I was reading this post on the projected profitability of corn and felt there was something missing. First the Information that caught my attention.
“The corn profit picture for 2012 isn’t quite as rosy as 2011, but the marketplace could still offer very lucrative returns for growing corn this season, says Chad Hart, Iowa State University agricultural economist.
“In Iowa, we’re projecting season-average prices to range between $5.30 and $5.40/bu., and we’re projecting inputs costs to be about $4.40/bu.,” says Hart. “So, if that holds true, the market in Iowa will be offering 90¢-$1/bu. in profits to grow corn for 2012. Returns from growing corn in Iowa last year have averaged about $1.60/bu., but that corn is still being sold.”
Historically, anything over zero is a good return for corn, because government subsidies have typically provided adequate profit incentive, even when the market has not, adds Hart. He notes that from 1972 to 2008, the return on a bushel of corn averaged -7¢/bu.”
Wow, a negative 7¢/bu. return on corn from 1972 to 2008, how can this be. You cannot continue in any business this long if you are losing money.
Then there is the part about government subsidies providing enough money to provide adequate profit incentive. That piddling amount that we get, adequate? I’ve never received more than a percent or two of my gross income from the government, and it always comes with a lot of strings attached, meaning extra work for me. Sorry, it is not adequate for me, it is next to nothing.
Something must be out of wack here, because I don’t remember losing money from 1972 to 2008. I would not have been able to feed my family, much less put three kids through college and go on a vacation or two, on a negative income.
Obviously I am not the norm here. I expect to make a profit, or be pushed out. Yes, I’ve gone through lean years, but there was always something there to feed the family. Of coarse I do not only grow corn, and that has helped.
So, I’ll take the increase in profitability that is available for me now, I have some very old debts to pay off. It will be nice to make a buck a bushel or more in profits. I know if we make money now, we will have some lean years ahead to make up for it.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, family, Farm, Farm Bureau, Minnesota, P & E | Tags: Agriculture education, care, children, farm, Farm Bureau, farmers, farmers care, Minnesota, minnesota farm bureau federation
So the press release said….
Farm Bureau Members Attend Promotion & Education Conference in Rochester
Nearly 100 county Farm Bureau members from Minnesota attended the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) Promotion and Education (P&E) Conference January 27-28 at the Kahler Grand Hotel in Rochester, Minnesota.
Attendees toured Gar-Lin Dairy, Pork and Plants Greenhouse, White Water Winery, Hormel Institute, EDP Wind Farm LLC and the Spam Museum.
During the conference, they heard from featured presenters Laura Daniels from Wisconsin and Michael Swanson, senior vice president, agricultural economist and consultant of Wells Fargo.
In addition, they heard presentations on social media, estate planning, national policy update, media training, safety panel, consumer outreach, precision agriculture, risk management and make and take – hands on classroom activities.
Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Paap and Minnesota Corn Growers President John Mages also addressed conference participants.
The conference was sponsored by the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation P&E State Committee. The 2013 conference is scheduled for January 25-26, 2013 in Bloomington.
For more information about Minnesota Farm Bureau contact your local Farm Bureau office, log onto www.fbmn.org.
That is not the whole story. In fact, that synopsis makes the whole event kind of boring. The meetings were anything but boring. Every year the Promotion and Education Committee spend a lot of time getting together some of the best speakers available. They were funny, they were educational and they were all about important subjects. The best part of the whole event may have been the opportunity to talk with others at the Conference about themselves.
Farmers have a bad habit of talking in numbers. We do that to help understand each others farms. The problem is that our customers, those who eat the food we produce, do not care about the numbers. They want to know about us. They want to know about our families and about how much we care. Our customers want to know that we raise our families on the land because we feel it is the best for them. They want to know that we treat our animals and our land like it should be, with care, understanding and respect. We were challenged to not talk in numbers, but to talk about the things we hold most dear.
This years Promotion and Education Conference was a lot of fun, and very educational. I’d be glad to tell you about it sometime.
