Archive for February 2011
Last week’s weather reminded us that Spring will come as the warm temperatures caused wheat fields to become greener and give us the hint of warmer days to come. This is a good time of the year as daylight hours increase rapidly in the next few weeks and give up a chance to shake cabin fever. One of my cows had a new calf this week and there is a promise of more to come. Life is good.
Leon McClerren, Ralph Smith and I have just return from the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Springfield and the theme of the conference was that there is a lot of work for us to do in both Springfield and Washington.
In Washington, there are two main issues of concern.
First the new Farm Bill is certainly on the horizon as we look to 2012 and begin the preliminary discussion concerning the Farm Bill. One of the issues in the Farm Bill is of course budgetary items – the initial proposal set forth by the Obama Administration would have agriculture receiving a 15% reduction in its budget which is much higher than any other portion of the federal budget. I believe that farmers are willing to take their share in budgetary cuts to programs but this is disproportionate in other areas of the budget that need to be reduced.
Second, the issues of environmental regulations are of great concern to farmers in two areas – the present proposals by the EPA would make all waters regulated by these new EPA regulations. One EPA bureaucrat said that they wanted to regulate every mud hole on every farm. This type of an attitude at the EPA is a great concern to farmers everywhere. The language that would give them the regulatory power to reach into almost every farm in Franklin County would be the “waters of the United States”. In the past the language of navigable waters has been used to limit the reach of the EPA.
The US EPA would also like to have greater regulatory control over the ability of farmers in field spraying operations. It is the desire of the EPA to require any farmer who sprays chemicals to have a permit for such operations. Can you imagine the nightmare of such a regulation? Farm Bureau is working to represent your interest in both of these issues.
In Springfield the concerns of the day are the budgetary issues facing the state budget. The general assembly has already taken care of the interest of tax payers by raising personal income tax by 66%. It seems that is the easy part for our Representatives but the issue of balancing the budget will require reductions in expenditure to solve the problem completely.
It is amazing tome that we could raise our taxes by such a great amount by just one vote of the general assembly but we will debate for months any reduction in any line items of expenditures in the budget.
The easy part is over – the hard part begins!
Another issue that the Illinois General Assembly will have to tackle this spring is the redrawing of congressional and state districts. This task is necessary every ten years after the census and even though the state of Illinois grew in population by 3.3% we will lose one Congressional seat because other states grew more rapidly than Illinois. What this re-districting means to use in Illinois means that there will be a higher leadership from northern Illinois versus southern Illinois. This means more representation for Chicago versus down state Illinois.
We did meet with Representative John Bradley at a reception on Wednesday evening in which he shared with us some of the plans for reductions to the budget. It is obvious that Representative Bradley is very much involved in the budgetary process and we are fortunate to have him as our representative.
We will be calling upon you at times this year to make contacts with our elected officials in effecting a positive outcome on these issues.
Just a reminder to check out our website at fcfbil.org for the latest discussions on these issued.
Remember we are farmers working together, if we can help please let us know.
CONFESSIONS OF A WORKAHOLIC
I suppose as we grow older that we are constantly evaluating our lives but now that I am 60 years of age, it seems that I am looking at a lot of things in my life.
One has been looking back and the possible changes that I would make if I had an opportunity. To be very honest there are very few things that I would change which I suppose means that I have had a very blessed life. I have a wonderful family and have totally enjoyed farming as a lifestyle and vocation. Oh, there are some management decisions I would like to change but all things considered, I have had a blessed life.
During my career as a farmer, many people have said that farmers are a very work orientated lot and that work consumes their lives. Thru the years, I have never believed that I was that type of person and to be honest, I think that I am a little bit lazy.
As a rule, I do not like to get up early and need some motivation to get up with the chickens. At the same time, this past week the alarm has been set for 4 AM most mornings because there was just work that had to be done. Work that has to be done?
This thought brings back memories of my Mom and Dad who seemed to work everyday as if there was no end to the tasks that needed to be completed in a 24 hour period. I always believed that Dad could think of all kinds of work for my brothers and I, just because he thought we ought to be busy. Where did he come up with this work schedule? Everyday was an endless list of things for us to do only to keep us out of trouble not to accomplish anything. Does anyone remember those days?
I must admit that I am pretty slow but now I see that they believed those tasks were important. Now I see that I have been like my parents for many years for I can give a lengthy list of things that need to be done since I have my own farming operation. It seems that the tradition has been passed down to my son for he is busy working on or doing something that has to be done.
I believe that I have figured this thing out. I never believed that it was work if you enjoyed what you are doing. There are a few things that I do not like as well as others but as a whole I enjoy laboring on the farm and taking pride in what I do. Even as I write this article, it is difficult not to think about the things that I would like to be doing on the farm on a warm February Day.
Does this pace make me a workaholic? I suppose that depends on your perspective. Here is a reality check for farmers. Do you fell guilty if you call it a day before dark? Do you believe that what you are doing today cannot wait until tomorrow? Do you find that you spend a little more time in the shop than you do with your wife and children?
