The Farm & DC

November 10, 2011

November 10, 2011

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

Last week, Rick Frank was filling in for me. I was on the farm in Illinois as we wrapped up corn and soy bean harvest. Fortunately, we had a beautiful fall to get the work done. What a contrast to 2 years ago when we were still picking corn at Christmas. Yet, it wasn’t simple this year. Our corn – hit by a severe wind storm in July – was twisted and down. A third of the fields had to be picked going one way. Yields were not very good. However, soy beans were terrific – a record yield! Hogs are healthy and going to market.

That reminds me of a very interesting, in fact surprising, fact. All my family life, our hog feed consisted of corn and soy bean meal. Not today. Corn is still king but distillers grain has moved into second place ahead of soy bean meal. Distillers dried grain – a by-product of ethanol production – has become the protein of choice to blend with corn. I’m not suggesting that soy bean meal is not important. It is, but distillers dried grain has proven to be extremely valuable.

This fact is not wellknown outside of the farm gate. It will become well-known because so many livestock producers value distillers grain. And they would not like to see it disappear. That means more livestock producers, instead of hating ethanol, may have to come around and support the ethanol industry; because they love distillers grain, not because they love higher priced corn. It’s about time that the media came to acknowledge that only 60 percent of a bushel of corn turns into ethanol. Forty percent is left as a by-product of that process. That by-product is distillers dried grain.

I’m back in D.C. this week and can’t say I missed anything. The Super Committee that’s supposed to cut the deficit is still in gridlock. The House and Senate Ag Committees are trying to piece together a farm bill plan with 23 billion dollars of cuts. When they get it done, if they get it done, they will present it to the Super Committee as agriculture’s contribution to deficit reduction.

There are more questions than answers as to what will be in the plan. Will the Super Committee accept the plan, or will the Super Committee ever get their overall proposal completed by the Thanksgiving deadline? Nobody knows. Stay tuned.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.