Published: 05 October 2013
The big news at the beginning of this past week was that Congress was headed back to Washington, D.C. for the fall session. Normally that wouldn’t be big news, but with the agenda of the President these days, one has to watch out.
One dislikes to keep complaining about Washington, D.C. We’re hearing as I write this column that some members of Congress say there could be a farm bill by the end of the month. The two parties are really going to have to kiss and make up if that is to happen. We do need a farm bill for the stability of the industry. While some say livestock producers will not benefit greatly from any farm bill, we all need to know what the rules are. As a past article in Beef Magazine read, “Certainly, we know that any single line of the farm bill can create significant ramifications, and there remains a laundry list of items that the industry is concerned about. In the end, however, the biggest questions facing the industry are not likely to be answered by the current farm bill.”
The article went on to say that farming is perceived as being a lot like teaching school or being a policeman. We appreciate what they do, but it’s understood they generally aren’t professions where one gets rich. I would say that, these days if you are in farming and you’re out of debt, you are going to do pretty well. Most of us vividly remember the ag crisis of the mid-1980s, and then we saw how ethanol subsidies have reshaped the face of agriculture in the last several years.
Regardless of high prices farmers still need crop insurance for stability. Some say that farmers need government subsidies or food prices will skyrocket. I think that is most likely a true statement. It’s hard to go to a banker when prices are so volatile. As we hear now days that some grain elevators are only giving $3.50 for a bushel of corn. As the saying goes, “You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul,” but they both need to make a living. We all want to make money, but does it have to be at the expense of others?
Now Congress talks about the upcoming food crisis. How do we manage that? Some blame climate change, and no one can agree what causes climate change. There is a change in the climate, but maybe there always has been. How are carbon emissions any worse than a lot of volcanoes? How can America be expected to clean up its act, but China and India foul up the world’s air? We go broke with regulations, and they get the best of everything.
This past week Congress will be talking about supporting the President on strikes on Syria, which needs a lot of thought and debate. In the meantime, we are giving Syria time to prepare for strikes and retaliation against Israel.
The big question for Congress is whether America’s farmers are so good at their job that they can actually out produce the artificial demand created by ethanol. The answer to that question will determine whether farming profits have been elevated to new levels, leading to the next question – what do increased farming profits do for the livestock industry?