USFR Weekly Recap - August 20-21, 2011

August 22, 2011 08:28 AM
 

THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT
EPISODE #1984
AUGUST 20-21, 2011

JOHN’S OPEN: HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. I HAVE TALKED TO OUR PRODUCERS ABOUT THE DANGER OF GOING OVERBOARD ON REPORTING FARMLAND PRICE INCREASES, BUT THIS PHENOMENON SIMPLY REFUSES TO GO AWAY. OUR LATEST SURVEY NEWS IS IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE. PERHAPS IT IS THE STARK BACKDROP OF TRILLIONS EVAPORATING IN EQUITY MARKETS AROUND THE GLOBE, BUT REGARDLESS OF HOW FROTHY YOU THINK THE LAND MARKET IS, THIS IS REAL MONEY BEING INVESTED BY SERIOUS PEOPLE. MOST ENCOURAGING TO ME IS HOW FARMERS ARE PUTTING THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR HEARTS ARE IN THE FACE OF STERN ACADEMIC DISAPPROVAL. THE SAME AG ECONOMISTS WHO ARE AGHAST TODAYS' PRICES WARNED US ABOUT $3000 LAND TEN YEARS AGO. TIME NOW FOR THOSE HEADLINES.....HERE'S AL PELL.

MIDWEST LAND VALUES: THANK YOU JOHN. THERE'S NO LET-UP IN THE DESIRE FOR FARMLAND. WE HAVE TWO REGIONS THAT SHOW THE VALUE IS REACHING NEW LEVELS. WE'LL BEGIN IN THE HEART OF THE MIDWEST.  THE FEDERAL RESERVE BANK IN CHICAGO IS NOW REPORTING THE HIGHEST YEAR-OVER-YEAR INCREASE OF FARMLAND VALUES SINCE THE 1970'S. THEY SURGED 17% FROM THE SAME PERIOD LAST YEAR. THE DISTRICT IS MADE-UP OF ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, MICHIGAN AND WISCONSIN. THE VALUE OF "GOOD" FARM LAND IN THE SECOND QUARTER WAS 4% HIGHER THAN IN THE FIRST QUARTER. THIS REPORT IS BASED ON A SURVEY OF MORE THAN 200 AG BANKERS IN THE DISTRICT.

KC FED: MEANWHILE IN THE CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PLAINS, FARMLAND VALUES ALSO SURGED. THE FEDERAL RESERVE IN KANSAS CITY SAYS OVERALL FARMLAND VALUES ARE UP 20%. FOR THE QUARTER, IRRIGATED CROP LAND WAS UP JUST ABOUT 4%. IN NEBRASKA ALONE, CROPLAND VALUES WERE UP 30%.

LOWER FARM INCOMES: IT'S NOT ALL POSITIVE NEWS FROM THAT DISTRICT, AS FARM INCOMES DROPPED. THE KANSAS CITY OFFICE SAYS SEVERE DROUGHT IN THE SOUTHERN PLAINS LOWERED WHEAT YIELDS, PROMPTED RANCHERS TO LIQUIDATE COW HERDS AND INCREASED CATTLE FEEDING COSTS.

TEXAS DROUGHT: THE HISTORIC TEXAS DROUGHT HAS LED TO A RECORD 5.2 BILLION DOLLARS IN AGRICULTURAL LOSSES, MAKING IT THE MOST COSTLY DROUGHT ON RECORD. THE TEXAS AGRI-LIFE EXTENSION SAYS FURTHER LOSSES ARE POSSIBLE IF RAINFALL DOES NOT COME SOON TO ESTABLISH THE WINTER WHEAT CROP AND WHEAT GRAZING.

CROP TOUR: TEAMS OF CROP-SCOUTS ARE GATHERING THIS WEEKEND IN ADVANCE OF THE 2011 PRO FARMER MIDWEST CROP TOUR. WITH USDA RECENTLY LOWERING ITS FORECAST OF THIS YEARS CORN CROP, THE INDUSTRY WILL BE WATCHING THIS TOUR CLOSELY. AS THEY'VE DONE FOR THE PAST 18 YEARS, OUR PARTNERS AT PRO FARMER NEWSLETTER WILL LEAD TEAMS OF FIELD-SCOUTS THROUGH SEVEN KEY MIDWESTERN STATES TO GAUGE THIS YEARS CORN AND SOYBEAN CROPS. THE TOUR WRAPS UP THURSDAY IN MINNESOTA, WHEN PRO FARMER WILL RELEASE ITS FORECAST FOR THIS YEAR. WE'LL HAVE THOSE RESULTS NEXT WEEKEND ON U.S. FARM REPORT.

