USFR Weekly Recap - December 1-2, 2012

December 1, 2012 08:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2051

DECEMBER 1-2, 2012  



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. I'll have more to say about trade agreements later, but news this week that a free trade agreement with the EU is receiving renewed interest is noteworthy. Unlike other trade agreements the issues will not be so much tariffs, but regulations - from safety rules to drug approvals to Phytosanitary standards. This last category could finally bring agreement on AG issues like hormones and GMO's by being part of a bigger package. It will be worth the wait and effort.


After the summer drought decimated crops and forced livestock feed costs higher, the AG Department says net farm incomes saw a decline. According to the latest crop progress report, a little over a quarter of the country's winter wheat crop is poor to very poor. The story is worse in Texas as 40% of the state's crop is considered poor to very poor and 39% fair. According to the latest crop progress report, a little over a quarter of the country's winter wheat crop is poor to very poor. I spoke to a Texas farmer who says with little moisture, his wheat planted the first of September is struggling. Meanwhile, cotton acres could plummet next year. Many farmers in the area see grain prices as a more attractive option. Department of AG data shows of the 3.3 million U.S. Farm operators, about a third are women. Those women are looking for ways to improve the bottom line of the farming operation.


Crop watch this week.


Our marketing roundtable hits the road this week. On Thursday, we took our cameras to the Executive Women in Agriculture conference held in Chicago. Tyne Morgan leads the conversation.


We often lose track of the consequences of events that command our attention for a few months and fade from the front page. Remember the great debate over NAFTA - the North American Free Trade Agreement, including the wild predictions like the NAFTA highway. Well, it's been almost 20 years and the result has been an amazing benefit to all three countries. The biggest change has been in Mexico, which is suddenly starting to contribute enormous impact on the North American economy. For example, it will soon surpass South Korea as the third largest car exporter. To be sure much of it has been the byproduct of oil trade, but Mexico’s economy is no longer the weak sister in NAFTA. America's farmers are watching more of their products cross the Rio Grande as well. Canada and Mexico are now our two largest markets for U.S. exports, and after China, our largest sources for imports. The fears that certain industries would disappear has largely been dispelled. The boost to the Mexican economy has also helped reduce illegal immigration. Trade agreements like NAFTA can take decades to negotiate and fully implement, but there are few government efforts that can pay off as well. In a world where instantaneous results are barely fast enough, we often lose sight of the rewards of patience.



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. I am as tired of black Friday as many of you, but it did dawn on me this was another example of what I call score boarding - the real-time measurement of economic or social activity. We knew almost before the day was out how many much people spent or shopped online and countless other comparisons. Add this to a car mileage phone app, combine yield monitors, on-line banking, and overnight TV ratings and we are checking how we are doing. Measuring can be the first step to changing, but once you start watching the scoreboard, the change is constant.


Corn growers are sounding the alarm...something must be done quickly to improve water levels along the drought-plagued Mississippi River. Specifically, they have concerns about the ability to get adequate fertilizer supplies to the Midwest. The Illinois Corn Growers Association told AgDay that fertilizer prices could climb as much as 50-dollars a ton. The pork industry is defending itself after "consumer reports" magazine criticized the safety of pork chops and ground pork. USDA researchers have figured out the science behind the genetic make-up of bread wheat. While we are busy decking the halls at our home, our nation’s capital is doing some Christmas decorating of its own. Be sure to tune in to our holiday special, Christmas in the Country. We'll be taking a closer look at the story behind this story, with a trip to the forest where the tree was harvested and we'll introduce you to the characters who cut it down. It’s an episode you won’t want to miss on the weekend before Christmas. Christmas in the country here on U.S. Farm Report.


That’s it for news...Meteorologist Mike Hoffman joins us now with the national forecast.


Regular viewers of our show know that we like to pay tribute to churches, as they serve as the foundation for much of rural America Typically we share a photo, but on occasion we like to take a camera to the church and bring the story to life. Tyne Morgan takes us to New Salem Church of the Brethren in Milford, Indiana.


Based on a lifetime of experience, Baxter Black understands all too well the habits of ranchers.  This weekend, he tells us how many start their days when the winter darkness sets in.


Tractor tales this week takes us to big sky country.


Today's country church salute goes to the First Presbyterian Church of Elk Rapids, Michigan. The church was built in 1874.  They are celebrating 138 years of ministry this year. Church member Don Reynolds sent us the photo and a note. He says the church is involved in many community programs, but they are especially fond of the "community cupboard" which helps feed a large number of low-income residents.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag. Viewers responded to my comments about the demand for fresh water in the future.


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





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