Thursday, November 15, 2007

Farm Bill ADD...

I haven't been posting much about farm bill action because it seems a little futile. What action there was proved less than first thought, and compared to the markets it was like watching corn dry.

Jim is still faithfully chronicling it, although I notice he is searching for metaphors to keep himself awake.
I accompanied my younger brother and nephew on Wednesday to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I didn't know at the time that observing the sharks would help prepare me for the current version of the farm bill debate.

Some fish swim in groups, and some swim solo. Some fish attack, and others change colors to defend themselves.

There is the stingray who looks regal, can deceive you, and frequently tries to cover its prey before going in for the kill.

And then there is the blow fish, a not so subtle reference to the wind chamber called the Senate.

Plus, here at the Elite Producer Conference in Las Vegas, the farm bill is pretty lame, especially compared to energy. Agriculture could asleep at the switch with all eyes on DCP's while carbon credits and grid access really have the possibility to impact our future.

I'm also suprised the lack of contact between the industrial grain sector and the industrial livestock and dairy folks. The fact that NCGA, for example, didn't have someone here just to listen to one of our largest customers strikes me as a missed opportunity.

As fertilizer costs zoom upward and DDG's pile up around ethanol plants, a little communication with folks who could help solve the problems couldn't hurt. For example, one producer from SD talked about how farmers are paying $40/A to get manure from his dairy. This excited more than a few dairy operators who are paying farmers.

There was much discussion about the ethanol industry, more than a little about impending margin problems and transportation bottlenecks and oil price plummets. Experts have been consistently wrong on this, so I am not convinced about the odds of some of these threats, or that solutions are not evolving to address them.

Gotta catch a plane - more later.

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