us a voice mail at 800-792-4329.

 

 

 

 

JOHN’S OPEN:

HELLO AND WELCOME TO U-S FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. UNLIKE THE CRASH IN 2007, THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY HAS BEEN DIFFICULT TO CLEARLY INDENTIFY. EVEN WITH GOOD NEWS FROM JOBS REPORTS TO RETAIL SALES TO STOCK PRICES, WE'RE STILL NOT SURE IF THE RECOVERY IS REAL. MY CONVERSATIONS WITH FARMERS HOWEVER HAVE BEEN VERY CLEAR CONCERNING THEIR OUTLOOK: THE PESSIMISM IS ALMOST UNIFORM. IN FACT, I CANNOT REMEMBER A MORE UNIVERSAL CONVICTION THAT WORSE TIMES MUST BE COMING. MUCH OF THIS IS AN ADMISSION THAT THINGS HAVE BEEN REALLY GOOD AND WE CAN'T IMAGINE IT GETTING BETTER. SOME IS DUE TO A DEFENSIVE ATTITUDE IN AG MEDIA. SOME IS JUST THE HABIT OF COMPLAINT. BUT KEEP IN MIND. WEV’E ALL BEEN WRONG BEFORE.

HEADLINES:

THANKS JOHN AND HELLO EVERYONE. TO MAKE ENDS MEET AFTER SEQUESTRATION, USDA WILL FURLOUGH FEDERAL MEAT INSPECTORS - SOME TIME IN JULY. OF COURSE FARM GROUPS AREN'T HAPPY WITH THE CUTS. USDA SAID IT'S CUTTING TEN COMMODITY REPORTS, INCLUDING THE MONTHLY MILK PRODUCTION REPORT. THE NATIONAL MILK PRODUCERS FEDERATION IS UPSET OVER THE SUSPENSION OF THE DATA. NMPF SAYS THAT INFORMATION CAN-NOT BE FOUND BY ANYWHERE ELSE...AND ARE CRITICAL FOR THE INDUSTRY. THE REPORTS ARE SUSPENDED FROM MARCH THROUGH SEPTEMBER. ALSO FROM WASHINGTON. THE AMERICAN SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION SAYS IT'S REVISING ITS STANCE THE FARM BILL. THE GROUP SAYS IT WILL SUPPORT LEGISLATION THAT INCLUDES EXTENDING THE CURRENT COUNTER- CYCLICAL PROGRAM. ASA SAYS IT RECOGNIZES FARMERS IN DIFFERENT REGIONS HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES. NOW TO MARKETS - BASED ON CHINA'S DEMAND AND THE EXPECTATION OF FEWER ACRES IN THE SOUTH, COTTON PRICES REACHED A TEN-MONTH HIGH THIS WEEK. COTTON CLOSED JUST UNDER 91-CENTS A POUND AT MID-WEEK. THE PRICES HAVEN'T BEEN THAT STRONG SINCE LAST APRIL. COTTON ANALYSTS SAY MANY OF THE COTTON ACRES ARE GOING TO CORN THIS SPRING. IMPROVEMENTS CONTINUE IN THE WINTER WHEAT CROP. THAT'S MAINLY DUE TO THE RECENT WINTER STORMS THAT DROPPED SEVERAL INCHES OF MOISTURE. THE CROP IS STARTING TO GREEN-UP. BUT THERE ARE SOME ROUGH CONDITIONS. ABOUT A THIRD OF THE KANSAS WINTER WHEAT CROP IS CALLED POOR TO VERY POOR...A THREE POINT IMPROVEMENT OVER LAST WEEK. 40-PERCENT IS FAIR. OKLAHOMA'S WHEAT CROP HAD A SIX POINT IMPROVEMENT, BUT 41 PERCENT IS STILL POOR TO VERY POOR.  AND TEXAS 44-PERCENT IS POOR TO VERY POOR. A SURVEY OF THE ILLINOIS FARM MANAGERS AND APPRAISERS FOUND THE VALUE OF ILLINOIS FARMLAND COULD SEE BIG GAINS THIS YEAR, BUT PERHAPS NOT THE DOUBLE-DIGIT INCREASES LIKE LAST YEAR. IN A REPORT PUBLISHED BY THE ILLINOIS SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL FARM MANAGERS AND APPRAISERS, THE PRICE OF THE MOST PRODUCTIVE FARMLAND JUMPED BY TWO-THOUSAND DOLLARS AN ACRE DURING THE YEAR-LONG PERIOD. THAT'S A 21-PERCENT HIKE. EVEN "FAIR" FARMLAND SAW A 17-PERCENT INCREASE.

CROP WATCH:

CROP WATCH THIS WEEK.

ROUNDTABLE:

IT'S TIME TO TALK MARKETS. FARM DIRECTOR AL PELL IS JOINED BY TOMMY GRISAFI AND MIKE FLOREZ.