CROP WATCH: CROP WATCH BEGINS IN IRWIN COUNTY, GEORGIA. HE FINISHED CORN HARVEST THIS WEEK AND THE WORST DRY LAND CROP IN HIS 40 YEARS OF CROPPING. HIS YIELD MONITOR SHOWED 0 THROUGH 14-BUSHELS AN ACRE. IRRIGATED CORN GOT 150-BUSHELS AN ACRE. FROM MASSACHUSETTS IT TOOK 7 WEEKS TO PLANT THE CORN CROP IN MAY. IT WAS A WET SPRING AND A DRY JULY. STILL, HE SAYS 70% OF HIS CROP ARE GOOD AND EXPECTS YIELDS FROM 160 TO 190-BUSHELS AN ACRE. WHEN WE COME BACK, RICHARD AND MIKE ARE HERE FOR THE WEEKLY MARKET WRAP.

LUNCH AND LEARN: ONE OF THE BIGGEST FARM SHOWS IN THE MIDWEST KICKS OFF IN ABOUT TEN DAYS AND WE'RE INVITING YOU FOR LUNCH. THE FARM PROGRESS SHOW WILL BE HELD IN DECATUR, ILLINOIS THIS YEAR. ONCE AGAIN, WE'LL HOST A LUNCH-AND LEARN SESSION WITH SOME OF OUR TOP MARKET ANALYSTS. BUT SPACE IS LIMITED FOR THE AUGUST 30TH EVENT. RESERVATIONS ARE ON A FIRST-COME, FIRST SERVE BASIS. EMAIL YOUR REQUEST TO MAILBAG@USFARMREPORT.COM. YOU CAN ALSO CALL US AND LEAVE A VOICEMAIL. THAT NUMBER IS 800-792-4329. WE'LL NEED YOUR NAME AND NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN YOUR PARTY. FOLKS FROM OUR OFFICE WILL CONTACT YOU TO CONFIRM.

