A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast on what's being called the "New Midwestern Farm Crisis." Program begins with reports on farming issues, including insurance, scab plant disease, and government program, global markets, and Freedom to Farm Act. Followed with a discussion with Wally Sparby, Director of the Farm Service Agency. Sparby also answers listener questions.
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Hey, good morning. This is midday from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm sure way finale in this week for Gary. Eichten. The time now is 6 minutes past 11 all this week on Minnesota Public Radio. We are looking at what some call the new Midwestern farm crisis despite almost perfect growing conditions many farmers faced a natural hard times because of changing regulation and economic conditions today on midday. If we're going to present a series of Main Street radio reports on the farm conditions this year and later on of the hour will be joined here in the studio by Wally sparby director of the federal Farm Service Agency, but that we begin this hour with a report on us agriculture. Secretary Dan Glickman visit to Minnesota and North Dakota Monday offering emotional support and announcing changes to farm programs in hopes of helping struggling upper Midwestern Farmers Glickman visited individual Farms, then spoke to mm farmers at a forum Minnesota public radio's. Hope Deutscher reports.As about a dozen reporters and Congressional delegates tag along East Grand Forks Farmer. John Driscoll told secretary Glickman farmers are suffering. There's been years of bad weather low prices and a succession of blighted crops. He showed Glickman this year's wheat healthy so far, but Driscoll says weather and disease could still destroy his field if you were to get scab what it would have come we get real humid weather about the time. It's flowering and it's about three weeks away from blowing right now and the scab moves around in the atmosphere on the air and it'll just take over this field trip to announce. The US Department of Agriculture is putting an extra $200,000 into scab research this year. And the last Congress to increase cab research funding next year to almost 2 million dollars. He kind of missed a since 1993 scab is cause more than 2.5 billion dollars in Damages.North Dakota alone last year scabs spoiled much of driskill's crop and the third that was left was poor quality. Driscoll says worst yet the federal crop insurance. He purchased didn't cover his losses or guarantees from the from the losses in the past. I've driven our heels down. So low that we we we didn't trigger any funds from our federal crop because our heels are so low many. How did it get just didn't affect it from disaster Aid ended in 1994 and crop insurance was expanded for crop insurance is based on previous crops farmers who have had several years of crop failure get Little Help from the program several hundred Farmers gather that forms in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks Monday sharing their fears frustrations and solutions with us agriculture. Secretary. Quickman says his department will begin addressing the fire.What concerns immediately this week will go back and again will examine and re-examine the administrative actions on crop insurance and other program issues the message of this meeting needs to go directly to the president as well. And I will take it to him next year. Glickman says the agriculture department will start a pilot project provide insurance for alternative crops such as mustard and crampy and oilseed and Glickman says he will work on increasing wheat prices currently around $3 a bushel, but that news comes too late for some more than 2500 North Dakota Farmers have quit in the past two years and farm Economist estimated another 1800 will quit if low grain yields and prices continue a week ago Sharon and Kurt the rain auctioned off their Farm Sharon warrants our neighbors and Glickman. It's not easy to get out of farming. She says capital gain taxes are draining everything away for 50 years old and we're going to be such.Decks for the rest of our lives and all our Equity out of this 111 year Farm 3 generation is gone. You guys got to figure out cuz there's going to be a lot of quitting you got to help us get out Glickman encouraged Farmers to continue working while he tries to incorporate long-term Solutions and there are no magic answers to the problems. I wish there were believe you me. I would love to snap my fingers and double to Triple the price of Fleet overnight and but I think we can do some things with administrative Lee as well as legislatively to help producers cope during these very very difficult times stated his desire to change the 1996 farm at the so-called freedom to farm which released Farmers from government production quotas, but also remove federal price supports while they acted working well in most parts of the country the combination of blight and lowest prices has hit upper Midwestern Farmers hard with my degrees.The farmers it could be considered the freedom to failure act for some Farmers. However, Glickman says supporters for such change have little support in Washington hundreds of Acres of Farmland in North Dakota are flooded Glickman says ranchers suffering losses because of flooded pasture will receive some of the 12 million dollars left over in the livestock disaster Reserve fund and Glickman says, he's increasing the X for credit guarantees to Turkey by 100 million dollars making it easier for turkey to buy American wheat and hopefully bumping up the price of