USFR Weekly Recap - September 1-2, 2012

September 1, 2012 09:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2038
SEPTEMBER 1-2, 2012



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. The time warp we call 2012 continues in much of the Midwest. Just this week as the soggy remnants of Isaac lumbered toward our farm, we pushed our harvesting efforts hard to relieve fragile stalks of their meager crop. The corn was testing 17% and there were long lines at the elevator - all indicators of peak harvest season. Now couple that with children already finishing their second week of school, and the completion of the Farm Progress Show.  I was positive when I turned the calendar this weekend it would show October. Just like the time change, I suspect I will soon be floundering with an extra month, just like I do with the extra hour each fall.


It appears agriculture continues to be one of the few bright spots in the American economy. It appears farm incomes will also reach a new high this year. When it comes to swine production, the news is not so good. During the Farm Progress Show this week, key commodity groups are pushing lawmakers to make some "progress" with the 2012 Farm Bill.


Crop watch this week tours the "n" states. When we come back - we're off to Iowa as our round-table gathers before a big crowd at the Farm Progress Show.  The discussion begins in just two minutes - please stay with us.


Our marketing round-table takes us to the steamy Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa. Farm Director Al Pell picks-up the discussion.


As we reported earlier, Chris Hurt of Purdue issued a sobering forecast for hog producers. Despite vigorous exports, the skyrocketing prices for corn and soybeans will translate into massive losses for the pork industry in the months ahead. Nor can this outcome be tempered by herd reduction - sow slaughter is already booked out 6 weeks or more, as producers try to thin herds. While it is easy for corn producers to fault Mother Nature and this epic drought, the mandated consumption of corn for ethanol clearly is the major factor. The battle between food and fuel is essentially over, however. Several economists have pointed out how ethanol has been protected long enough to grow into a durable demand that can outlast animal agriculture in the bidding frenzy for corn. Corn producers went to war with their best customers, and even as they cash subsidized crop insurance checks, will enjoy record incomes this year as they paradoxically deliver far less product to the market. What grain farmers are missing is the short-sightedness of this pyrrhic victory. By squeezing meat and dairy prices, they are the principal agents in the trend away from meat and dairy consumption. Corn farmers will do what millions of doctors could not: radically alter the American diet. Let the mandate go. While it is too little too late, it will cost them only a few cents, and put some slight distance between them and the carnage in the livestock sector.


Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. The drought has spawned a curiosity in corn country - the emergence of silage choppers in places that had not seen them for decades. In my small corner of the world, what little livestock is left tends to be small herds of cows and calves that grain farmers run over hilly, non-tillable acres. It amazes me how attached many get to these animals, even though they are hardly a profit center. Anyway, the total lack of hay has prompted the importation of silage crews and bagging machines to provide fodder for the winter. With the reminder of silo foundations still on our farm, it's odd explaining to my grandson just what silage is.


Farmers are wondering about the seeds they'll need to plant next years' crop. The state of Iowa wants to make sure the effects of the summer drought won't be found in milk. The Iowa Department of AG is now requiring all grade 'a' and grade 'b' farm bulk milk be tested for aflatoxin. This includes milk tankers and farm-can milk loads. The drought has left many ranchers in search of hay. In Missouri, ranchers are turning to suppliers in the southern U.S., which is increasing the risk for red imported fire ants. Hay is required to be USDA inspected and certified before being shipped out of states where red imported fire ant populations exist. Currently fire ants aren't a problem in Missouri, but with so much imported hay, the University of Missouri extension is concerned this could change.


As we know very well in this business, land is precious and valuable. But how do you put a price on land that's used by a prison. Well when it's used by inmates to grow their own food supply and learn new work skills, the results may be priceless. Chuck Denney has details in this report provided by the University of Tennessee. Next week - a Texas farmer who is beating cancer with help from his farm - and his friends. That story next week on "spirit of the heartland".


The U.S. drought monitor continues to show a wide swath of red across the country...and we should see a big change next week in this map after meteorologists take into account the rainfall associated with tropical storm Isaac. Unfortunately, the heavy showers and wind can damage harvest-ready crops in the south.


One of the biggest buyers of U.S. soybeans is concerned this summer’s drought will impact its ability to buy the important commodity. But U.S. soybean leaders are assuring the Chinese the supply will be there.  Regional reporter Michelle Rook traveled to Beijing to get the story.


Tractor tales this week takes us to southeast Michigan.


Today's country church salute goes to First Congregational Church-United Church of Christ in Gaylord, Michigan. Gaylord was a northern Michigan lumber town, located at the end of the rail line. That location helped the town grow. The congregation was established in 1874. Four years later, they built their first church. Back in the day, a young boy was paid the handsome sum of 25-cents per Sunday to pump the bellows on the church organ. Church member Alan Davis says they are a small church, but they continue service to the community by offering a dinner every Friday for the less fortunate. The current pastor is reverend Susan Webler.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag....Mark Lenertz argues that agribusinesses are the big winners in the price run-up - not farmers:


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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