Filed under: Ag education, Corn, Farm, fertilizer, food, genetic modification, GMO, Minnesota | Tags: Agriculture education, Corn, farm, harvest, Minnesota
Some would say that Minnesota, especially southern Minnesota, is made to grow corn. Most years we grow more corn per acre than all but the top producing states. Of course, Iowa is tops producing 2.334 billion bushels of corn, but you can raise corn in all of Iowa. Minnesota comes in 4th place with 1.224 billion bushels of corn, most of that grown in the southern half of the state.
What really impresses me is how much more corn we raise in Minnesota on each acre these years than in the past. Take a look at this.
- 2011 160 Bu/Acre
- 2001 130 Bu/Acre
- 1991 120 Bu/Acre
- 1981 110 Bu/Acre
- 1971 83 Bu/Acre
- 1961 65 Bu/Acre
That is really an impressive increase in yield per acre in my lifetime. Some of the early years of yield increase were due to the introduction of hybrid seeds and modern fertilizers, which dramatically increased yields over open pollinated corn. The increase in the last ten years has been due to the revolution in genetic engineering.
The amazing thing about these increases is that many of the advances in the last thirty years have been done with less fertilizer, pesticide and insecticide than we used before the 1980′s. With the help of university and private researchers the U.S. farmer has also cut erosion, pollution, machinery cost and labor cost per bushel in the same time period. The farmer of today has learned to produce with so much less waste. We have had to, to be able to feed so many in the world today.
A greater challenge is ahead of us. As our world population increases, we are going to have to get more efficient yet. Very few thought we could produce as much as we do now in the 1970′s, I expect we will be up to the challenge fifty years from now.
Filed under: Ice, Minnesota, pond, snow, weather | Tags: january thaw, melt, melting snow, Minnesota, open water, pond, snow, southwestern minnesota, weather, winter
Here it is January 26, and the temperature is almost 40 degrees. That may be cold for some others, but for our part of southwestern Minnesota, it is wonderful. We’ve had a few days lately where the temperatures were just below freezing with cloudy weather, but today the sun came out and snow started to melt.
The snow melting off of the roof was making a lot of noise coming down the spout from the rain gutter. Anyplace with only a little snow is now free of snow.
Our pond got some welcome recharge as water covered the ice and infiltrated the snow. I had placed a bubbler in the pond to keep up the oxygen level and with the warmer weather the open area has really grown.
Yes, we do have snow left. Anyplace where snow had piled up over three inches deep is still covered and not likely to go away today, but less snow covering is welcome. This January thaw has gotten everyone in a good mood. Winter will not linger long now.
Filed under: food, organic, Politics | Tags: big box stores, buy local, Food, politics, Walmart, walmarts
Bigger is better has been the mantra of so much of business for many years. But bigger can lead to many problems. Let’s call it the Walmart effect.
We all have shopped in Walmart stores. This behemoth of commerce is effecting everything we do now days. Today, Walmart has a larger influence on what many countries produce than government does. It is said that the buyers from Walmart get royal treatment when visiting China, better treatment than the U.S. Secretary of State. They handle more money than most countries. Thus, what Walmart wants, Walmart gets.
You can see it today in the meat case at your grocery. When Walmart recently changed the grade of beef it sold, prices across the country shifted. Long established buying practices moved overnight. How can the little guy keep up. The truth is, they cannot.
We decry the shoddy way that things we buy are made, but it is all our fault. We would rather buy at the big box store for less, than buy a better quality, slightly higher priced, product.
We lament the loss of the small farmer, but he was not fast enough to adapt to a Walmart world view, so the guy that did adapt is now farming his land.
We go into the store to buy our favorite chicken products, but do not understand that they cannot be grown on a small farm, processed at a small butcher shop, and be sold to the consumer for the same price as meat produced in a larger flock.
Currently there is a shortage of organic milk, because Walmart is buying up all that they can. Prices are going higher as demand outstrips supply.
We have sacrificed quality for price. We thought that cheaper was better. Now we are paying the price by letting the “Walmarts” of the world control our lives.
Will it end? No. No matter how much we complain about the way the products we buy are produced, we still demand that they be produced cheaper. If you want better, buy from the producer, not a “Walmart.” Our buying patterns have been analyzed by large merchandisers and they have found we will buy cheaper over better. We are demanding cookie cutter duplication of things that are individual.