ROUNDTABLE: ROUND TABLE GUEST THIS WEEK, RICHARD BROCK AND MIKE NORTH. MIKE, LAST TIME YOU WERE HERE, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT A REPORT THE GOVERNMENT HAD, THE JUNE REPORT. I'LL ASK YOU ABOUT THE AUGUST REPORT. DO YOU FEEL ANY BETTER ABOUT THAT ONE? I FEEL THE SAME ABOUT IT. WE'RE SITTING WITH A HEALTHY AMOUNT OF STOCK. CERTAINLY NOT A FROTHY AMOUNT. WE DON'T HAVE A BIG PILE OUT THERE BUT PLENTY ENOUGH TO TAKE US THROUGH THIS SITUATION AND WE HAD $1.40 CORRECTION AFTER THAT REPORT AND I THINK AS WE ENTER INTO THE THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST, THE SIMILAR REACTION GIVEN ECONOMICS. DO YOU THINK THE REPORTS HAVE BEEN, WE'RE NOT GOING TO SPEND ALL DAY ON THIS. I DON'T CARE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. THEY ARE WHAT THEY ARE. YOU CAN BELIEVE THEM OR NOT BELIEVE THEM. YOU KNOW, IT IS WHAT IT IS. I ACTUALLY THINK THEIR YIELD AND CORN IS IN THE $153 TO $154 RANGE. THE LAST YEAR’S TELLS US THE AUGUST REPORT HAS NEVER BEEN ACCURATE. A LOT DEPENDS ON THE WEATHER AND IF YOU WANT TO BE A DAB DOOR ECONOMIST AND YOU LOOK OUT THE DOOR AND THINK IT'S TOO HIGH. IF YOU LIVE IN WESTERN IOWA YOU THINK IT'S TOO LOW. LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CROP CONDITIONS THEN AT THIS POINT IN TIME. IS THERE ANYTHING WE NEED TO WATCH OUT FOR? THE BIGGEST CONCERN IS AN EARLY FROST WITH THE LATE PLANTING. WE WORRY ABOUT THAT EVERY YEAR. IT'S MORE OF A CONCERN THIS YEAR. YOU KNOW, WE DON'T KNOW IF WE'LL GET ONE OR NOT. YOU CAN FIND SOME FORECASTERS THAT WILL SAY YOU'RE GOING TO GET ONE AND SOME WON'T. THE REALTY IS WE DO HAVE A TIGHT SUPPLY OF CORN. THE IMPORTANT THING TO UNDERSTAND IN THIS MARKET IS THIS IS A SUPPLY DRIVEN MARKET AND NOT DEMAND. I'M NOT SAYING THIS WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. IT ALWAYS HAS HAPPENED AND GETS THE TOP OF THE MARKET FOR THE YEAR BEFORE, DURING OR RIGHT AFTER HARVEST. THIS THING WILL BE OVER BEFORE THANKSGIVING AND POSSIBLY BE OVER WITHIN THE NEXT THREE TO FOUR WEEKS. ARE YOU JUST NODDING YOUR HEAD BECAUSE YOU'RE HEARING HIM OR APPROVE OF WHAT HE'S SAYING? I AGREE 100%. WE'VE BEEN TELLING OUR PRODUCERS THE SAME THINGS. ACT NOW AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOOD PRICES. THESE RALLIES, THE SUPPLY SIDE RALLY IS OFTEN SHORT LIVED AND DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH TO CARRY IT. ONCE YOU START GETTING PRESSURE FROM HARVEST, IT FALLS APART. SO HOW ABOUT THE DEMAND? THAT MEANS THE DEMAND HAS TO BE THERE AND DEMAND HAS BEEN DROPPING A LITTLE BIT, HASN'T IT? HERE'S AN INTERESTING SCENARIO. WE HAVE A VERY ROBUST ETHANOL DEMAND. HOWEVER, WE HAVE A MAJOR AUDIENCE -- THEY'LL BE A POINT WHERE ETHANOL PLANTS WILL HAVE TO BE SHUTTERING, SCALING BACK, DOING SOMETHING TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE LOSSES THAT THEY'LL BE EXPERIENCING? WE'VE SEEN SOME SWITCH TO WHEAT. ONE ETHANOL PLANT AND WHEAT AND LIVESTOCK CASHINGS. THE LOSS OF ECONOMICS HAS NOT BEEN REPEALED. THERE'S A LOT OF RESISTANCE AND ON THE EXPORT DEMAND, TOO. THE KEY POINT HERE FUNDAMENTALLY IS WE'RE ALREADY SEEING SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN CORN SEED SALES FOR NEXT SPRING. AND SO THIS MARKET IS TELLING ME THAT FARMERS WILL PLANT A LOT OF CORN ACRES. WE THINK AT A MINIMUM WE'RE AT 93.5 MILLION ACRES NEXT YEAR WITH A NORMAL YIELD THAT WILL GIVE YOU A CARRY OVER IN THE 1.3 TO 1.4 BUSHEL. YOU HAVE ONE OF THE MAKINGS OF HISTORY IN CORN. A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY I SOLD EARLY LAST YEAR AND THE YEAR BEFORE. I LEARNED MY LESSON AND NEVER DOING THAT AGAIN. WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF HAVING THREE POOR CROPS BACK TO BACK? AS AN ODDS MAKER, THAT'S NOT LIKELY. WHENEVER YOU GIVE ME THAT INFORMATION, I'M LOOKING OUT IN 2012 AND SAY SOME OF THE PRICES AREN'T TOO BAD. MAYBE I SHOULD BE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE PRICES NOW AND LOCK THEM UP. IS THAT A POSSIBILITY? YEAH. GUYS ARE STARTING TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH LANDOWNERS ABOUT RENTS. THEY'RE LOCKING UP INPUTS, FERTILIZERS. RICHARD MENTIONED SEED. THAT DISCUSSION IS ALREADY TAKING PLACE. THEY HAVE TO LOCK IN PROFITS NOW AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH DOING THAT. OBVIOUSLY YOU DON'T WANT TO GET TOO FAR OUT ON THAT. YOU DON'T WANT TO GO 100% OF YOUR CROP. AT THE SAME TIME, THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH LOCKING IN A PROFIT. PROFIT BREAKS NO MAN. IT'S MADE A FEW UPSET WHEN IT GOT BIGGER. THAT HAPPENS SOMETIMES. A LOT OF GUYS DID THAT AND SOLD EARLY AND THE PRICES KEPT GOING UP. SOME OF THE GUYS WILL HANG ON FOREVER AND WAIT UNTIL IT GOES DOWN, RIGHT? THAT'S WHY THEY NEED TO BE WORKING WITH SOMEBODY TO MANAGE THE RISKS. A SALE HERE IS CERTAINLY OKAY. NO BASEBALL TEAM DOES WELL WORRYING ABOUT