grain. I'm hope torture Minnesota Public Radio. This spring has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Minnesota Farmers. The weather has been almost perfect crops were planted so early the old rhyme knee high by the 4th of July could be a huge understatement, but the good news from the fields is not matched at the marketplace the price Farmers receive for their corn soybeans and we are low and headed lower American farmers are producing more than this nation.Or the world can use the problems come as a historic change in the federal government's role in agriculture is about to take place two years ago Congress passed Landmark legislation known as freedom to farm. It will end most federal Farm support payments after the year 2002 with the current downturn Farmers. Wonder if The Disappearance of the federal safety net will cause a wave of farm consolidations in bankruptcies during the next decade Main Street radio. SmartStyle reports on concerns raised by freedom to farm. Some Farmers say a full-blown crisis like they went through in the mid-1980s is eminent others believe it's only a moderate downturn part of a cycle all segments of the economy go through Brian runs, no farms near Butterfield in southwest Minnesota. The farm economy is isPretty dismal right now with the current prices of a book corn and soybeans. He blames the 1996 Farm Bill known as freedom to farm for the gloomy indicators. I don't have a very Rosy picture of me in the future. If this is kind of the president's romsdahl Belize freedom to farm has launched the agricultural economy on a damaging cycle of overproduction by eventually ending government payments and leaving Farmers on their own the legislation forces Farmers, not the government to decide how much grain they grow that may sound like a no-brainer, but for more than sixty years until freedom to farm past the government was involved in deciding how much grain a farmer produced runs don't says the system wasn't perfect but it held down production when elevators overflowed with grain helping prop up prices. He says left on their own farmers will do what comes naturally grow as much as they can.When you have bumper crops, well it if it truly is a supply-and-demand market and you're supplying more than what the demand is its Financial suicide call it that or call it free enterprise with all the risks that system contains Southwest Minnesota farmer. David roles has freedom to farm may be painful but its necessary. There's an argument that we don't we don't subsidize the hardware store owner or the small manufacturer. Why should we subsidize the person involved in production agriculture, but roll also sees gloomy days ahead. He says a race is underway as Farmers position themselves for the end of federal payments in 2002 to make up that lost income and pay the rising cost of fertilizer machinery and Seed Rose has most Farmers have come to the same conclusion. They know that they're going to have to farm more acres to spread that those tremendous production expenses.Over more Acres though the Machinery costs, especially he says that scenario will hit small farmers hardest since they are less able to assume the debt required to buy land those who adapt to the change the best will be farming in those of us who don't won't be for me with almost all major Farm Commodities in a price tailspin roses this year, maybe a preview of the future with no government controls over production could be a recurring problem. That assumes of course that government actually gets out of farming nothing is ever locked into place when it comes to Congress and especially Agriculture University of Minnesota Professor C. Ford Runge Runge says, it's implausible even laughable to believe government will stay the course and and most payments to Farmers after 2002. He says our Congressional system almost guarantees Federal involvement. The fact is that if you have a substantial number of farmers in your congressional district, you see it properly is your job to respond to their concerns to suggest that they would have nothing to do in these areas simply goes against the nature of the political Beast. Ronnie says while it's true Farm state representatives make up a small part of Congress. They in the farm interests who Lobby them are well-organized farmers. In fact have won several major victories recently including the extension of the ethanol credit. Runge says the economic rumbles just starting in farm country will be heard in Congress. Now that the prospect of weaker prices and some additional weakness in the export markets is evidence that the Congress will be forced to Think Through what sort of safety net they can devise but that kind of discussion has only been behind the scenes and nothing has been brought forward of a substantial sort that I know of to date a major consideration Congress must consider is the importance of farm exports right now and economic downturn in Asia is causing big problems for us agriculture as Farmers work their fields in the midwest their Market is the world much of it beyond the reach of the freedom to Farm Act. This is Mark Style Main Street. Radio. We continue our series of Main Street radio reports on the Midwest Farm conditions this year by hearing from Minnesota Public Radio scare a headland who reports now that local farmers are selling to a global market. We're outside pressure such as the Asian and Russian financial crisis can have an impact on how they Farm Department of Agriculture swiping crop this year. This will be the second record breaker in a row prices though could sink to the lowest level in a decade and soybean