Can you still buy quality? Yes. But it is getting harder. So few people make enough money anymore to afford the craftsmanship of hand made. Foods raised in small plots are around, but they cost more. The little guy that fixed your appliances has been put out of business by throw away merchandise.
We have done this to ourselves. We are to blame for the rise of the country sized company.
The next time you get upset about “too big to fail” businesses, just remember, we made them this way.
Me, I’ve never liked buying things in the big box stores. If there is a small town store that has the same stuff, I prefer to shop there.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, Farm Bureau, fish, Fishing, food, Hawaii, hunger | Tags: Agriculture education, american farm bureau federation, beef, Farm Bureau, fish, Food, food distribution, hunger, pork, raising cattle, shrimp industry
On my recent American Farm Bureau Federation trip to Hawaii I got into a few discussions about the food available in paradise. When we are in such a lush area we may think that getting food would be no problem. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First off you have to remember that Hawaii has a limited amount of land that is suitable for farming. Much of the big island of Hawaii is covered in lava rock and has trouble supporting a goat. The areas that are in production are mostly for raising cattle. The largest cattle ranch in the United States is in Hawaii. Little of the island is either suitable, or gets enough rainfall for production of food.
While on Oahu we drove past large areas that do get enough rainfall, and do have good soil for food production, but these areas are fallow. Since sugarcane and pineapple production moved to other countries where labor is cheaper, no one wants to farm the land.
Hawaiian acres that are farmed are mostly used for the production of high cost items like coffee and macadamia nuts. There are areas that seed companies use to get a winter crop of corn or soybeans, but again these are high value crops. Very few are raising the staples needed for everyday life. There is an abundance of tropical flowers, but most flowers cannot be eaten.
You would think there would be an abundance of fresh seafood in Hawaii as they have a tradition of farming the sea. The shrimp industry is supplied by many farm raised shrimping operations, as well as both fresh and salt water ponds for fish production. Most of these are sold to tourists at roadside seafood shacks.
But my conversation with a chef in one of the larger restaurants in Honolulu showed me some cracks in the food supply.
- Despite having the largest cattle ranch in the country, there is nowhere to process these cattle. Cattle must leave the island to be processed, so there is no major source of locally grown beef.
- The islands large chinese population eats a lot of pork, but there are no large pork producers on the islands, and pork must be sourced elsewhere.
- While Hawaii seems to be a fisher mens paradise, most of the fish eaten in Honolulu is shipped from other countries.
- Despite the large amount of vegetables used in cuisine for those who like the oriental cooking preferred by so many in Hawaii, most is imported.
- Rice, a stable in most of the meals eaten in the islands, is not grown here.
The list goes on. In short, Hawaii is a land on the edge. One person I talked to estimated that there was enough food on the islands to last 5 days, perhaps less in the more populated regions. Wow, what will it take to put Hawaii over the edge, not much. In fact, Hawaii, like most other large cities in the world cannot survive long if we have a major transportation problem.
Our modern world has become so dependent on so few to be sure it is fed everyday. A shortage of transportation fuels would doom so many unprepared people. I live in an area of abundance of food, yet a large snowstorm can decimate the shelves of the local grocery.
Hawaii and its food supply is a warning. Where is your next meal coming from. Are you sure there will be food to eat if something happens to our food distribution system.
Filed under: Hawaii, rain, travel | Tags: garden, Hawaii, Honolulu, memorial, Oahu, rain, water
OK, so after three trips to the island of O’ahu, and several people asking me what they thought should be seen, I decided to put together a top picks list. All of these are on any major tourist map of the island, but few of these are “commercial” tourist stops. Most require a fee to enter or at least park, but not all. Note, finding places in Hawaii is not always easy. Roads are narrow, traffic is a mess, and many really good sites are on the end of dead end roads.
Since many of these are from past trips I did not include photos. Check back to earlier posts. I did not feel I needed to cover all of them again.
Many place names seem the same. Wai, in any name means fresh water, Kai, means salt water. With water being such a large part of Hawaiian culture it is no wonder that it figures into so many place names.
Yes, I have ranked them according to the ones you MUST see and those you should see. There are many other wonderful places to visit, not all of them famous, spend some time and explore. Get off of the beach.