LAST NIGHT'S LOSS. YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE GAME IN FRONT OF YOU AND THE ONES COMING. IT'S A DIFFICULT THING FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE TO DO IS TAKE A LOOK AT LAST YEAR AND FORGET IT AND MOVE ON AND MAKE THE DECISIONS BASED UPON WHAT YOU'RE DOING THIS YEAR. WE'LL SEE PRODUCERS RUNNING INTO HIGH RISK, PAYING THE HIGH RENTS AND LOCKING IN JUST LIKE HAPPENED IN '08. I THINK WE'RE ON THE VERGE OF DOING IT AGAIN. YOU'RE SETTING YOURSELVES UP TO BE ABLE TO BE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF IS WHAT I HEAR BOTH OF YOU SAYING. WHEN WE COME BACK, WE'LL TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THIS. RICHARD BROCK AND MIKE NORTH. WHEN WE LEFT, WE WERE TALKING ABOUT A SITUATION WHERE A PRODUCER COULD FIND HIMSELF BEING SET UP FOR A BAER SITUATION THAT COULD START NEXT YEAR. HOW DO YOU GET OUT OF IT? HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM GETTING THERE, RICHARD? I THINK THE BEST DECISION IS TO BE A PRICE COMPARISON. A PRODUCER WON'T BE ABLE TO SELL NEXT YEAR'S CORN FOR THIS YEAR'S CORN. YOU ALREADY HAVE AN INVERTED MARKET. YOU HAVE TO BITE THE BULLET AND SAY LIKE RIGHT NOW DECEMBER CORN FUTURE AT 2012 TRADING BETWEEN 6.25 AND 6.50, YOU'RE PROBABLY LOCKING IN A CASH PRICE DEPENDING ON WHERE YOU ARE MAYBE IN THE HIGH 5'S. RIGHT NOW. PROBABLY NOT MANY PRODUCERS GETTING THAT 0 BASIS. SO IF YOU'RE LOOKING AT 30 OR 40 UNDER, YOU'RE LOOKING AT $6. I THINK FOR NEXT YEAR'S CORN, THAT'S PROBABLY GOING TO BE A GOOD PRICE. YOU WORK IN SMALL INCREMENTS. WE LIKE TO SELL 10% AND MAXIMUM 20% INCREMENTS. PARTICULARLY IN MARKETS LIKE THIS WITH STRENGTH. LET THE MARKET OWN SOME AND GET TO A POINT YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.
YOU REALLY GOT TO KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO GET YOUR PRICES LOCKED IN AND DO A LITTLE PLANNING. I WAS WAITING FOR ONE OF YOU SAY YOU NEED TO PLAN FOR THIS. ABSOLUTELY. LIKE I SAID EARLIER, WE'RE IN A TIME FRAME WHERE GUYS CAN EASILY START LOCKING IN INPUTS AND LOOK AT WHAT THEIR TRUE COST OF PRODUCTION IS GOING TO BE. YOU KNOW, MAKE A SALE HERE. IT IS OKAY TO GET SOME SALES MADE. BECAUSE WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO FIND IS THERE'S PROFITABILITY AT THESE LEVELS WITH THE CURRENT COST OF PRODUCTION. SO WITH THAT, THOUGH, THERE NEEDS TO BE A PLAN AS TO HOW TO ADDRESS THE BALANCE. YOU DON'T WANT TO GO HOG WILD AND SELL YOUR CROP. YOU WANT TO HAVE A PLAN TO ADDRESS THE PORTION YOU'RE WILLING TO SELL NOW, WHETHER 10, 25% OR WHAT HAVE YOU AND THE PORTION YOU'RE NOT WILLING TO SELL NOW. THAT'S A GOOD PLACE TO FIT SOME OPTION STRATEGIES IN. THE BOTTOM LINE IS IT NEEDS TO BE A PROFITABLE SENSE AND HAVE A PLAN TO MAKE THAT WORK. IS THAT RIGHT? I WANT TO MOVE ONTO SOMETHING ELSE RIGHT NOW. WHAT IS AFFECTING US IS THE PRICE OF LAND. I'M BEING TOLD NOW IT'S NOT ALL INVESTMENT MONEY DRIVING THAT PRICE. FARMERS ARE OUT THERE PAYING CASH AND OR PAYING FOR THIS. ACTUALLY, MOST OF IT IS BEING BOUGHT BY FARMERS RIGHT T NOW BECAUSE FARMERS HAVE HAD A COUPLE PROFITABLE YEARS AND HAVE THE CASH AVAILABLE AND THEY'RE DRIVING IT UP. THE OTHER THING THAT'S DIFFERENT NOW THAN 15 YEARS AGO YOU HAVE FARMERS THAT BUILD UP BIG LAND BASIS. WHEN A HUNDRED OR 80 COMES UP NEXT TO THEM AND ADD 1500 TO ADD THAT IN AT AN EXTREMELY HIGH PRICE IS NO BIG DEAL. IN THE 80s THAT WAS NOT THE CASE. MOST FARMERS DID NOT HAVE NEAR AS BIG OF LAND BASE AT THE TIME. AS THE LAND BASES ARE INCREASED THAT ADDS TO THE MAGNITUDE OF THE PRICE INCREASES AND THAT'S PRIMARILY WHAT WE'RE SEEING RIGHT NOW. THE SAME THING IS TRUE IN CASH RENT. IF YOU HAVE A BIG BASE AND PAY $6 OR $700 AN ACRE IN CASH RENT, WHICH WE'LL SEE IN ILLINOIS COMING WINTER, IF YOU'RE BLENDING IT IN ON OTHER LAND, I MEAN IT'S KIND OF LIKE A NONEVENT. KIND OF AN AVERAGING OUT PROCESS. I WANT TO MOVE ONTO SOMETHING ELSE TO YOU, MIKE. THE WORLD SITUATION AND THE AFFECT OF OUR DOLLAR. WHEN THE DOLLAR GOES DOWN AND MAKES US ABLE TO SELL. ISN'T THERE CONCERN ABOUT OUR ECONOMY BASED ON IT? WE ONLY HAVE ABOUT A MINUTE OR SO TO TALK ABOUT IT. YEAH. ABSOLUTELY. OUR ECONOMY WILL PLAY INTO THIS AND BE ONE OF THE BIGGEST FACTORS TO HELP US GO LOWER IN THE GRAIN MARKETS. THE DEMAND SIDE GETS LITTLE DISCUSSION AND AS THE ECONOMIC FALLOUT OCCURS, YOU'RE GOING TO SEE THAT IMPACT DEMAND SIDE OF THE BALANCE SHEET. WE HAVE A HOG INDUSTRY ON THE VERGE OF LIQUIDATION AND POULTRY GUYS CUTTING BACK AND NOT IN THE BEST OF SITUATIONS. THIS IS A TIME TO SEE RETRACTION ON THE DEMAND SIDE. ABOUT 15 SECONDS, GROW WITH MIKE. THIS IS NOT A TIME WE'LL SEE INCREASE IN DEMAND WORLDWIDE OR DOMESTICALLY. I THINK OUR ECONOMY WOULD FOLLOW EUROPES AND PULL THE DEMAND OF ALL PRODUCTS. WE'LL DOUBLE DIP SESSIONS. BOTH YOU AGREE ON THAT. BAD NEWS. WE HAVE TO STOP SOMETIME. WE'LL BE BACK IN A MOMENT.

