April 2, 2007- Constant Challenge of Change

There is a great deal of consistency in the agricultural news headlines thus far in 2007, some samples...”Agriculture will never be the same” - “Big changes ahead for American agriculture” - “Policy changes ahead in the 2007 Farm Bill” - “2007 is a year of major change for America’s farmers.”

The key word is change and the challenge is to embrace and guide it rather than fight it. Those of you involved in production agriculture have the power to lead change, if...if you stay informed and involved. You have proof of that in the battle to make farm-grown energy part of our National Energy Program.

For three decades, corn farmers kept knocking on doors in Washington, D.C. trying to convince legislators to include corn ethanol in the nation’s energy arsenal and it finally happened last year. And with that victory, witness the change that followed. A demand market replaced a supply market; corn prices moved above $4.00 a bushel during harvest last year; more than 100 ethanol plants producing or coming on line, bringing hope and economic recovery to small towns in rural America.

The challenge of change never ends, which means more commitment and involvement on your part as you handle the marketing of your products in a demand market. Then there is the critical action on Capitol Hill...writing a farm bill that will provide economic incentive for producers of food, fiber and energy in the years ahead; shaping immigration policy that will provide needed labor for farmers and ranchers; and improving the quality and delivery of health care in rural America.

Now that we have the planting intentions numbers indicating a 12-million acre increase in corn production this year, I am going to watch with fascination the changes that must occur at harvest time. More acres to harvest will mean more combines to do the job, more workers and more hours to do the work and the need for longer stretches of good harvest weather to get the crop in the bin. But that raises the question...will there be enough bins and storage to handle the increased production or will we see more mountains of corn stored on the ground, and finally, will there be enough trucks and rail cars to move the crop to the ultimate users?

It, indeed, is going to be a fascinating (and challenging) year of change for all of you in production agriculture and I’m glad I have the easy job of just reporting the change and providing you with as much information as possible. I’m confident you will lead change in the right direction for all of us.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.