JOHN’S WORLD:

I'VE BEEN AN INTERNET SHOPPING ENTHUSIAST FOR SEVERAL YEARS. BUT ONE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF ORDERING ON-LINE IS THAT YOU NECESSARILY HAND YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS TO SOMEONE. INTERNET RETAILERS WERE AMONG THE FIRST TO BEGIN SOLICITING COMMENTS ON MY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE, BUT THAT TREND HAS SNOWBALLED INTO A AVALANCHE OF CUSTOMER FEEDBACK FORMS. MORE ALARMINGLY SUCH SURVEYS ARE NOW EVERYWHERE: AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR CHECKOUT RECEIPT, WHICH THE CLERK DUTIFULLY URGES YOU TO FILL OUT; FILLING YOUR MAILBOX AS WELL AS YOUR INBOX; PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED AT YOUR RESTAURANT TABLE. I UNDERSTAND THAT MY OPINION REALLY, REALLY MATTERS TO PEOPLE WHO WANT MY MONEY. BUT WHEN DID WE GET SO INSECURE THAT WE NEED TO KNOW FROM MINUTE TO MINUTE WHAT OTHERS THINK? THE LATE NEW YORK MAYOR ED KOCH'S CONSTANT QUERY, "HOW'M I DOING?" SEEMS TO HAVE BECOME THE MANTRA FOR AMERICAN COMMERCE. I HAVE NO PROOF, BUT I THINK THERE COULD BE SOME MIND GAME HERE. WHAT IF THE PROCESS OF FILLING OUT A FORM HELPS TO MORE FIRMLY IMPLANT A FAVORABLE IMPRESSION OF THE MERCHANT. AFTER ALL, MOST OF US TRY NOT TO BE CRITICAL AND TEND TO INFLATE GRADES LIKE A MODERN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR. MAYBE THOSE HASTY GRADES ARE WHAT LASTS - LONG AFTER THE BUYING EXPERIENCE HAS GONE HAZY.  WE COULD ALSO SEE SURVEY FATIGUE SET IN. I'M GETTING CLOSE. I'M GUESSING THAT THIS TRANSACTIONAL SPAM WILL SOON GENERATE VIGORUS CONSUMER PUSHBACK.  IN FACT, MY PLAN IS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT CUSTOMER SURVEY FORMS ON MY CUSTOMER SURVEY FORMS.

2ND HALF

JOHN’S OPEN:
HELLO AND WELCOME TO U-S FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. AMERICANS HAVE MADE A NATIONAL PASTIME OF GRIPING ABOUT OUR GOVERNMENT. NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE ON THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM, FEW OF US HAVE MUCH GOOD TO SAY ABOUT ELECTED OFFICIALS OR BUREAUCRATS. IT DOESN'T TAKE MANY MILES OF TRAVEL TO HELP MODERATE THIS NEGATIVITY, I HAVE DISCOVERED. ONE RESULT OF MY TRIP TO SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA WAS A NEW APPRECIATION FOR HOW BAD OUR GOVERNMENT ISN'T. CAMPAIGN FUNDING IS PRETTY SLEAZY, BUT COMPARED TO OUTRIGHT BRIBERY IT SEEMS TAME. REGULATIONS IRRITATE US, BUT DON'T STOP BUSINESS IN ITS TRACKS. AND WE OVERWHELMINGLY FEEL THE POLICE ARE ON THE SIDE OF THE LAW. THESE BLESSINGS ARE LESS COMMON THAN YOU MIGHT THINK.
HEADLINES:

THANK YOU JOHN AND HELLO EVERYONE. SOME IN THE MEAT INDUSTRY SAY USDA TOOK A BAD LAW AND MADE IT WORSE WITH ITS PROPOSED REVISIONS TO THE COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELING LAW. USDA MADE CHANGES TO THE EXISTING U-S LAW AFTER THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION SAID IT VIOLATED TRADE RULES. CANADA - WHICH BROUGHT THE ORIGINAL W-T-O COMPLAINT AGAINST THE U-S - SAYS IT'S "EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED" WITH THE U-S PROPOSAL. CANADIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTER GERRY RITZ SAYS HE DOES NOT BELIEVE "THAT THE PROPOSED CHANGES WILL BRING THE UNITED STATES INTO COMPLIANCE WITH ITS WTO OBLIGATIONS. THE AMERICAN MEAT INSTITUTE ALSO CRITICIZED USDA'S RULE. A-M-I PRESIDENT J-PATRICK BOYLE SAYS QUOTING HERE "ONLY THE GOVERNMENT COULD TAKE A COSTLY, CUMBERSOME RULE LIKE MANDATORY COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN LABELING AND MAKE IT WORSE EVEN" AS IT CLAIMS TO 'FIX IT. BOYLE SAYS COMPLYING WITH THE NEW REGULATIONS WOULD BRING COSTS THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY BE PASSED ON TO CONSUMERS."AND WILL FURTHER "INCREASE THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST EXPORTS OF CATTLE AND HOGS FROM CANADA. USDA'S NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS SERVICE IS SUSPENDING A NUMBER OF STATISTICAL SURVEYS AND REPORTS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE FISCAL YEAR. "NASS" SAYS IT'S DUE TO REDUCED FUNDING CAUSED BY SEQUESTRATION. THE AGENCY SAYS IT SELECTED THE TEN REPORTS BASED, IN PART, ON HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT IN THE MARKETING YEAR FOR THE SPECIFIC COMMODITY. AMONG THE LIST - MILK PRODUCTION REPORTS, THE JULY CATTLE REPORT, AS WELL AS CATFISH, POTATO AND RICE STOCKS. IT'S BEEN A TOUGH WINTER FOR OWLS IN PARTS OF NORTH AMERICA, AND THE EVIDENCE IS TURNING UP ON ROADSIDES, AT BIRD FEEDERS AND AT A WILDLIFE REHAB CENTER IN MINNESOTA.