JOHN’S WORLD: THE SPEED OF OUR LIVES BECOMES MORE IMPRESSIVE AS THE YEARS PILE UP. IF YOU'VE NEVER WAITED TO SEE WHAT HOW YOUR PICTURES TURNED OUT, I SUPPOSE DIGITAL SHOTS ARE NO BIG DEAL. AND IF YOU'VE NEVER SPENT WEEKS PLOWING AT 4 MILES PER HOUR, USING A VERTICAL TILLAGE MACHINE AT NINE IS PRETTY HO-HUM. HUMAN INGENUITY IS FINDING QUICK ANSWERS TO MANY OF OUR LIFE PROBLEMS, BUT IN THE PROCESS I THINK WE ARE LOSING THE FACULTY TO WRESTLE WITH ISSUES THAT SIMPLY CANNOT BE SOLVED OVERNIGHT. SLOW AND STEADY IS NOT A POPULAR STRATEGY. TO BE SURE, WE HAVE HAD SOME STUNNING SUCCESSES WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT HAVE LEAPFROGGED TIME REQUIREMENTS FOR PROGRESS. CELL PHONES, FOR EXAMPLE TOOK DECADES OFF INFRASTRUCTURE BUILDING FOR DEVELOPING NATIONS BY BYPASSING LANDLINES ALTOGETHER. BUT WE ARE INCREASING CONFRONTING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS AT EVERY LEVEL THAT CANNOT BE SOLVED BY ANYTHING BUT TIME AND PERSISTENCE. THIS MEANS A LEVEL OF COMMITMENT THAT IS BECOMING RARE. WHAT WE HAVE FORGOTTEN IS THOSE COMMITMENTS BECOME SIMPLY HOW WE LIVE. FARMERS KNOW THIS BY CONFRONTING PERMANENT CHALLENGES LIKE EROSION OR FERTILITY. MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT IS THESE SEEMING SACRIFICES FOR A DISTANT GOAL THAT BRINGS MUCH OF THE SATISFACTION AND MEANING TO OUR LIVES. AS WE FACE STUBBORN DILEMMAS AS A COMMUNITY OR GLOBE, IT IS OUR DETERMINATION TO RELENTLESS PROGRESS THAT WILL NOT JUST PROVIDE THE SOLUTIONS, BUT ENRICH THE MOMENTS WE HAVE.