exports are also declining South Dakota State University Aggies Economist. Everett vandersluis. Does the United States exports a third of this way beans it grows. He says Farmers now have the flexibility to plant in order to meet export demand. And that's why prices are falling a large part of the export of the export for soybeans is is going to be determined by Southeast Asian countries, I think and letting them How can countries as well as the Middle Eastern countries incomes in those countries will drive us soybean exports vandersluis says as more people move into the middle class the demand for meat will increase and so will the demand for soybeans the base for soy Meal which is a protein feed for cattle in poultry. And I think that the United States the USDA is expecting that it's going to increase dramatically, but it's still a bit of a question because it depends very much what China's going to do with respect to its membership are pending membership in the World Trade Organization and roll to the local soybean producer working on a global scale is relatively new to Farmers 30 years ago Farmers would watch the local weather patterns call the grain elevator in the nearest town for the latest. Price and then decide whether or not to sell that really doesn't move that much anymore tip of South America doesn't get a crop or if Africa doesn't get corn when it comes to the global market Farmers like Casper like the flexibility in the freedom to farm legislation. In order to meet demand Casper says, there's also more opportunity for Farmers to Market Commodities, true value added processing like Milling the Grain and crushing the soybeans themselves to increase the value of the rock Commodities this or being processing plant near Volga South Dakota Crush has a million bushels of soybeans in 3 weeks. The meal goes to the livestock industry in The Dakotas in Minnesota. And the oil goes for further processing Casper is also the president of the South Dakota soybean processors. He says farmers can now compete with the larger companies and remove the middleman when selling your product customer says, this is a better way to Diversified and adding new crops or livestock. He says the fear for Farmers is missing out on value-added opportunities and exporting raw material. I can become the process or be the middleman of what I produce and I want you to have funding available to help me start up companies like this opportunity for us Farmers Market specialist. Allen mesa's Asian countries were labor costs are lower also want to build processing plant, but he says the United States can get a jump start now while he's a recovers financially over the next two years Mesa Farmers need to become better at risk management and it's going to take a different kind of farmer to compete globally. I think they have to be prepared to do some things in terms of forward pricing are they have to look at that establishing prices. They know they can least break even and see if the market offers that I think they have to look at. All the longer-term picture of a being able to adjust quickly and rapidly when when they see when they see changes coming they had locked in a price two weeks ago at $6 a bushel by Harvest if weather conditions continue to be favorable prices are projected at $5 a bushel for soybeans bigger companies, like Minnesota bass Cargill are working with farmers and local extension agents to lay out more options Cargill. Spokesman. Rob Johnson says over the next 10 years farmers will be able to diversify in many directions. He seems larger Farms more Cooperative processing plants and more Niche crops to serve Specialty Products for feed and oil markets a year ago. Cargill caused a farmer uproar by importing soybeans Johnson says that was an instance where poultry growers in the southeastern United States needed soy meal at a time when stockpiles were not high in the US. prices were lower in Brazil cars server not serve that to man. But our decision not to serve it will not make the demand go away. It will still be there in someone else will serve it. So it is a business but it is a business that is driven by Growers and producers in this case producers of poultry in the southeastern United States farmer say they are now competing against big companies foreign markets politics and cheap labor. But in their favor is new technology helping to produce more bushels per acre and a farm or land affordable Transportation also helps the u.s. Farmer the desire Express by many Midwestern Farmers is to have a Level Playing Field. So all Farmers worldwide can't compete fairly Farm Paul Kasper says there needs to be a fast track train association's free trade and consistent standards in order for Farmers to survive their you able to use in other countries. And they're cheaper chemical and we import that product not to me. That doesn't make any sense if it's not good enough for the American Farmer to use. And be processed or consumed here. How come we have it imported into United States and then it gives them an OP mean we're talking Level Playing Field. He gives them away better chance of surviving buy their product and it's it's chemicals at weaved. And here is as a new generation of farmers emerge. He says many older farmers will sell out in the next few years and the new farmer will be linked to the internet and will far more land than ever before in Sioux Falls on Kara. Hetland Minnesota Public Radio has a farm policy written by Congress every 5 years supporters of the 1995 Farm Bill say it opens a global Marketplace more in tune with supply and demand opponents. Say the 95 Farm Bill