USFR Weekly Recap - October 13-14, 2012

October 13, 2012 09:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2044
OCTOBER 13-14, 2012



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. When things aren't going as well as hoped on our farm, we often expect trouble to pile on from outside. Consequently, I was mildly surprised by the October crop report. Tyne has the numbers in a minute, but when I got up the nerve to see the figures it at least didn't make my day worse. This is an unfortunate problem with our brains. Under stress, we tend to see the clouds behind every silver lining. This will pass of course, but I’m guessing that will occur when the last pass of the combine is made.


For the fourth straight month, USDA has reduced the size of the 2012 corn crop. As far as the supply-demand tables. USDA pegs 2012-13 corn ending stocks to fall to 619 million bushels, the smallest since 1995. USDA also lowered export projections by 100-million bushels, based on slow sales and strong competition from Brazil. Despite some weather and pest challenges, it appears China may have a big corn crop this year. That’s the forecast from the U.S. Grains Council which just concluded its annual tour of China's corn harvest. Meanwhile, a strong warning from the World Bank that growth in Asia may continue it’s slow down came this week. This sent the price of oil down sharply Monday. Emerging markets like China and India kept oil consumption high throughout the global recession.


Crop watch this week...


Now Al takes over to talk markets with Mike North and Chip Nellinger. 


A recent report on obesity trends in the United States has no good news concerning this alarming trend. According to several recent studies, nearly half of all Americans will have a body mass index - BMI - over 30 by 2030. In thirteen states in the south and Midwest it could reach 60%. Talking about obesity is tricky, so we don't much. The odds of offending a listener are obviously very high. But I think this health trend will soon exert itself as an economic factor. Already obesity is cancelling out the health cost gains from less smoking. Incredibly, heavier passengers are likewise frustrating efforts by car makers to improve mileage by using lighter materials in autos. Obesity is often seen as a failure of personal willpower, especially by the non-obese. If true, something unusual must have happened to American character shortly after 1990 when the obesity rate was just 10%. Because we are reluctant to assign or take the blame personally, I think more criticism will be aimed at our food supply, and that will be felt all the way down on the farm. The recent troubles for high fructose corn syrup could just be the beginning of efforts to change our food system. Blaming food may not be fair or even the best way to attack this problem, but it's easier than angering customers. Above all with obesity rates highest among low income citizens, maybe we should rethink our strategy of cheap food being our answer for all our policy arguments.



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. I said goodbye to an old friend recently. Warren and I grew up 2miles from each other, spent 12 years together in a tiny country school, and farmed adjacent to each other all our careers. Warren was 13 days older than me - you remember these things when your school class was about the size of a family. He was a very good farmer - not exactly what you want right next to you. But he was also a very good neighbor. Warren was a talker, and when he and I stopped in the middle of a country road, an hour could fly by as we chattered away. Good farmers leave a lasting mark on their farms. They also leave wonderful memories in the hearts of their friends.


There's new ammunition in the argument over ethanol mandates and the impact on U.S. corn prices. The study conducted by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute - or 'FAPRI', supports the pro-ethanol crowd. Meanwhile, The National Chicken Council is urging the a full one year waiver of the RFS mandate on behalf of U.S. poultry producers. The council says farms are being forced out of business or filing bankruptcy because the price of feed is just too high. A new study by the council looked at the economic impact of a full waiver of the RFS by the EPA. The calculations show the price of corn would fall by more than 2 dollars per bushel. More drought relief is expected to hit the Midwest this week. NOAA projects states like Missouri and Illinois will receive as much as 3 inches of rain through the end of next week, including some severe weather. This could stall the record harvest pace in some areas. An eastern Illinois farmer, however, says harvest is so far ahead, he's not too worried.    


The efforts of FFA and 4H members to make a difference are getting recognized by the White House. Twelve chapter and club members from across the country were each named as a "Champion of Change' during a ceremony this week in Washington. The honorees devote a lot of their time and effort to their communities. They were invited to the White House to share their stories.


One of them is Ridge Howell who is President of the Checotah Oklahoma FFA. Ridge was recognized because of the chapter's anti-hunger campaign. That initiative is part of National FFA's food for all project. Tyne Morgan takes us to that small Oklahoma community with a diverse population of students who are eager to learn and grow. Next week we're off to central Michigan to meet a collector of "Americana".  His impressive assortment really helps document farm life in the wolverine state.


A trip to Barnes and Noble these days can be overwhelming...almost too much to choose from.  But when it comes to "barnyard best sellers", leave it to Baxter Black to come up with the list.  He joins us now from his Arizona ranch.


Al where are we headed this week for tractor tales? We're headed to the Pacific Northwest.


Today's country church salute goes to Saint Boniface Catholic Church in Wimbledon, North Dakota. St. Boniface has been serving the region for 140 years. In 1895 the congregation decided to move the church from the country into town. They used a sleigh and a team of 20 horses to do the job. They decided to build a larger church in 1907. It was destroyed by fire that same year. But the faithful membership built once again. That church building still stands today. It's now under the watchful eye of Father John Ejike. Our thanks to Pam Clemens for sharing the history of St. Boniface.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag. We had this response to my remarks about prop 37 on GMO labeling in California.



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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