2ND HALF:
JOHN’S OPEN:
HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. THE U.S. GOVERNMENT HAS A PROBLEM DEFINING WHAT RURAL MEANS. AT LEAST NINE SEPARATE DEFINITIONS OF RURAL ARE USED FOR VARIOUS PROGRAMS AND DATA ANALYSIS. THIS IS MORE THAN AN ACCOUNTING CURIOSITY. IF MONEY IS DEDICATED TO RURAL PROGRAMS IT PAYS TO FIT UNDER THE RURAL UMBRELLA. HENCE YOU CAN SEE CITIES OF NEARLY 50,000 GETTING GRANTS FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT, WHICH SEEMS PRETTY ODD TO ME. RURAL POPULATION IS OFTEN TABULATED AT AROUND 50 MILLION, WHICH LEADS TO THE INTERESTING FACT THAT THOSE INVOLVED IN FARMING COMPRISE AS FEW AS 6% OF RURAL RESIDENTS. ONE THING, HOWEVER IS CLEAR: RURAL AMERICA IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH AGRICULTURE. LET'S GET STARTED WITH THE HEADLINES AND AL PELL...

OBAMA TOUR: THANK YOU JOHN. PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK HIS MESSAGE OF ECONOMIC SECURITY IN RURAL AMERICA TO THE MIDWEST THIS WEEK. THE TOUR TOOK HIM THROUGH MINNESOTA, IOWA AND ILLINOIS. ONE OF HIS LAST STOPS WAS IN ATKINSON, ILLINOIS AT THE HEADQUARTERS OF WYFFELS HYBRIDS. HE NOTED THAT THE AGRICULTURAL ECONOMY IS ONE OF THE BRIGHT SPOTS IN THE NATION. HE TALKED ABOUT JOBS, THE COUNTRY'S DEFICIT, AND REGULATIONS PUT ON FARMERS.

