Agriculture Today

July 14, 2004

July 14, 2004

I was down on this farn this past week. We may have been afraid of draught, floods and all kinds of production problems, but I've never seen our corn and soybean prospects look any better.

I took time away from the farm to drive down from Galesburg, IL to the Lake of the Ozarks in MO where I spoke on the program of the National Pork Industry Conference. The crops all the way down looked great. I realize the windshield look can hide problems in the interior of the fields but I come away convinced that at least where I have been, we won't be disappointed when the combine pulls in the field in the fall.

I talked with attendees that had driven in from all different directions -- from Minnesota, from Nebraska, from Indiana, from Oklahoma. The consensus -- there is a big crop in the making. The conference was about pork, and with hog marketings up 4% and prices up 25% there were a lot of smiling faces in the room. It is hard to believe 25% price increase in the face of a 4% increase in hogs to market. How can this be? First, our exports are up an annoying 38%. But even more important is the surging demand for protein. Not just pork, but of course, beef and poultry and eggs. The new found acceptance of meat is the most rapid and radical turn around in public attitude that I have seen is my life. Just a few years ago all the nutritionists were attacking meats for being too fat, just bad for your health. Suddenly the Atkins and South Beach diets, heavy on protein are the rage. They work.

Obesity is recognizes as our greatest health risk. But can you believe it, riding to the rescue -- it's Dr. Atkins. At first in denial, nutritionists are shocked at the explosive demand for protein and rejection of carbs.

The chickens can't even lay enough eggs to satisfy the demand. It seems like yesterday eggs were totally out of favor because they were high in cholesterol.

These are good times for fanners and ranchers. Take advantage. Pay down a little debt. Save a little. Let' s not forget that this is a cyclical business.

Until next week. I am John Block from Washington.