marked a critical destructive change in foreign policy. But what is the underlying philosophy that shaped Congressional a We get that story from Main Street radios. Dan Gunderson at its heart agricultural policy is about maintaining the food supply in the US the emphasis has long been on keeping that Supply cheap for Consumer. It's something off and lost in the debate over yields and subsidies and using cyberspace to run the farm. Well, I got a letter yesterday. The dish East another quarter of an inch or something maybe satellite went down again today Computer Connection to the grain markets isn't working. He says it doesn't much matter. The way prices are Nordic raises wheat corn and soybeans on 1200 Acres near Rothesay. He says the idea of competing on the World Market is fine, but it's not realistic because his European counterparts are guaranteed income so they can afford to sell at lower prices. And I or my neighbor or the US produce or compete against that. Thick hair as past president of the Minnesota Wheat Growers Nordic spent time lobbying on trade agreements and the farm bill. He says us farmers were sold out and trade negotiations in exchange for good deals for American electronic and Automotive Industries Nordic scoffs at those who say open markets make economic sense and low farm prices benefit consumers by keeping food prices down. He says food packaging cost far more than the raw product in the package bottom-line economics. Are you get seventy two loaves of bread out of a bushel of wheat and you could just about double the price of weed and it would have very little change on the price of a loaf of bread. So I think that's all hogwash. Most American consumers may not draw a relation between the price farmers get and the cost of their grocery bill. In fact, Ronald Knutson says consumers just don't care Knutson director of Economics at Texas A&M University says that makes it hard for Farmers to get support for hire prices a nuisance as Europeans pay more for food because they're farmers are heavily Subs. He says us consumers don't care if farmers are making a profit as long as food prices. Stay relatively low. look USA They Don't Really Care where weather the week comes from Canada or from the United States what they're interested in is the price of the bread Farm as Bob Bergland says if the current Trend continues consumers will take notice Berglund says if a few large corporations control agriculture, they'll also control food prices Berglund was us secretary of agriculture in the Carter Administration he says many countries in Europe and elsewhere have a policy of supporting Farmers to ensure a stable food supply he says the US did have the same policy but has now with the freedom to Farm Act made a significant shift basing agriculture policy on bottom line economics Market policy with regard to social consequences Why argue argue that you can't develop economic policies in the vacuum, you can't just say It's in everybody's best interest to have a pure Market discipline and didn't and ignore the losers. Those who favor current foreign policy say there will always be winners and losers that's economic reality Minnesota Republican. Senator Rod. Graham says, it may increase the pressure on Farmers, but will help those who survive in all you got to learn to to be as efficient the best management you can and a very competitive market but I think if we can develop as we tried to do with NAFTA and GATT to open these markets to give Farmers the opportunity to have more places to sell their crops. I think in that area we're going to help Drive the Market's up and not down North Dakota Democratic. Senator Byron dorgan says that's fine in theory. But he says in a World Market us companies go where the cheapest grain is that often means buying subsidized foreign grain, which drives us markets down. Jordan says there may be an underlying philosophy of maintaining an affordable food supply but he thinks current foreign policy is driven by greed. Characters of the big economic interest or preying on the car Gilbert at Giant Eagle Factory are corporate Farms from the entire state or from America from California to Maine. What's the difference? Cargill spokesman says the company has no desire to control markets and needs farmers and consumers to be successful senator dorgan says there's a fundamental but little debated question at the heart of the farm policy. Does America want to ensure the future of Family Farms? You know what? The cities are crowded we have open space and good neighbors and realize this isn't rocket science while we care for family farmers and then whatever very bright country and I think this country is better than that. I think we ought to be able to sit down and figure out a way to give family Farmers a chance to make a living as long as food prices are comparatively cheap. Farmer. Jerry Nordic says Americans have it too good. They don't see the value of a stable food supply because grocery shelves have always been full and maybe the sooner that happens. Maybe the sooner that the wake-up call will come already says he doesn't have the answers to farm policy. He only knows if he doesn't make a profit he'll soon be out of business. I'm Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio series of a Main Street radio reports on Farm conditions in the Upper Midwest this spring we are going to take just a very short break and Will return with rstudio guest Wally's Party of the federal Farm Service Agency to take your questions and comments about the current state of agriculture in the region similar questions and comments are raised in the