If your answer is yes to one of these questions, you may be a workaholic. If you answer yes to all three, you are a problem child. GET A LIFE!
A good work ethic is an attribute, an blind obsession makes a life unbalanced.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.
Grain markets have been on an upward climb since before the harvest of 2010. This week future prices on the board of trade topped $7 on corn and $14.50 on soybeans. Wheat has been a surprising commodity as it has almost doubled in price since last summer.
As I talk with farmers many have philosophically stated that perhaps this market is too high. There are some negatives, and only farmers can find negative in high grain prices, but let’s look at some of the possibilities.
First of all, livestock farmers find it very difficult to make a profit with these high levels for feed. Fat cattle are selling for about $105/per cwt and hogs at $52/per cwt but even at these levels feed costs limit the ability of producers to make a profit. Feed costs could cause some producers to reduce herd size and therefore increase meat prices in the long term.
Secondly, the cost of ethanol production is increased therefore limiting the growth of ethanol use and limiting profitability for ethanol plants. We need to maintain profitable levels for ethanol production to remain a source of use of corn production.
Finally, higher grain prices tend to cause land to increase in value and cost to farmers to skyrocket. This could cause a situation, in which many analyst are predicting, which could cause inflated land prices that could plummet and place farmers in a difficult financial situation, which was the case in the 1980’. This would be similar to the housing market that collapsed in the last two years.
Please understand that ultimately the increase in grain prices has very little effect on food costs as the raw products in most foods are a minimal cost compared to manufacturing, processing and transportation. One comparison is that grain cost for a loaf of bread is equal to one slice of the loaf.
Many farmers are concerned about how increased prices will affect land costs such as landlords wanting higher rent costs and increasing the price of farm land which is at record levels even at this point. I hear many friends make comments that we as farmers are doing very well with these grain prices. Although this is true, much of the grain that is moving to the elevators is grain that was priced anywhere from $3 to the present levels per bushel on corn. I talk with farmers almost every day and even the best of them say that they are delivering corn on contracts as low as $3.50 a bushel.
Just as many of you who deal with markets know that hitting the high point is difficult, farmers find themselves in the same situation. The goal is to make a profit not to hit the highest prices, although that would be good. Most farmers still have some grain to price of the 2010 crop and these prices sure help the bottom line.
Analyzing markets and looking to the future will be the focus of a meeting on February 15th when Dale Durcholz, Market Analyst for AgriVisor, will make a presentation on grain markets and the futures. Everyone is welcome at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast and a short meeting to follow at the Franklin County Far, Bureau Building in Benton.
Also, we will be going to the Louisville Farm Show on February 16th with the bus leaving our office at 6:00 a.m. Please RSVP for both of these events by calling 435-3616.
Remember we are farmers working together if we can help please let us know.
It is hard to believe that February is here but one thing is sure it has been a cold winter to this point. Temperatures have been consistently cold since early December. I must confess that I like the consistency of cold weather rather than the weather that we had on Tuesday, with rain and cold.
The Farm Bureau Board last month voted to develop a website for our county Farm Bureau. I am happy to announce that we have that website up and running. You can view it at www.fcfbil.org. This site continues to evolve and we would certainly be interested in your comments.
Just when you finally complete a task that has been an organizational priority for twelve plus years someone files a legal challenge and you suddenly have it back on you’re to do list! I hate when that happens!
The priority I refer to is uniform truck weights and the issue is the fact that the recent court ruling regarding the unconstitutionally of the 2009 capital bill also affects the truck weight issue because it was attached to that bill.
The Third Division of the Illinois Appellate Court yesterday ruled that the $31 billion capital construction program in 2009 was unconstitutional. Part of that bill contains the provisions of law that allow 80,000 pound access on local roads. Based on the Third Appellate ruling the entire provisions of the capital construction program are void. IFB actively sought and worked to secure the passage of this provision that allowed truck access. Kevin Rund made mention of this repeal at a truck regulation meeting we had this week in out office.
We will be working with the Office of the General Counsel in tracking the progress of this court ruling. We anticipate that the defendants will move to have the case heard by the Illinois Supreme Court. Based on news stories the Governor’s and Attorney General’s office indicated they would be filing motions for appeal and an immediate stay.
Dale Durcholtz will be in our office on February 15 for a Grain Outlook meeting. This meeting will begin with breakfast being served at 7:30 and the meeting immediately following. Also, we will be taking a bus to the Louisville Farm Show on February 16. The bus will leave our office at 6 a.m. and will return at approximately 6 p.m. If you would like to go on this bus trip or attend the Grain Outlook meeting please call the office at 435-3616.
Remember we are farmers working together. If we can help let us know.
Today Kevin Rund was at the Franklin County Farm Bureau Building informing those in attendance about the trucking regulations
Watch the following short video clip: