Farm And Ranch Country Posts


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Have machines replaced humans in driving the economy?  Lots of people are not happy with their economic situation.  What is really driving our economy and how is it affecting agriculture???

Rising prices for lots of basic necessities, but no inflation according to government statistics.

Low pay for lower economic jobs seems to be where all the job growth is.  Bar tenders and waitresses instead of manufacturing jobs. 640px-Vineyards_(1)

Lots of competition for the jobs that are out there.  “Fast food” economy?

Farm and Ranch Implications

Machines are taking over lots of agricultural jobs.  Big is getting bigger, faster, more efficient.

Self driving tractors?

Separation in the value of easy to farm ground versus hard to farm ground?

Grain farming needs less labor than it used to.  Dairy farming is going to robotic milkers.  Now you have grape harvesting machines.

High financial requirements

2 roads ag is going down.  One is big getting bigger and the other is direct marketing, labor intensive, giving a select group of consumers exactly what they want in food production.  Paid just to do it a certain way.

Are large farms bypassing traditional infrastructure in agriculture???  Big issue for agricultural support industries.

Direct marketing farms need a different kind of infrastructure.

GDP growth has not been above 3% during Obama’s entire term, first President to not have at least 1 year of 3% plus growth.  Is this partly because we are switching over to a machine/digital industrial model?????

World is also adding lots of debt to keep growth, but is this wise?  Sometimes it has to go down to go up.  But, politicians are always worried about negative economic growth.

Eventually will the people lose faith in the system?

Trump and Sanders voters as a whole are not happy with the way the establishment is heading the economics of this country.

Since 1980 debt has grown 14 times, but productivity growth has only gone up 6.2 times.  Lower interest rates have allowed us to service this tremendous growth in debt.  Government is really scared of massive deflation.  Wars are generally inflationary.  Pay off current debt with cheaper future money with inflation.  Many say it is easier to start a war than it is to forgive debt’

Maybe what we need is a massive debt forgiveness.  Just cancel all the debt.

Easy money equals asset bubbles.  Land prices are partially a result of no place else to get a return on your money, and a somewhat safe place to keep it.  Negative interest rates will affect the rate of return and the cash rent to land value ratio.

Fewer people control more of the wealth world wide.  Central banks and governments moving the economy not private interests.  Crony capitalism????  Going on worldwide.  Is the Brexit vote a breathe of fresh air.

I then at the end I try to pull this all together and see what this really means for agriculture.  Whether commercial production agriculture or community supported agriculture I think how the economy goes will really impact agriculture. I see several possible end results but in the end it may not end well.


Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 5.15.56 PMSome farm and ranch production agricultural organizations want to give voting rights to non producers.

Lots of big time agvocates do not produce agricultural commodities, but are still huge supporters of commercial production agriculture.

But, should they be given the right to set policy for production agricultural organizations???

Several recent examples that I know of.  Illinois Farm Bureau tried to expand who is eligible to vote and the American Simmental Association had a proposal to allow people who are members, but had not registered cattle in recent years the right to vote.

I am going to explore whether this is good policy or not.

Farm Bureau is not only waning to ensure a state wide organization, but also strong county organizations.  So, the question becomes how much do the large counties subsidize the small counties?  Several arguments for, several against.

Are you a banker or a farmer , farm bureau story from the 1980’s.

What if we need to put pressure on our input suppliers.  Of course lots of farm organizations have other business interests.

Staff needs members, they have to be able to justify an existence.  Critical mass or justifying the empire, however you look at it.

Several solutions, how about having larger operations pay more, fair share???  Not without problems, but NCBA does this now.

Some large operations have several families “living” off one membership.  Charge a per head tax???

Can social media change how farm organizations operate?

Are these organizations for business or social reasons, or both?

Why do you belong?  Because you have to?

Lots of boards have people doing the second or third term on the same board.

I believe we should move on to other leadership positions once our term is up.  Pros and cons for experience, but I would love more farmers on county boards, zoning committees, as a road commissioner, etc., etc.

Sometimes we people in production ag stay within ourselves and do not move up to bigger things.

Maybe we need something like farm and ranch business associated membership.  Lots of things to think about.  Once you give away the vote you will never get it back though.



farm-voteTed Cruz an anti ethanol guy won the Iowa Republican caucus.  I know it is a caucus and not a primary and it is IOWA but wow.

The “Rural Vote” matters but does the Farm and Ranch Policy vote matter?

Their are less and less commercial production agricultural people.  Social Security and Medicade/Medicare are the most important government money transfer programs in most rural counties.

Only in a few very rural, very agricultural states does the farm and ranch policy vote matter.  There are probably 40 Congressional Seats where it matters a bunch and another 40 where it matters some.  So a candidate for congress from an agricultural area better have a good ag policy background, but on a larger scale it does not matter as much anymore.

So does a Presidential Candidate need a big time agricultural coalition???  It is nice but not near as a necessity as it was just 20 years ago.  Rural voters care much more deeply about other issues than ag policy when it comes time to go to the voting booth.

As recently as 2006 the republicans lost control of the House of Representatives because of a refusal to pass a crop and livestock disaster bill.  Which they then allowed to be passed after the election.  Thankfully for them the TEA PARTY roared the republicans back into power in 2010.  Maybe it had more to do with Obama and how he is not really oriented to rural issues at all.  But remember I am talking about the House not a nationwide campaign.

In the 1990’s it mattered what your agricultural policy was.  Now remember I am saying agricultural policy not rural policy issues.  I will get to those later.

The Electoral map has changed.  Used to be a republican could not win the presidency if they did not win Illinois.  Not now.  Illinois has not voted republican since 1984.  Iowa has voted for a democrat since 1984, except for 2004.  So, your 2 big corn producers 2 of the 3 “I” states have voted democrat from 1984 until now except for Iowa in 2004.  From 1968 until 1984 they went reliably republican.  And, we are talking about 2 of the states most heavily dependent on farm program payments. 

In the 1990’s it mattered.  Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton were fighting over control of the House and Senate and they went at it in many rural areas.  Areas in the old south that used to vote conservative democrat switched to conservative republican.

So for a Presidential election the battleground states have changed and they have went away from many traditional agricultural policy big money receiving states.   Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina are the big ones now.  Also Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin, and yes maybe Iowa.  But most ag states will be won on lower taxes, less and I mean less regulation.  Can you say no WOTUS and repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Remember some really big ag states are firmly in the democrat tank.  No need to waste time and energy on ag policy for Minnesota or Illinois.  Rural voters in let’s say Springfield, Missouri are probably wound up on lots of other conservative issues rather than agricultural policy.

Agricultural Groups are going away from rural people.  I know really a bold statement.  Lately they have been hiring lots of ex democratic staffers as commodity and farm group organization staff.  The groups want “access” to the democratic lawmakers.  I sometimes wonder what good it will do.  You may get to meet with them but will it really get you anything in the end???  Maybe I also think you risk upsetting longtime relationships with conservative members.  But, they figure 2 things I think.  One, the conservatives naturally support lots of issues the ag groups do, and the members of the ag groups are the people who vote and live in the conservative members districts.  And two,  none of the ag groups members live in many of the democrat members districts so we have to hire somebody to get in the door with them.

Democrat farmers tend to be a lot more involved in farm organizations than many republican farmers are.  I just like to keep track of stuff and I try and pick up on hints  and how people lean.  I also have the advantage of being publicly out on the right side and I often get little comments directed my way.  So my observation.  Membership in farm organizations is about 80-20 republican over democrat, but those heavily involved is about 60-40 republican over democrat, but when you get to top leadership it is more 50-50.  And, from comments by staff especially retired staff posted on social media, staff is much more liberal than membership. Staff is important they really run things.

Many big agricultural organizations also have big time business interests that they have to protect.

And, I like this example.  There are at least two Illinois counties that have no organized democrat political organization, none.  No elected democrat precinct committee person, so that means no county organization. None, nothing, nada, and now I ask do the county organizations for agriculture really need to worry about that side of the isle???  It is all becoming big city, big suburbs on one side of the isle and I see it continuing that way.  Less rural representation because we are losing population, but what is left is becoming more conservative.  The old Roosevelt democrats are dying off in rural America.

In the end ag policy does not matter in national politics as much as it once did because of numbers.  Do the math.

Rural Issues that matter to rural voters, not in any particular order, just stuff that matters to voters.


Private Property Rights

Social Issues, the conservative ones

Health Care Costs

Self – employed business issues

Rules and over regulations

Military Strength

Veteran Issues

America First

Foreign Entanglements


Then maybe Agricultural Policy



The revised edition: In other words the correct episode posted.

I have been asked to speak at a young farmer meeting this summer and after outlining it, I said hey I should do tfarm podcasthis as a podcast. So here goes.

Social media for farmers. Whether it is our age or whatever as an industry agriculture, especially production ag has been slow to adopt social media. I will discuss how my wife started, how it evolved, and how I got to where I am today. I also look out to the future and see what that could look like.

The Internet has changed farming and ranching, so has mobile devices. Where does this lead to next.

The future of government farm programs. Have we seen the future and is it the 1970’s???

So do we have a total payment limit including crop insurance subsidies? In the 1980’s they needed to save rural banking. From 1992 until 2006 republicans and democrats were fighting over rural congressional seats. Clinton vs. Gingrich

Obama and progressive democrats have pretty much put the end to rural democrats.

Rural women rock, they as a whole are very conservative.

Social security along with Medicare and Medicade are more important than farm program payments.

Hard to justify $$$ to a bunch of rich white guys, well balance sheet rich.

So what would the limit be, probably lot less then we have now.

These United States and lots of states and cities are broke. Money is probably going away.

Trade, what a loaded question from one year ago. Lots of ag groups pushing real hard, but I think we maybe hurting ourselves in the future. Time to lay in the weeds and let this all play out. We can always push it through in a lame duck session if one has too.

I for one would give Mr. Trump a try to see if he can get us a better deal.

I touch on how I got involved with the Trump campaign. Let’s just say this is not my first rodeo.

Lastly I give some advice to young farmers. It was the, who asked me to speak. I give them 5 points to ponder.

This podcast can be listened to in 5 sections. I covered 5 areas so you can break this up how you want.

To the smartest people in agriculture, thanks for listening.


“Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face”  Mike TysonMike Tyson

Stock Market real high

Britain votes whether to leave the European Union on June 23rd.

Europe has lots of problems.

U.S. will have a new President in November.

Last jobs report was bad.  States and cities are going broke.

Germany has big elections coming up next year.

If Britain votes to leave Europe does that mean the U. S. will elect Trump in November.  Some believe so.  People all over the world are not happy with the status quo.

A Trump win in November probably is very good for main street not so good for Wall street.

Hillary is not without her troubles.  She may have to pick Elizabeth Warren as her running mate just to placate the progressive Bernie voters.

Migration fatigue and Nationalism are running rampant in Europe.  Will Germany leave the EU ?????

U.S. economy back to where it was in the late 1970’s ????????

Lowest labor participation rate since 1977.  62.6%

U.S. stocks often tumble as two-term presidents leave office.

I discuss China problems, Mexico problems, exporter countries have problems, oil countries, South American socialists problems, Southern European countries problems.

Not a good outlook, so how was the 2016 recession for you???????

I don’t know, we may not have one, but it looks more and more likely.