10) Makapu’u Point – On the eastern end of the Island of O’ahu, this overlook could be a place to see whales in season. When the weather is nice you can see several of the islands to the east of O’ahu. There is a parking lot and a paved trail to the overlook. I’ve been past here, but not to the top. It’s a reason I need to go back.
9) Lanikai and Kailua Beaches – On the north east side of the island, this is a really great beach. It has none of the hype of Waikiki, and is not easy to get to, but worth the trip. This is where the locals go.
Take a jacket and hang on to your hat. When the ocean breeze meets the mountains you can have a real wind here. The over look can be reached from the Pali Highway as you cross the island from Honolulu to Kailua and Lanikai. I’ve visited this site every trip to the island.
The site of a famous battle for the union of the Kingdom of Hawaii under one ruler, the cliff face looks north towards the side of O’ahu that many tourists never see.
7) Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. If you want to snorkel with the fishes, this is the place. Sorry, I’ve never been here, I’m just going on reports of those who have been here. Another reason I need to make another trip.
6) Iolani Palace -
The only royal palace in the United States, come here to find out how this noble Victorian Era Kingdom was run and prospered until some of the influential Anglos decided to take over. At one time this palace looked out over the harbor, now buildings and fill have moved it far inland and hide the sea from its windows. After the death of the queen it was used for government offices, but it has now been restored and has many of the original furnishings and artwork. Check out some of the other buildings in the area, you may see some you recognize from movies and TV shows.
5) The National Cemetery of the Pacific, aka The Punch Bowl
You’ve seen this statue if you ever saw a commercial for the TV series Hawaii 5-0. Situated in an old volcanic crater, this memorial to the dead of WWII and the Korean Conflict is a place that needs some time.
The stunning mosaics of the major battles of the Pacific are worth the trip alone. Do wander around and see all of the sights. Don’t miss the walkway to the Honolulu overlook.
4) Diamond Head – The first travelers here saw the reflection of light off of this extinct volcano and thought it was covered in Diamonds. Do find your way around to the tunnel and parking lot inside. It’s a bit of a hike to the top, but the view of the city and the reefs out in the ocean are worth it. Don’t stop at the first view port, crawl through and continue the trail to the top.
3) The Bishop Museum – You’ll need time to explore this place. Just the museum of Polynesian artifacts can take the whole day. Displays include a whale hanging in the main hall, and displays of everything from flowers to clothing making. There are five buildings here, try to make at least two.
2) Waimea Valley – For flower lovers everywhere, you need to visit here. On the north west side of the island, this one is about as far from Honolulu as you can get. While Honolulu gets only inches of rainfall, this valley gets feet. Bring a raincoat, umbrella and perhaps a swimsuit to swim in the pool at the top of the valley. You will wander through an amazing amount of Pacific Island flora. There is a wide variety of birds flitting and walking around the grounds. You’ll need hours to get just an overview of the place. The restaurant has an interesting menu, enjoy.
1) Pearl Harbor Historic Sites – Everyone knows about the USS Arizona Memorial. It’s a free tour out to the memorial for which you need to pick up your tickets in advance. If you are not on a guided tour, you should be there early in the morning to be sure of a shuttle time. While you wait for your shuttle you can visit the memorial to submarines, look at old rockets and torpedoes or visit the USS Bowfin, a WWII sub. There is also a new visitors center where you can learn all about the attack on Pearl Harbor. On nearby Ford Island you can visit the USS Missouri where the war with Japan ended.
Well, there you have it, my top ten. This is by no means a complete list of places to visit on the island. I did not include Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church where my daughter acquired her Hawaiian family, or Waikiki beach, where the tourists usually outnumber the locals at all hours of the day. There are any number of commercial enterprises that want to take your money for “once in a lifetime” events. I could have told you about the convention center or the shopping malls or any of a number of parks, the aquarium or the zoo. I did not include such eating places as the north shore shrimp and seafood shacks, the mac nut farm, or the ranch. I could have told you about the highest grossing restaurant in the islands, Duke’s, or the neighborhood BBQ’s where most Hawaiians go for a quick meal. There are hiking trails and climbing areas, mountains and forests, hunting and farming. There is so much more here than Waikiki. I hope you get out and see some of it.
