Agribusiness

Federal Crop Insurance

November 1 2006

When the next farm bill is written, everything will be in the spotlight. Some might say in the cross hairs for elimination. Federal Crop Insurance will not be an exception.

The federal government pays 60% of farmer premiums for their crop insurance. With a bad crop, insurance will pay a farmer as much as 95% of the income he would get from an average crop. If you are farming marginal land, that is a deal that is hard to refuse. The result -- farmers plant land that would be otherwise left…

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Farm Exports

November 14 2004

For years and years we have bragged about the surplus of farm exports over imports. In fact 20 years ago we exported twice as much food as we imported and helped to keep the trade deficit from getting any worse. Would you believe that in June and August of this year our farm trade surplus melted away? We'll have a surplus for the year --- However, it is likely that in 1 or 2 years farm sales will be in deficit.

It's not that our exports have collapsed. In fact, we are exporting 50% more…

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The War and Agriculture

April 8 2003

It's been a long time since we went into a planting season with more uncertainty than we face today. We have a war against terrorism, a war in Iraq, a soft economy and drought in many parts of this country. A budget deficit forcing Congress to cut spending -- maybe ours -- and farm prices continue to languish.

Where do we go from here? Is there any other way to go but up? First, I think the war will be a net plus for agriculture in both the Sh0l1 term and long term. Short term, President…

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Farming in 2003

January 6 2003

Closing out the books on 2002 and starting to focus on the New Year. What will it bring? Will the Congress cut our farm bill supports? Will the long sough after 2002 disaster relief that wasn't in the Christmas stocking yet appear? Will we suffer draught or floods or another chicken embargo? I guess if we knew all ofthese answers, we wouldn't have to work.

I realize some farming regions struggled with devastating drought last year. Still, I doubt that the congress will find very much…

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Food Safety

November 13 2001

Things are happening on the farm and food front. A furious and confusing farm bill debate rages in the Senate. A completed bill for the President to sign still seems unlikely this year. When will Congress complete the appropriations bill for the President to sign? That is one thing they have to finish before adjourning. I think they'll still be here working into December.

Trade promotion authority according to House Speaker Denny Hastert is coming to a vote. We have an ongoing debate…

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Best of Times, Worst of Times

September 26 2000

I pick up a big city newspaper and read the criticism of the generous support for farmers in this election year. Okay, I'll admit the support is generous. But to provide some balance to this evaluation of the situation, it might be worth taking inventory of other conditions working against the farmer.

Is your diesel fuel much more expensive? What about the LP gas drying your com? Just wait 'til you see the price tag for nitrogen fertilizer. The simple fact is the higher energy prices will…

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PIK Program

September 13 2000

Say it isn't so! Not the PIK program again. Yes, that's what it is. This time for sugar. I really thought PIK (payment in kind) was history. But I guess not. We have too much sugar and with the loan rate where it is, it appears the sugar processors are going to forfeit at least 500,000 tons of sugar to the government. Secretary Glickman does not want the sugar. He already owns 125,000 tons. The sugar beet farmers are about to harvest another big crop. I introduce you to payment in kind.…

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Freedom to Farm

April 25 2000

Recently I was asked to testify before the House Ag Committee. The subject: the Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act, better known as Freedom to Farm. The hearing was well attended, chaired by House Ag Committee Chair Larry Combest and backed by Congressman Charlie Stenholm and several other farm state congressmen.

My message to them was simple. With the low farm prices that we have experienced, Freedom to Farm has been an easy target for criticism.

Yet, we should not forget:…

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