Thursday, August 23, 2007
Frank Lechtenberg (left), a Butte, Nebraska, farmer is a regular visitor to Agriculture Online's Marketing Talk discussion group, finding it a good source of information on the grain markets, and maybe even a source of entertainment from time to time.
In early July, Frank had the idea that it would be good to meet some of the folks who particpate in the discussion group, and posted a message proposing a meeting --somewhere, sometime. "I think everyone of you have something to share, and it would be a little marketing meeting and discussion," he wrote.
More than sixty messages later, the first-ever Marketing Talk Meeting was established.
Frank (frankne) is in Des Moines, Iowa, today talking with folks that he has only known by an online handle--hihowrya, P.O'd Farmer, Captron, Don N Mo, etc.
"I just thought it would be fun to put a face on these names," he said.
Frank's not one of most active posters on the site (and he sure doesn't like his picture taken), but he says he learns a lot by reading what farmers from around the country are saying about crop conditions and marketing strategies.
"I use the site on a daily basis," he says. "It will be good to meet of few of these folks."
It's been good meeting you, Frank. Thanks for the good idea.
Posted by John Walter at 9:17 AM
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Befriending a Simmental cow
A friend of mine, a dairy farmer, was telling me recently about an incident on his place that was still bothering him. He had fired his hired hand (and rehired him later), after he saw the man kicking one his Holsteins. "Don't kick the cows!" he shouted loudly and slowly, ensuring his English would be clearly understood. His employee spoke Spanish and was a good worker and family man, but the moment had gotten away from him, and he was caught in the act of abusing a farm animal.
Telling the story, my friend repeated the line with even greater emphasis: "Don't kick the cows." He sure made me take notice. I know he struggled with his reaction to the whole thing, trying to balance his concern for the cattle with the practical aspects of milking a hundred cows. Anyway, my farmer friend is the kind of man that people should see caring for cattle.
It can be a rough and tumble world on livestock farms, as people in the business know. Handling animals--whether it's for milking, dehorning, birthing, or medicating, takes patience. And sometimes the animals get the best of things. My dairy farmer friend has been gored by a bull and kicked in the knee, among other things, resulting in major injuries. But, if you're involved in animal agriculture, you also expect that producers will shepherd the animals in their care with grace and compassion. I believe most of them do.
A story on Agriculture Online this week, Activists Slowly Shifting US Animal Agriculture Practices, describes how animal rights activists are making headway in influencing public policy on livestock care. In some cases, large meat production companies are responding with changes in their practices, as Smithfield Foods did recently in announcing a phase-out of individual sow gestation crates.
In the story, Temple Grandin, an animal behavior specialist at Colorado State University and expert on humane treatment of farm animals, is quoted as saying that agriculture needs to clean up its own house such that it could showcase its practices to the general public.
"There is no excuse for rotten apples, and the industry needs to speak out against them," Grandin said.
Posted by John Walter at 12:30 PM
Friday, August 3, 2007
Wheat harvest in Ukraine(Photo courtesy Ukrainian Analytical Agency UkrAgroConsult.)
If your roots are in someplace like central Nebraska, like mine are, you might have a sense of what it's like to think about putting wheat back in a crop rotation mix. In places where wheat hasn't been seen much for many years, the crop could be making a comeback, stepping in the middle of the corn vs. soybean fight.
There's been lots of good news for wheat prices lately. Last week, for example, Agriculture Online correspondent Louise Gartner reported on a "huge export sales number," 2.1 MMT, double the trade estimate, and the largest week's worth of sales since 1996. The sale was a "whopper," she said, and signals that buyers are "desperate for immediate needs."
Global conditions for wheat harvest were documented in a photo gallery we put together last week, World wheat snapshots. The images provide some further perspective on why wheat prices are on the rise now and why the crop is expected to compete next season for acres that were once surely destined for corn or soybeans.
Posted by John Walter at 8:18 AM