Filed under: Farm Bureau, Hawaii, travel | Tags: american farm bureau federation, beach, beaches, Farm Bureau, hike, Oahu, oahu hawaii, overlook, travel
My recent trip to Honolulu for the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention was my third trip in the last three years. With a daughter living there I have a local tour guide to show me around. Although I have seen some of the usual sights, I’ve also been able to visit some out-of-the-way places too. You see, the locals do not spend their time at Waikiki beach. It is far from the best beach on the island of Oahu, much less the whole state, and yet many come to Hawaii and never see anything more than Waikiki. A beach in Hawaii cannot be owned, it is public property. Even in the most expensive housing areas, openings must be left so that anyone can walk down to the Pacific to surf, fish or sit in the sun. If you have a multi-million dollar home, you will usually have a fence between you and the beach. I’m going to show you a few of the places I visited this last trip, some beaches, some not, some famous, some not, but all Oahu, Hawaii.
First of all you have to realize that Honolulu is squeezed between the mountains and the sea. There is not a lot of place to put the city. It has a good harbor which is what helped the city grow in this place. The Kings of Hawaii had their favorite spot here, but it is now so overfilled that there is no sign of the wonderful beaches that kings and their families once played on.
All of these hotels are built on fill. Even the sand is hauled in, they were bringing in more when I was there. Waikiki is almost all artificial these days. The waves are gentle and the temperatures are great, hotels and marinas crowd the edge of the Pacific.
This is a sight many come to Waikiki for, sundown on the beach, this one is from the terrace of one of the more famous watering holes, Duke’s. The beach was crowded, the music was loud and the wait for a table was about an hour and a half.
The next night we snapped this one from a eatery in the marina area called the Shorelander. Again a beautiful tropical sunset. Fewer people because there was no sand.
Here’s a small neighborhood park that is hard to find. It’s on a dead-end street, there is no parking, it’s difficult to walk to, but it is no less spectacular. Getting to the ocean is not the plan here. Spending time surf side is the reason, and when the waves are right….
The waves this day were mere three footers. It would be interesting to be here when the surf was really up.
Here’s my guide at another out-of-the-way park. There are hiking trailheads all over the place. Most are way back in the neighborhoods with no parking. This popular hiking trail was busy with families and young singles. The views were excellent.
Here’s the beginning of the hike. It’s not very promising is it. It’s steep, it’s rough, and it is not well maintained, but look at what comes once you get above the trees.
Stop and catch your breath, this is the first pillbox, it is not our destination. It’s straight down if you go left, and a long tumble if you go right. This is considered an easy hike by the young ladies who were showing me the path.
Rare flowers can be hiding where you least expect them.
Do you blame these young ladies for making the hike, the view is wonderful, and a breeze takes away the sweat from your hike. It only took about 20 minutes to get here. That’s Lanikai down on the beach, and Kaneohe off in the distance.
Here’s a nice little beach that doesn’t get much traffic. It is a favorite of ours since you access it from Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church.
The view towards the mountains from the beach here is not as well known as the one the other way.
Most of the beaches on the windward (northeast) side have a long ways out to the reef. The area from Chinaman’s Hat to Kaneohe is a large bay that is a local playground.
This picture from the Pali Overlook shows much more open land on the Windward side (north) than you see near Honolulu (south). There are even larger areas of open space on the west side of the island where all of the pineapple and sugarcane fields used to be.
On the right side of the picture you can see the island where they filmed the TV series Gilligan’s Island. It’s easy to walk to the island, not at all a remote place.
There are many more beaches on Oahu than the kiddie pool that is Waikiki. Next time you are in the islands check out a few. Most have a lot more sand and a lot fewer people than Waikiki. Do look for notices of danger spots. There are beaches here that only daredevils use. Stop awhile to appreciate the natural beauty. Ask about local eating spots and seafood shacks. Check out Shave Ice. Perhaps you can even get your Shave Ice at President Obama’s favorite spot. Perhaps one of the locals will show you the real Hawaii that is so near yet so far from Waikiki.
