THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT
NOVEMBER 26-27, 2011
AL’S OPEN: Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I'm Al Pell - in for John Phipps. As harvest wraps up across much of the heartland, we once again will use this holiday weekend to present "Harvest of Thanks" - our annual tribute to American agriculture. Our farm tour this year includes stops in Illinois, Idaho, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma. That's coming up in the second half hour of our program. But first, we cover the business of agriculture - starting with the week's top headlines.
PORK PROFITS: We begin with a positive outlook for the pork industry. Purdue ag economist Chris Hurt says producers should see a return to profitability in the year ahead. Hurt says profits are expected to be near $17.00 a head...the highest since 2006. Along with making adjustments to manage high-priced feed, he says the outlook is for cheaper feed in 2012. Overall, hurt expects hog prices to hit the low 70's by the second quarter and fall back from there.
CATTLE ON FEED: New numbers from the government show feedlots across the heartland are filling up. The latest cattle-on-feed shows November first inventory totaled 11.9 million head...a 4% bump from a year ago. According to the ag department, this is the second highest November count since the series began in 1996. At the same time, placements in October were right at 2.5 million...down a point from the year before.
BEEF EXPORTS: Expanding markets around the world are paying off for American beef producers. For the month of September beef exports were up a robust 27%. Market watchers say the global appetite for American beef is wide-spread.
FARM BILL UPDATE: Also this week, a bi-partisan plan to trim 23-billion dollars in ag spending dies a political death. The proposal was hammered out by house and senate ag committee leaders. But once it became part of the overall reduction package, it was shelved when the so-called super-committee couldn't reach agreement.
HARVEST WRAP: In the fields, harvest of the 2011 corn and soybean crops has all but wrapped. As of last weekend, the ag department reported 96% of the corn crop was in the bin, up three points from the week before. Trailing the farthest behind is Ohio where only 69% of the crop had been harvested. For soybeans, harvest is all but done nationwide. The ag department will release its final crop progress report next week.
CROP WATCH: Crop watch this week is a three-state swing beginning in Kansas. A grower in the north-central part of the state says harvest is done for the year. Despite a summer filled with 100-degree temperatures, yields were above average for both corn and beans. A farmer in Green County, Wisconsin reports his bean yields were some of the best ever - averaging 60-plus-bushels an acre. Corn yields were also strong - averaging more than 180-bushels an acre. On the other end of the spectrum, a grower in Dickinson County, Iowa reports corn yields were below average due to early wetness...he also report bean yields in the mid 50's.
ROUNDTABLE: Darren Frye and Greg Wagner
JOHN’S WORLD: We wrap things up this half hour with John's world. This week, he offers his opinion on the impact slow government can have on international trade. Beef producers have been twiddling their collective thumbs, impatiently waiting for their largest customer - Japan - to lift age restrictions on imported beef, fully opening this key market. It does seem to be taking a long time to resolve. But to be fair, practically every democratic government around the world has found their processes slowed by rules and procedures designed to protect minorities and insure all voices are heard. Here in the U.S. we have arcane senate rules that permit a handful or even one senator to bring the legislative process to a halt. We continue the outdated Electoral College system that a large majority of Americans favor abolishing as a way to protect small state interests. In short, the rules designed to prevent the tyranny of a majority have been converted into paralyzing agents for special interests. The bottom line is normally slow processes become glacial. Meanwhile, the rest of the rest of the world is operating in nanoseconds, as trade and finance flit around the globe in the blink of an eye. I'm not the only one who sees the mismatch here. Pressures are building for work-arounds to avoid governmental logjams of our own making. We should not be surprised to see the influence of powerful players like large corporations or technology providers grow simply because they can still work in something close to real time. Gradually it is dawning on us that slow government is no government. Let us know what you think.... Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or call and leave us a voice mail.