On The Farm

September 5, 2007

September 5, 2007

Hello everybody out there in farm country.

I spent some time last week in Illinois -- at the Farm Progress Show and at our farm up near Galesburg.

The optimism in farm country is "off the chart." Not that we ain't complaining about a lot of things. Of course, we are. "Look how expensive anhydrous is going to be this fall -- $550 per ton. Production expenses for the 2008 crop will be up at least 10%." It does seem that the minute we get some profit margin it starts to leak away. The crowds at the farm Progress Show got a lirst hand look at corn harvest in action -- machinery and equipment of all kinds.

Secretary of Agriculture Johanns came to the Farm Progress Show and carried the flag for the Ag industry. The focus of the expo as well as his speech was on renewable fuels. This is a demand-driven market.

I was impressed last spring as farmers were deciding what to plant -- soybeans, wheat, cotton, or more corn. The market was calling for more corn and we planted more. That's what $4 corn will make you do. But look at prices now. Corn is closer to $3 and soybeans and wheat up in the $7 range. Soybeans and wheat are saying -- "don't forget about us next year." The bidding for acres next year has already started.

I walked in to several corn fields on my farm -- counted the population -- about 32,000 plants per acre. Hardly any barren stalks. I have 2 perfectly formed ears in my hand now that I picked. They are filled to the end. We're looking at a very good crop. Now, to get it harvested and in the bin.You are never safe until you get it out of the field. That lesson rings clear as a hard wind went across parts of Illinois flattening hundreds of acres of corn, once again reminding us of the uncertainty and risk we live with every day in this business.

Anyway, I can report the crops are good and the pigs happy on the Block farm.

Until next week, I am John Block, down on the farm.