USFR Weekly Recap - December 15-16, 2012

December 15, 2012 08:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2053

DECEMBER 15-16, 2012  



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Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. Well, fellow cliff-dwellers, don't look down. I’m starting to wonder if the austerity crisis has been a little oversold. Wall Street seems curiously calm, and I think those guys don't wait until the last minute to prepare defenses. Farmers are realizing we have much at stake in the negotiations. But that should also trigger a realization we are among the fabled "takers". You can't lose entitlements you don't get. In about a week, I expect more detailed information about what the world looks like over the cliff. But I suspect it will be less dramatic but every bit as painful as we have heard.


Farmland prices hit a new high in the nation's top corn producing state - Iowa. They are up 24% from a year ago. Those are the results of data collected by Iowa State Extension economist Mike Duffy. The AG department released its December supply-demand figures. And there were no significant changes. Our partners at Profarmer poured thru the data. Managing Editor Brian Grete notes the changes in the USDA forecast. There was little improvement in the drought monitor this week. The plains - from north to south remain - are getting little reprieve, impacting livestock and crops. In the next half hour, I’ll look at efforts to keep barge traffic flowing on the drought impacted Mississippi River. Now back to John for "crop watch".


Crop watch this week...


Al Pell is joined by Gregg Hunt and Brian Basting for our weekly roundtable discussion.


Amid all the minute-by-minute coverage of the fiscal cliff, too little coverage was given to the historic policy change at the Federal Reserve. Chairman Bernanke set aside vague "fed-speak" for precise targeting for monetary policy. Basically, the fed is reweighting its dual responsibility of controlling inflation and battling unemployment. Until the jobless number drops below 6.5% or inflation consistently exceeds 2.5%, interest rates will be essentially flat at their historic lows. For critics who wring their hands over uncertainty, this should clear up one part of the picture. And for those who have been predicting runaway inflation triggered by these fed actions to increase the money supply, the shelf life on those dire forecasts have long since expired. Remember the Phipps rule of economic predictions: if it doesn't come true in two years, it's just wrong. While folks have written in to say there is serious inflation, citing everything from pickup prices to college tuition, we need to keep in mind that inflation is calculated from all the things people buy, not just what you buy. And it has averaged 2.6% for twenty years. Until we get more Americans to work and wages begin to rise for more than the upper class, inflation will not be a threat. The fed actions are a good, but not sufficient step to help that day arrive. The rest of the remedy is to avoid an austerity crisis with agreement on fiscal policy by Congress and the administration.



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. Every Christmas season I try to seek out an unfamiliar Christmas carol to add to my playlist at home. Thanks to modern music technology, I’ve unearthed Bavarian folksongs, Swedish tunes and 19th century American Christmas anthems to add to my collection. Last year i found "Jesus the Light of the World". It's now number three on my all time list. This year I’m adding "When a Child is Born" by the moody blues. Also some standards by tenor Jose Diego Florez. The only problem is my playlist is now roughly 28 hours long. But in my defense, you'll only hear "Little Drummer" boy once.


The Army Corps of Engineers says it has tentatively scheduled two private contractors to remove rock pinnacles on the Mississippi River next week. Those rock formations near southern Illinois are potentially hazardous to towboats on this important shipping channel. One of the tax cuts that could change - as part of the fiscal cliff - is the estate tax. It's levied on property when someone passes away. After much complaining and YouTube protests, the USDA has agreed to let schools feed kids more calories.


Walnut harvest has wrapped-up in California, which grows just about all the walnuts in this country. Its important cash crop for Dax Kimmelshue and his wife Karen. But that's just a part of the success on their farm. Clinton Griffiths says creative ownership is also key.


With Christmas just about a week away, Baxter Black joins us from his ranch with a story about a friend who is no longer with us. A friend who understood the reason for the season.


Al joins us this morning, as we head to the Pacific Northwest for tractor tales. John, we've got a 1923 cross-motor Case 12-20.


Today's country church salute goes to Edinburg United Methodist Church in Edinburg, Illinois. They are celebrating 150 years of ministry. In 1863, the membership built a small wooden structure to hold services. It was known as "Gunns Chapel". It lasted until 19-hundred when the present building was completed. The picturesque church is adorned with exceptional stained glass windows in the sanctuary. Our thanks to the anniversary committee for sharing their news.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag.



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