series of reports from our Main Street radio unit. So stay with us. They just a few weeks remain in Minnesota public radio's fiscal year and we are counting on you to help us reach your goal of 85,000 members leave Amanda Ms. Building, but we still need 8300 listeners to become new members or renew your membership. Remember members are our single largest source of Revenue. Please call us now at 1 800-227-2811 and thank you very much. This reminder coming up at noon today as part of our mid-day broadcast. We going to live to downtown Minneapolis. The Minnesota meeting today's guest is Minnesota native. Norman Ornstein. Corsi is the resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. I'll certainly one of this country's best known as And most respected political analysts are his Minnesota meeting speech today is titled getting big money out of us politics. What we can do now Norman Ornstein resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute live at the Minnesota meeting shortly after noon today. You're on Minnesota Public Radio. So stay with us the weather forecast for the most part dreary today Cloudy Skies across the South a few showers and drizzle today some fog and places for the most it cloudy skies in the North Ohio today only a50s near Lake Superior eylure 70s in Thief River Falls in the Fargo-Moorhead area today and I generally right around 60° in parts of southern Minnesota tonight variable clouds a slight chance of a thunderstorm in the far Southwest after midnight Louis from the lower 40s to lower 50s tomorrow should be partly cloudy with a chance of afternoon showers may be some thunderstorms highest tomorrow middle sixties in the arrowhead. And the middle 70s in parts of Western Minnesota right now in Duluth. It's partly sunny in 55 the warm spot International Falls for the temperature is 60 for the cool spot in the region is Rochester where the temperature is fifty-two how the Twin Cities well also 52° some drizzle now and looks like for the rest of today should be cloudy little drizzle or maybe a few sprinkles of high temperature in the lower 60s tomorrow should be partly cloudy little bit nicer and a high in the low to mid 70s. He does now 27 minutes before 12 noon. This is midday eye Minnesota Public Radio. Eichten enjoying some time away this week. I'm very familiar. Thanks for joining this we are looking at the poet some have called the new Midwestern farm crisis and I in the last half-hour but we presented a series of reports on that current situation the state of Agriculture and for the next 20 minutes or so. We're going to talk with Wally sparby of the federal Farm Service Agency. He is a farmer small grains Farm. Northwestern Minnesota of former State lawmaker representing Northwestern Minnesota misses Barbie. Thanks for coming in today. Thank you. Very good to be here and we have a phone number couple of phone numbers. Actually after those of you who would like to chime in with your questions or comments and some of the issues raised by today's reports. I'll hear the Twin Cities. The number is 227-6002 276 thousand the Twin Cities number outside the metro area that toll free number is one 802-422-8281 800-242-2828. We just read the weather forecast and a while ago about the fact that this really has been an almost ideal growing year and I'm wondering if there has ever been an ideal growing near the state of Minnesota and prices have been decent. Is that possible or is that a pipe dream Inn in agriculture? Well, I think there have been some that have been closed. Are there seems to be a problem somewhere in the nation or in the state at a given time in any given year in 1992? They had a very good crop up and Red River Valley. That was a neck but we crop that ear the weather was good harvest was good deals for good from that time on we've had all kinds of problems with weather and disease on the scab has been a very serious problem that deal with intercourse last year. We had that serious flooding situation and that of course on head after effects such as more crappie season so forth so there Ben varying degrees of good weather now, we're running into it now. I think I just heard today is the coldest June on record so far in last month probably the warmest one is it simply a case that there are so few years were the weather is good enough for Farmers to produce enough crops and get a decent priced vet agriculture is in a situation where it needs some kind of safety net or some kind of farm program from the I meant well, you know, I don't say this because I work for the government to I think it's really important that there be some type of a safety net and we hear that time and time again, they they like the freedom the farm opportunities where they have the opportunity to plant what they can know that the freedom to Farm Act. I don't think they like that per se because there's a lot of problems with the act itself as we listen to the people out there in the countryside, but they like to have that flexibility in their their cropping patterns and so forth and we've always had the problems with whether we always will have so you have your crop varieties that are developed around that and in most cases we end up with a pretty decent craft the year in and year out. What are some of the specific problems with the freedom to farm hit me. It sounds like it makes makes some sense. Let the market rule what what what's the biggest problem just the total variable or a couple of things? Keep coming to the surface and number one is that safety-net thing? They really feel that they loan rates should have been higher as an example and that the are