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Animal care, Farm, Farm Bureau, Hawaii, Minnesota, Politics, travel, weather | Tags: Agriculture education, american farm bureau federation, biofuels, Corn, farm, Farm Bureau, farm bureau federation, Food, friends, Hawaii, hawaii convention center, machines, Minnesota, politics
it’s 2012, the time has come again for the American Farm Bureau Federation to meet in Honolulu, and this year I decided to take advantage of the fact. Now I’m not a delegate or an exhibiter so I’m not getting my way paid by anyone, but I am a Farm Bureau Member and I do have a daughter who lives in the Aloha state, so I had at least two reasons to go.
As with any organization there were meetings for the whole group and meeting for special groups, like the Minnesota Breakfast for the about 100 of us from Minnesota, or the County Presidents Luncheon which I attended.
There were also breakout sessions on subjects that members might find interesting like these;
- Food and Farm Facts, Navigating Waves of Change in Advocacy and Agriculture Literacy
- American Farmer: Heart of Our Country
- Election 2012
- 2012 Farm Bill
- It’s Not What You Say, It’s What They Hear
- Business Development
- 2012 Crops Outlook Conference
- 2012 Livestock Outlook Conference
- Asia in the Present and Future of U.S. Agricultural Trade
- Celebrating Differences:How to Capitalize on Diversity in Times of Change
- Protecting your Estate:Essential Questions to ask your Estate Planning Professional
- Operating in and Era of Hyper Regulation
- Farm to Table, Aloha Style
Whew, I only had time to get to three of those, I wanted to go to many more.
All of this was held in the Hawaii Convention Center in Ala Moana neighborhood of Honolulu.
The Hawaii Convention Center is a four level combination of open air spaces and closed meeting rooms with all that the over 6000 farm folks could want, and plenty of space to do it in. The exhibiter area was large, There were multiple areas for breakout sessions and meetings as well as banquets and grab a quick meal areas. Several restaurants were just across the street.
The beauty of Hawaii is that the temperatures are usually good. Closed rooms usually have air conditioning, but all hallways are open to allow the out doors in. Dress code for Farm Bureau conventions is Business Casual, but in Hawaii casual is the Sunday-go-to-meeting-norm, a Hawaiian shirt is dressed up. To Hawaiians we were over dressed.
Inside and out the building was beautiful. Even from the back, everything was designed to welcome. This water wall was hidden away where few conventioneers had to go.
I expect that in about ten years the American Farm Bureau Federation will be back again to visit the Aloha State.
Filed under: house, repairs, travel, wood heat | Tags: electric water heater, hot water, hot water heater, machines, repairs, water, water heater, wood fired boiler
So, here you are, planning a trip out of town and you have a problem with the water heater. If the house was to be empty, no problem, turn it off and deal with it later. Nope, I’m going alone,wife would prefer to have hot water while I’m gone.
Now nothing in our house is simple. It comes from not liking to pay fuel bills. When I hooked up our wood burning boiler to heat the house, I also used that hot water to heat our household water. There are extra things hooked to our heater and I would like to be here to explain when the new water heater is installed. I may not have the chance. I’m already in a time crunch and I have to plan on a water heater being replaced while I’m gone, wonderful.
So here’s the old heater. Notice the dark stain of wet cement on the floor? That’s what gave me the first hint of trouble. The heater is 20 years old so it has had its life. We are on load management with the electric company so they and I can save some electricity in times of high need, we both save money. Because of that I get a big water heater while paying less for a top of the line electric water heater. The electric company can shut the heater off periodically to save during times of peak demand, never long enough to notice if you have a larger, well insulated, tank.
Notice also the white lines on the heater? Those are signs of previous leakage. Not good things to find.
See that yellow tag, it’s wet. It hangs from the electric junction box on the water heater. When I removed the cover from that box I discovered that water was coming out of the heater from around the electric cables. This means I have to replace the heater. I make the plans to replace everything, and hope it all holds together so the plan will never go into effect. If things go wrong, one phone call and my wife gets her hot water back.
Luckily everything held together while I was gone, now I can get things done my way.
While I was gone the new a water heater was delivered. Today I wrestled it into the house and got it out of the box. The next step is going to be interesting. The tank is 30.25 inches wide and the top of my basement stair well 30.25 inches. Yep, tight squeeze. But hey, I’m home and the job will get done. It’s much easier for me and a load off of my wife.
It happens so often, you are headed off on, or just back from a trip, and something goes wrong. So far no problem, so far.