AFRICA:

I STARTED MY RECENT TRIP TO AFRICA IN JOHANNESBURG - THE TOWN THAT GOLD BUILT. IT WAS THE FIRST STEP IN A JOURNEY IN TRULY FOREIGN LANDS. I AM SHARING A LITTLE OF WHAT I DISCOVERED THERE, BUT LET ME PREFACE THE STORY WITH THIS CONCLUSION: THE ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL TURMOIL ACROSS SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA HAS OVERSHADOWED THE EMERGENCE OF STRONG AND CAPABLE CITIZENS WHO ARE MAKING HISTORY WITH THEIR PROGRESS AGAINST INCREDIBLE ODDS.

BAXTER BLACK:

BAXTER BLACK SAYS SOME "CRITTERS" JUST AREN'T MEANT TO SWIM. WE'RE OFF TO HIS ARIZONA RANCH TO EXPLAIN WHY.

TRACTOR TALES:

EVERY TRACTOR HAS A STORY TO TELL. WHERE DOES THIS WEEK'S STORY BEGIN AL?
JOHN, THIS WEEK'S TRACTOR BEGAN IT'S JOURNEY IN EAST CENTRAL WISCONSIN.

CHURCH SALUTE:

TODAY'S COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE GOES TO WOLCOTTVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH IN WOLCOTTVILLE, INDIANA. THE MEMBERSHIP IS CELEBRATING 175 YEARS OF MINISTRY. THE CHURCH WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1837. ITS FIRST MEETING WAS HELD IN A LOG CABIN WITH ELEVEN PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE.  14 YEARS LATER, A WOOD-FRAMED STRUCTURE WAS CONSTRUCTED. THE CHURCH BELL WAS CAST IN 1833 AND REMAINS IN-USE TODAY. PASTOR KEITH PERRY LEADS THE CONGREGATION. OUR THANKS TO PHIL GALLUP FOR SHARING THE HISTORY OF WOLCOTTVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH.

MAILBAG:

TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG. REGULAR VIEWER STEVE WISNIEWSKI ASKS A DAIRY QUESTION: "IS IT TRUE THE MILK PRODUCERS ASSOC WANTS THE GOVERNMENT TO APPROVE AN ARTIFICIAL SWEETNER FOR MILK AND HAVE PERMISSION TO NOT LABEL THE INGREDIENT AS SUCH?" THE SHORT ANSWER IS ARTIFICAL SWEETENERS ARE APPROVED FOR MILK, BUT IT'S HOW THE PRODUCT IS LABELED THAT IS THE CONTROVERSY. LET ME GIVE YOU MY CONDENSED VERSION AND I'LL PROVIDE A LINK WHERE VIEWERS CAN WADE THROUGH THE PROPOSED REGULATION ON YOUR OWN. A LITTLE BACKSTORY. FIRST, MILK CONSUMPTION IS DECLINING AND HAD BEEN FOR DECADES. CHILDREN ARE NO EXCEPTION TO THIS TREND. THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN DRINKING MILK DAILY HAS BEEN DECLINING AS WELL. ONE INDUSTRY ANSWER WAS TO FLAVOR MILK WITH CHOCOLATE, STRAWBERRY AND VANILLA TO ATTRACT YOUNG CONSUMERS. THIS WORKED, BUT ADDED LOTS OF CALORIES TO THE DIETS DUE TO THE ADDED SUGAR. SO THE INDUSTRY SOUGHT TO USE NO-CALORIE SWEETNERS LIKE ASPARTAME TO REDUCE THE CALORIE COUNT. THE CURRENT REGULATIONS REQUIRE SUCH MILK PRODUCTS TO BE LABELED ON THE FRONT AS "REDUCED SUGAR" OR SOME SIMILAR INFORMATION. MILK PRODUCERS THINK THIS IS A KISS OF MARKET DEATH FOR KIDS, AND ARE ASKING FOR RULES SIMILAR TO FRUIT JUICES WHERE THE INGREDIENTS WOULD STILL BE LISTED ON THE BACK, BUT NOT SPOTLIGHTED ON THE FRONT. THE FDA IS STILL CONSIDERING THIS RULE, AND IF YOU GO TO THE LINK ON OUR HOME PAGE, YOU CAN FIRE OFF YOUR OWN COMMENT.

 


 

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