there was a formula in place prior to 1996 when the Act was put into place where to buy it was kind of like a cost-of-living adjustment on the that went with the the cost of production in the marketing rates. And if that were the case today the loan rate on wait to be 60 cents a bushel higher than it is right now which certainly would be of help it's not the total answer but it's a it's a big help and it's a safety net factor. And the other thing is though the crop insurance program isn't working like most people would like it to work. All the coverage isn't high enough. The cost is too high and so on so forth. So those are a couple things that are things that need to be fixed in could be repaired probably in some future legislation. You mention crop insurance and I think a lot of people are kind of wonder How disaster payments work, I think the government's now saying that we're no longer going to to make disaster payments going to have to rely on crop insurance. But I mean as a practical matter, is that is that is that real? I mean the can the can that work? I think someday in the future. There's going to be some changes in the program that self in the Congress will ultimately make that decision but some months ago former secretary of agriculture robots was in town here speaking in at that engagement. He said that if you think there aren't going to be farm programs in front of payments in the future you believe in the Tooth Fairy 2 and he's probably right is that it's a commodity the money that's involved in the program was kind of a commodity just like rain, that's what he was saying that then he's been around longer and I have and I have a lot more knowledge about the program activities than I do, but We we need to look at the overall picture in the the food cost that we have in this country. Probably or second to none. We have the Apple food supply and we had a very reasonable cost and when we look at that there has to be some Fair reimbursement for the farmers that are involved in that growing and I don't think they're all looking to become my rich folks. They're just looking to make a good living out there and be able to pay their family bills and I have something left over at the end of the year like a lot of other folks doing that's basically basically the thing that you hear out there all the time and talking about the disaster agent know back in 1993 when we had the big float down here in Minnesota River Valley and very very serious when we had a disaster program in place at that time, and we paid out about 750 million dollars that here in the state of Minnesota and losses said that were sustained by farmers and it certainly was something to help keep those people out there on the landing. That's basically why were looking at You don't have it every year, but you need it there. We're talking today about the current state of agriculture in Minnesota some of the issues surrounding agriculture. If you like to join the conversation the number in the Twin Cities is227 6000 to 276 thousand. We have a toll free number is well outside the metro area, and that number is 1 800-242-2828. 1 800-242-2828. I let steak to call. Let's go to John in Bemidji. Good morning John for the program. I guess I've got the Something to say about the conservation Reserve program and the conservation Reserve program seem to be a very valuable thing for the side the land helping prevent erosion. I really boosted up the Pheasant Wildlife populations for a short-term. But unfortunately, it was here today and seems to be gone tomorrow. I wouldn't that money have been better spent. Purchasing land and when we talked about the flood problems in the Red River Valley when it would have been better spent buying buying up wetlands and stream bank. So that sort of thing where it would have been a permanent situation to do a long-term problem or I think we should probably mention really with the conservation Reserve program is again, so people not familiar with that. The conservation Reserve program is a land retirement program or they take online O2 production for a. Of 10 years and it can be up to 15 years if there are trees planted on the acreage. And that is set aside and they are given a payment based on a breaker rental rate to the average rental rate of the county for that. Time and they have to keep a vegetative cover on that and maintain that during that period time. We also out what he's talking about is a a permanent easement type of a program which we have in the conservation Reserve. Conservation Reserve enhancement program for the Minnesota River Valley and we have what's it called the prep program down there and some of that may have permanent easements on it. But those Acres have to be eligible for enrollment in the conservation Reserve program and then they can go into the conservation Reserve enhancement program, which is a program administered by the state of Minnesota are there has been a reluctance on the part of a lot of farmers to going to permit an easement. However, maybe this is going to work better than others have in the past but they're looking at 2 anywhere from 20 or easements on up to a permanent forever. So we'll see how that works out. But we have a lot of interest in the buffer initiative this going on alongside the stream Banks and the the drainage systems right now. In fact yellow medicine County on West Central Minnesota has the largest number of contracts in that program of any County in the country. So it's been going over for a while and now has AR buffer areas of riparian areas along the streams and a drainage areas that can be anywhere from hundred 