Let The Good Times Roll

July 11, 2007

July 11, 2007

I was on our Illinois farm last week. The corn is pollinating. Rains came just in time. What a beautiful sight to look out over a huge field -- dark green with shoots, silks, and pollen in the air.

In talking with neighbors up and down our country road, you can't help but feel the powerful mood of optimism. The ag industry is being lifted to a new level.

I have not seen this kind ofeuphoria since Secretary Earl Butz sold grain to the Soviet Union in the 70's. Corn went up, wheat went up. Soybeans, hogs, and cattle. We rode that wave for 6 or 7 years. Exciting times. Then, we fell into recession. We still, however, never went back to the 16 dollar hogs or 90 cent corn.

Is this exciting ride for real? I'm beginning to think so. There will bc ups and downs as there always are in farming. If we can temper our enthusiasm just a little bit; don' t get over-extended financially. That's what hurt us in the 70's. But, farm debt is very low right now. Maybe 15% of asset value. This is a very healthy industry.

There are many reasons to suggest the "good times" can endure. The global demand for food seems to ratchet up every year. Look at China, India, Asia. And, we are all very much aware of the world's voracious appetite for energy. Ethanol, biodiesel, and wind can all playa role.

The world wants something that we have. And, it is renewable. It can be produced every year. It's not like an oil well that runs out of oil.

This can be a big lift to our rural economy. It can mean jobs and economic activity. Think of the hope for our little county towns.

We've seen false hope before, but this is a demand-driven market. I say, "Let the good times roll. "

Until next week, I am John Block from Washington.