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31 Aug 2012 - Best Part of My Job is You

When people ask me what I like best about my job as a farm broadcaster and writer, I've had the same answer for decades...people! That's you, listeners and readers, who take the time to share with me your thoughts and interests. I mention that this week because at the Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, many of you shared your concerns and that guides me in what I write and broadcast, so I share some of those conversations with all of you.

I was especially pleased at the number of people who thanked me for my effort to educate people on the ethanol issue and help people understand that when we take the ethanol out of a bushel of corn, we still get a lot more product from that bushel. That changes the popular urban concept that 40% of our corn crop goes to fuel, when in reality, it is about 28%. They said I should keep telling that story and my response was "I need your help. Take every opportunity at the coffee shop or coffee hour at Sunday church services to acquaint your friends and relatives with the facts, instead of the myths spread by urban media." A couple of farmers said even they didn't know those ethanol facts.

Drought, of course, was the main topic of my farmer conversations and the theme I heard most often was the variation in yields from one county to the next, from one field to the next, and even closer than that. One farmer said he was amazed at the yield difference from one end of the field to the other with his yield monitor showing 30 bushels as he started down the corn row, then 120, 85, and 65 bushels when he reached the end of the row. Having flown Air Orion from Chicago to Boone all three days of the show, I can say it was alarming for me to see as much brown and yellow in the fields below me, more than I have ever seen at this time of the year.

The farm bill was mentioned, but not as often as concern about the estate tax, which every farmer who brought up the subject, called the "death tax". The thought of the law going back to a one-million dollar exemption and a 55% tax rate on anything over that amount is a major concern, especially for those parents trying to plan for the transfer of the farm to their heirs. One farmer said, "I've paid taxes on this farm all my life and it's just not fair that my kids have to pay any tax when I'm gone!" I couldn't agree more and I urged him and everyone else to tell their members of Congress to take action before December 31st.

Finally, I was really pleased at the number of people who asked for a pre-order form for my first and only book "You Can't Dream Big Enough" due for publication November 1st. I'm excited about the book that I have talked about writing for 10 years and it's finally happening because my wife Gloria and my colleague Max Armstrong sat me down earlier this year and said "Quit talking about it and get it done!" It's challenging, but fun, as it takes me down memory lane in my 60-years of agricultural communications. Thanks for talking, sharing and listening!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.