250 ft. We got some that an excessive that that we've been doing in the past and now I got a new rule this come out where we says that we can't exceed 150 ft 2 with but that's kind of in a debate stage right now and we'll see how that all works out this year. The Clue the focus in the Upper Midwest is in the Red River Valley the flood last year. There's a disease at some kind of a scab going around this year and asked secretary. Dan Glickman was in the region yesterday's we heard a few moments ago. He came with the with some remedies some suggestions for up to make things better up there. Do you have some sense of Whether they will work or what. What do you think of what he is what he told the farmers there would be very helpful. The one of those was removed from the loan rates increasing the loan rates of trying to improve the federal crop insurance program. And then he said they were expending more money and they providing money is for people like in Turkey to buy more week and we've done that southeast Asia when fat food got over 2 billion dollars and then allocated to those countries for the purchase of grain from the United States and that's allocated so much for weed so much for corn so much. You're so ugly and so on and so forth. I think those things are all helpful, but he can't do those things like they changing of the loan rates the removal of the formula or anything like that that all has to be enacted by Congress Congress has indicated what they think about his ideas or Well, if this point is far as I know Center Luger who is the chairman of the committee in the Senate has indicated that he's not interested in doing that it at the present time. However, May 2nd or any Administration may very well bring that forward and ask for a hearing on that and let's see what happens. I'm sure it's not going to happen next week or the week after but likely they might act and work on it sometime this year. I guess today is Wally's Party of the federal Farm Service Agency. We have about 10 minutes left. So if you want to give us a call it a question or comment feel free to call. The toll-free number is one 800-242-2828 in the Twin Cities to 276 thousand Rodney in Woodbury. Go ahead is going to prove that a label for USB and to stop the blending of beef in America. I know that most of the producers in Minnesota or against blending of foreign. Imports and yet secretary Glickman has had this in front of them for about four years and hasn't responded to us. Can you answer why? Well, that's a little bit out of my area. But I know that question was asked of him and South Dakota when I attended that meeting out there and if I recall his response is that they were working on that and I know that's not an answer for you, but that they were to have a response back on that within a few weeks. So they had gone through some process with that Rodney and I really can't give you a timeline on it. But as far as I know he was definitely ask that same question in this in South Dakota to Aberdeen. One of the reports we heard focused on global markets for Minnesota farm products. And first of all, if you could just give us some perspective on the global market for Minnesota from products, you know, where does lot of it Go and I'm I'm kind of curious whether if it all has changed since the 80s the last time we were talking about it a crisis and agriculture in Minnesota. Where are Global Marketing. Is that work very well. In fact, we're selling a lot more green overseas now than we ever have its expanded immensely. We've got that little glitches right now. We're in the southeast Asia. We're having some problems there, but they pump some money into that to provide some opportunities for that markets come back. However with global Global Marketing like it's been we also got to remember that a lot of the other countries have had some fantastic crops as well. And that's like Argentina and Canada is a part of that Marketing System and There's a lot of competition there and that's what we're faced with. And now we've got a we got a big week crap coming again this year. They're harvesting down in Oklahoma right now and it's going quite well as I understand and I probably in a week or two wheeled into Kansas doing the Harvest there. So, you know, we were learning more or technology is getting better and we're raising a more grain with this freedom to Farm Act. Of course, there's more acres is involved in though. That's kind of probably offsetting a lot of that marketability out there. Is it any sense that prices will improve or not a man is supposed to looks like the weather's been good in so many places. It's it's probably not but is there any some kind of trend that all this Racine as far as a grain prices that we see for this year? It's not good. I don't anticipate that the price of a week as we're looking at it right now. It's going to get much better because of the supply that's out there. What's going to happen with corn and beans? I don't know, but I know this morning. I just checked and the corn price and down Blue Earth County was I believe $2.01 a bushel. So that price is way down to in the bean price at all about I think it was in the $5 in 5.5 92 or something in that range this morning. So, you know those those prices are down as well. And if those Commodities come in with large Productions, we probably see that price going lures. Well, we probably heard some people predict that we could see even more consolidations in agriculture fear of bankruptcies. And I had no. Glickman and Glickman said that he doesn't want to preside over a. Of that what do you think is that is that likely a lot