INTERNET ON FARM: THE PRESIDENT SAYS RURAL ACCESS TO BROADBAND INTERNET IS AN IMPORTANT ECONOMIC TOOL. BUT FOR MANY, THAT TOOL IS NOT YET AVAILABLE. USDA JUST RELEASED ITS ANNUAL REPORT ON COMPUTER USE IN RURAL AMERICA. IT SHOWS A TOTAL OF 62% OF U.S. FARMS NOW HAVE INTERNET ACCESS, COMPARED WITH 59% IN 2009. DSL IS THE MOST COMMON METHOD OF ACCESSING THE INTERNET, WITH 38% OF U.S. FARMS USING IT. SATELLITE SERVICE MAKES-UP 15% WHILE DIALUP ACCESS DROPPED TO 12%.

MEAT EXPORTS: EXPORTS OF U.S. PRODUCED MEAT ARE ON A RECORD PACE. FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS, THE U.S. MEAT EXPORT FEDERATION REPORTS BEEF EXPORTS HAVE TOTALLED 620,000 METRIC TONS, UP 25% FROM A YEAR AGO. THE FEDERATION SAYS THE U.S. HAS RECAPTURED ITS POSITION AS THE WORLD'S LEADING BEEF EXPORTER, OUT-PACING AUSTRALIA AND BRAZIL. FOR PORK PRODUCERS, EXPORTS ARE ON A RECORD CLIP. FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS, JUST OVER ONE MILLION METRIC TONS OF PORK HAVE GONE OUT OF OUR PORTS, UP 14% COMPARED TO THE FIRST HALF OF 2010. MORE THAN A QUARTER OF ALL U.S. PORK IS EXPORTED, MUCH OF IT TO KOREA WHOSE PORK INDUSTRY WAS DEVASTATED BY FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE.

CATFISH: AUGUST IS NATIONAL CATFISH MONTH. UNFORTUNATELY, IT'S GETTING A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT TO CELEBRATE EACH YEAR. MANY U.S. CATFISH PRODUCERS ARE FACING HIGHER FEED COSTS AND STIFF COMPETITION FROM CHEAPER, IMPORTED FISH. IN ARKANSAS, CATFISH PROCESSING IS DOWN 37% FROM A YEAR AGO WHILE IMPORTS ARE UP 64%.

HEARTLAND ANGUS RUNNER: WORK LIFE AND LIFE-STYLE DON'T ALWAYS GO HAND IN HAND. BUT FOR CATTLEWOMAN BARB DOWNEY OF THE DOWNEY RANCH IN WAMEGO KANSAS YOU CAN'T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER. SHE'S ALWAYS BEEN COMFORTABLE IN THE SADDLE, BUT IN THIS STORY FROM THE AMERICAN ANGUS ASSOCIATION, SHE TELLS US HOW JUST RECENTLY SHE BEEN TRADING HER BOOTS FOR A PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES. OUR THANKS TO THE AMERICAN ANGUS ASSOCIATION FOR SHARING THAT STORY.

IRAQ DAIRY: AMERICAN AGRICULTURE IS PLAYING A KEY ROLE IN HELPING PEOPLE IN WAR-TORN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. BOTH OF THOSE COUNTRIES RELY HEAVILY ON FARMING AS A WAY OF LIFE. THE U.S. MILITARY OFTEN USES NATIONAL GUARD OUTFITS FROM OUR COUNTRY TO HELP FARMERS IN THOSE COUNTRIES IMPROVE THEIR PRODUCTION SKILLS AND PUT MORE FOOD ON THE TABLE. BUT DON'T FORGET, CIVILIANS ARE ALSO STEPPING-UP TO HELP. KENT FADDIS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI HAS THE STORY OF A LIVESTOCK SPECIALIST WHO TOOK HER SKILLS OVERSEAS. THANKS KENT. UP NEXT, TRACTOR TALES AND OUR COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE. PLEASE STAY WITH US.

TRACTOR TALES: AL, WHAT'S ON TAP FOR TRACTOR TALES THIS WEEK?" JOHN, WE MET A YOUNG COLLECTOR FROM SOUTHERN MINNESOTA WITH A CLASSIC FROM HIS 4-H DAYS. NEXT WEEK WE HEAD TO SOUTHWESTERN MICHIGAN FOR A 1937 JOHN DEERE B. THE OWNER OF THIS TRACTOR SAYS HE DOESN'T WANT TO PAINT IT THE ORIGINAL JOHN DEERE GREEN BECAUSE HE LIKES IT JUST HOW IT LOOKS.

