Dog Days of August

August 11, 2005

August 11, 2005

Yes, these are the "dog days of August." It's hot. Gas prices are through the roof. The War in Iraq doesn't seem to be going well. Drought has hurt the corn crop. Grain prices are scraping the bottom -corn, wheat, soybean, even cotton. The President's approval ratings are down but the approval ratings of Congress are far worse.

I'm reminded of what another former Secretary of Agriculture, Richard Lyng, told me on more than one occasion. "When times are good, you think they'll never get bad, and when times are bad you think they'll never get good. That's the way we tend to think, but it's wrong. Even today, there are some good things happening.

  1. After 4 years of debate, we, at long last, have an energy bill that provides a fuel standard that will double the amount of ethanol in gasoline by 2012.
  2. In the face of heavy opposition, CAFTA was passed.
  3. Beef is still in strong demand despite on-again-off-again BSE findings. Hats off to the consumer for such good judgment.
  4. Hog prices are hanging in there. "Hogs are Beautiful!"
  5. Right after Labor Day we will get a vote in the Senate to eliminate the death tax. It may not pass but even if it doesn't, a good compromise should be possible.
  6. The U.S. economy is growing in strength and should provide demand pull for our products.
  7. Cooler weather is on the way.
  8. I even expect energy prices to cool. (Don't bet the farm on that.)
  9. I don't like to say this but next year hog prices will probably be down.
  10. At some point, grain will go up. Maybe next year or the next.

Although it will be cooler after Labor Day in the Heartland, it will be hotter out here. The Congress will be debating the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice.

Stay tuned.

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.