of consolidation possibility of bankruptcies or yeah, there's going to be some serious problems this fall if the price doesn't improve on the grains as an example. We did a sampling and review with the lenders, Northwest, Minnesota. And ask them if they thought that the farmers and their portfolio would be able to meet their obligations this fall in 1998 and 35% of their borrowers. They said would not be able to meet their obligations this year and that's a very very serious and so that continues we could see 25% of our people if they're probably going out of business and now it is so detrimental to the small communities as well as the rural areas if they went out of business, but I mean how much of that is simply the marketplace and it's simply responding to you know, what's taking place very naturally, you know, you hear a lot of businesses. Big lot of business and why is it a different for agriculture a lot of small businesses fail? That's true. And I thought you would agricultural. There's a normal transition there and they're always says and attrition in. That I don't think will ever change but it right now we're probably seen that expedited by probably 20 to 25% over what it normally would be in and I think that's the scary Factor. That's just that you talking about. That's the weather. That's the Vic It's a combination of factors the weather the price and you know, the whole situation here that we're looking at. So what about just a couple minutes left kind of wind up here the safety-net. Do you think that I think I heard you earlier say that you think that it will always be there in some form. What how do you see it and it's free and it's the best was always change. But essentially what will be the safety net for Farmers. Well, what's the intent of Congress was last time around is to make the federal crop insurance program be that safety-net and unless there is some improvement in that. I don't think that's going to succeed but hopefully they will fix that the repair it make some changes in it. And make that thing much more workable. And other than that the crop insurance program being there. I think there has to be a long ride out there that's commensurate with the cost of production on one. We do a calculation on a person that's going out there to do farming for the year. We look at that price either has to be $4 a bushel for a weed or 4 and 1/4 four-wheelers 250 for corn or whatever it is. And if you can't do that and have some kind of an indicator that you're going to get close to that of the bankers going to get very nervous about providing you funds for that. Are there different kinds of crops. Are we seen anything emerging that we haven't heard a lot about there are many states were tobacco is grown. Obviously his is tobacco grown here. Not that I'm aware of what we do have six counties that are former. Tobacco growing counties counties that were in Minnesota. They have we got to back alignment. Out there, but there hasn't been any tobacco growing out there that I'm aware of in the last several years, but we have grown it in the past. And now one of the new crops is coming on as canola grow quite a bit of canola up in the northern part of state and that's been a good option program for them to go to however that has to be in a rotation so he can't grow that every year and you have to have a rotation Factor going on with that was some various other grains. So what did you think about them lied? You think that the Upper Midwest is in a farm crisis right now, is that a fair fair statement definitely very much and you see it as a long-term thing or anything you could write itself in a fairly short. Of time or No, even if we were to have a very good crowd for a good price is going to take several years of that to make it come out of the the situation that it's in right now. It's going to take quite a while for a good while we sure appreciate your coming in today. But thank you for the invite and I appreciate the opportunity the last hour we've been talking about the what some have called a new Midwestern farm crisis a series of reports your Minnesota Public Radio, and we've been hearing some news reports this week and we've got more throughout the week. So stay tuned for that. So again thanks to Wally's Party director of the federal Farm Service Agency. He is small green farmer in Northwestern Minnesota and a former State lawmaker representing Northwestern Minnesota. Thanks to the folks who called today. It is now a 6 minutes before 12 noon, and I'm just a few minutes. We'll be checking news headlines and then we'll be going off all live to the Minnesota meeting today where today's guest is Norman Ornstein. A resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is as many of you know, one of the country's best-known and most respected political analysts. He's going to be talking about getting big money out of us politics what we can do now and that will be coming up shortly after noon for a Minnesota Public Radio. It's now 5 minutes before 12 noon. I'm Ray Suarez Leonard slatkin conductor of the national Symphony Orchestra is an advocate of 20th century American works and Orchestra is here to preserve a tradition that has been passed down for centuries. But also to provide the works that will continue to be passed down slack and joins us to talk about new music new listeners and the future of American symphony orchestras on the next Talk of the Nation from NPR news. And you can hear Talk of the Nation this afternoon at 1 right here on Minnesota Public Radio news now 5 minutes before 12 noon. Let's hear from Garrison Keillor and The Writer's Almanac.