CHURCH SALUTE: TODAY'S COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE GOES TO CLIFTON, OHIO WHERE THE CLIFTON UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IS CELEBRATING 200 YEARS OF MINISTRY. THE CHURCH WAS ORGANIZED IN 1811. THE BI-CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE SAYS THE FIRST PASTOR WAS A REPENTANT SHAKER. THE SECOND PASTOR WAS AN ABOLITIONIST WHO STOOD FIRMLY AGAINST SLAVERY AT THE TIME. ACCORDING TO THE LETTER, THOSE BELIEFS WERE NOT ONLY UN-POPULAR, BUT DANGEROUS.  THE DEBATE SPLINTERED THE CHURCH BACK IN THE MID 1800'S. BUT IN THE 1970'S, THE TWO CONGREGATIONS CAME BACK TOGETHER. THIS WEEKEND, CLIFTON UPC WILL CELEBRATE THE BI-CENTENNIAL WITH HISTORICAL FOOD, CLOTHING AND PREACHING. OUR THANKS TO LESLIE ARENDT FOR SHARING THE WORD. 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....MY COMMENTS ABOUT GETTING STARTED IN FARMING HIT A NERVE WITH JOE OGONOWSKI IN NEWPORT, MICHIGAN. "I LIKED YOUR TALK ON STARTING OUT FARMING LAST SATURDAY. I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR THE LAST 4 SEASONS, AND THE CARDS ARE AGAINST ME. I'M UP TO PLANTING 145 ACRES NEXT YEAR AND IF IT WASN'T FOR MY JOB SUPPORTING MY FARMING I WOULD HAVE BEEN DONE 3 YEARS AGO."  JOE, THANKS FOR RESPONDING. I TAKE NO PLEASURE IN OUTLINING WHAT I BELIEVE ARE THE HARSH REALITIES FOR BEGINNING FARMERS, BUT I ALSO FEEL IT IS DISRESPECTFUL TO SUGAR-COAT THE FACTS AS I SEE THEM. ONE OF THE UNINTENTIONAL CONSEQUENCES OF OUR REVERENCE FOR FAMILY FARMS IS FAMILY PEDIGREES ARE NOW EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHEN I STARTED DECADES AGO. THE NETWORK OF INTERMARRIAGES, CONTACTS, AND PROFESSIONAL FAVORS BUILT UP OVER GENERATIONS IS RIGHTFULLY PROTECTED, BUT AT THE COST OF A SLOW CREEP TOWARD A PRAIRIE PATRIARCHY. REMEMBER TOO, THAT LABOR IS A DIMINISHING INPUT FOR MANY FARMS, SO THAT THE ONE ECONOMIC ASSET YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE IS LESS VALUED. TECHNOLOGY IS REDUCING THE RANKS BY REPLACING OPERATORS ALL OVER AGRICULTURE. STILL, MANY LARGER FARMS ARE DISCOVERING THE GENE POOL AND THE TALENT POOL ARE NOT THE SAME THING, SO DEMAND FOR SKILLED ENTRY LEVEL WORKERS MAY BE INCREASING, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE WILLING TO RELOCATE. THOSE FARM EMPLOYERS WHO RECOGNIZE THE PERSONAL GOALS OF ASPIRING FARMERS AND PROVIDE CAREER PATHS THAT YIELD MEANINGFUL OPPORTUNITIES WILL DISCOVER A TRUE WIN-WIN SOLUTION. I HAVE HEARD FROM LARGE FARMERS WHO HAVE COMPLAINED THAT FINDING GOOD EMPLOYEES IS THEIR LARGEST CHALLENGE. MAYBE THEY SHOULD BEGIN LOOKING FOR JUNIOR PARTNERS INSTEAD. AND THOSE WHO SEEK ENTRY NEED TO DEAL MORE REALISTICALLY WITH A FARM CAREER THAT IS SOMETHING OTHER THAN A COPY OF THEIR FATHER'S. AS ALWAYS, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, SEND COMMENTS TO MAILBAG@USFARMREPORT.COM OR LEAVE US A VOICE MAIL AT 800-792-4329.


 

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