A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from Sioux Falls. Program highlights the farm crisis, and the low crop prices. Mark Steil interviews Stan Stevens, University of Minnesota Extension Economist, who shares insights on the factors playing into low prices, including weather and production risk. Stevens also answers listener questions. Program also presents recorded commentary from farmers at rally.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
NPR's Main Street radio coverage of Royal issues is supported by the blend in Foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening. We invite you to visit the Main Street Radio website go to www.mpr.org and click on Main Street. You can hear Main Street radio reports as well as hear this program live on the internet. If you miss any part of the program, you can hear it at any time on the Main Street website that address again www.mpr.org and click on Main Street.Good afternoon. I Mark style and this is a special Main Street radio midday from Sioux Falls. We're going to turn our attention now to agriculture in the farm crisis. The prices farmers are paid for what they grow are terrible that means lower income and the very real possibility that many will go out of business with us from our Saint Paul studio is University of Minnesota extension Economist and Stevens. Good afternoon stand stand by if you could kind of run-down what are some of the reason that that corn prices soybean prices on WETA is not so great. Why are those prices so low really is just the long range weather patterns that we've experienced. We've had three good crops in a row are at least moderately good crops in a row in the car. And so I being bailed and the early 1990s. It wasn't quite that favor.So we could focus on that the new Farm program released a lot of acres and farmers are finding them differently. We can focus on that little bit that perhaps that has had a contribution to supplies and how can I be the lower prices at the international level on the demand side? And we have China China is always interesting to look at it's maybe been overrated a little bit in the last few years or something at night make a difference and it continues to be interesting on the supply side to with a drought last year and floods this year or get some of those reasons in that details during the show. We should have time to go down each one. But we also like to hear from all of you are listeners are phone number is one 800-537-5252 805 37525 to the low prices have a very real and immediate impact on Farmers had a farm crisis rally and Worthington last weekend Valley City North Dakota farmer Marcy.accent told her story or decided that it was time to give up. These Farmers age 3255 all live within a 1 hour drive of my house. These auctions all occurred in a 5-month. Earlier this year. We're not talking about a very big piece of North Dakota. We're talking five months. One Auctioneer the story tells itself. On our family farm. We have a hundred 50 beef cows and we find my proximately 1200 acres are equipments on the average 20 years old parts of the house. We live in over a hundred years old. We live in Farm Very conservatively, but we still can't make it. In fact three the last five years we have been able to make all of our payments if it weren't for my job and tell him we wouldn't be farming at all. And I don't know if it's a comfort dust or not. But according to our local Banker 85% of their Farm customers did not make required capital or real estate payments in 97. We're going to lose many more Neighbors. My fourteen-year-old son loves the farm raped a bails. He works with the cows and are we encouraging him to farm? No. After 20 years of farming we still have nothing saved for retirement. Why would we want that for him? North Dakota farmer Marcy spinning Center will hear more from that farm crisis rally later in the program University of Minnesota extension. Grain marketing Economist stand Stevens's with stand at you. You told that you told us that the production of us Farmers is is is tremendous. It's several good crop years in a row in that builds up the stocks. And of course when there's a lot of green on hand to the prices tend to sync because supply and demand Works into that have Farmers just become too good at what they do. Well, there are definitely very good at what they do. I have no doubt about that, but sometimes of the long-term weather patterns that I mentioned a few minutes ago can I cannot change that I think and agriculture especially Midwestern grain-based agriculture, there's two components of risk that does the farmer experience as one of his production risk weather getting the crop getting it put in right getting it taken care of right and getting the high. Yale and the weather is a is that the wild card on that that you thinks no control over. So the interesting thing about it though is that if the production practices are correct? I know what the weather is wrong. I saw it usually the case that we get our have our better marketing prices out of the weather disasters 1983 1988 in the floods of 93 disastrous production-wise, even for a good farmer that had it all put together, right but the prices were good. The drought of 88 is is Landmark event many people remember was there a green circle set that time in IND did the drought and that serve was absolutely that's exactly right in the 85 86 87. Maybe you could include 84 as well. We had we had a series of really three or four excellent crops as well. If you counted before it would have been for and really put us in a position where we had two stalks you. Ratios and corn for example of a 50% that means that the end of any particular demand year we had enough corn on hand to go halfway through the next year without considering the new crop that was being harvested. Well that figures more like 20% now but still the background timing and how we got here with respect to the weather kind of has the same feel to it United in the 1991 year. We had an Eastern Corn Belt Route 93. We had of the floods and 95. We had a just not all that great a crop top for a lots of little reasons the crop was about 2.8 billion bushel, 28% less than a year before. I was not a good crop so that my point is from 1991 through 1995. Only two out of five crops were good. And then and now we enter. Where we have three or possibly four good crops in a row and it just it just is very similar that that the good news is that we have not built up stocks as much as we did and in the 80 Hey in the mid-1980s and then back to your original question the El Nino cycle and the drought of 88 relay. Performed exactly what was needed to get us back into more of an equilibrium how it we had that a. Of a little better prices after 1988. That's pretty harsh medicine though to to cure a surplus. It sounds a little bit like taking a shot of pneumonia to clue to a cure influenza. I mean one is almost as bad as the other to say that the you know, a weather event a bad drought can can can be good. Anyway. Yeah, that's okay. I'm banned us so often. To find some good news, you have to trade off and compromise with some bad news. I taken on in terms of other trade-offs just from from a casual observation. If you if you if you lose 20% of your crop to the weather at the Corn Belt level quite often prices are up by a factor, maybe 3 to 1 maybe 60% higher prices, so You just want to do the arithmetic and look at the bottom line and and I accept the risk. I manage it as best you can it does turn out that that Midwestern based agriculture corn and soybean Focus does a have more Prosperity a better income stream under conditions of of a weather reduce crap. You're listening to a special Main Street radio. Midday from Sioux Falls were talking about the farm crisis and low grain prices are phone number is one 800-537-5252. Let's take a call Cliff is with us from St. Cloud. Good afternoon Cliff. I haven't heard mentioned is the failure of farmers to conduct our business is in a business-like way. The smartest thing I ever did was to quit firm in 20 years ago, and I was still making good money because I saw the handwriting on the wall at that time. If I had very little control over what might cost were and absolutely no control over what prices I was going to get paid for my produce. I was obviously going to be headed for disaster sooner or later. I'll hang up and let you continue stand that that's a good question. Why do farmers Farm? Well, we have all different categories. Sometimes when I give speeches down near Rochester Minnesota, I talk to what I call the IBM Farmers there people that took a job similar to our questionnaire and and retain a small farm base. To work on weekends and and to enjoy the outdoors or whatever that that was but they definitely as as a cliff had mentioned it weren't getting paid very much for that needed their their job, but I be at my nearest indoor in Waterloo Iowa. That's what I call the John Deere farmers, and I'm sure there's there's others around. We we all see all these compromises. There are some Farmers that are able to be big enough and And get everything correct to have enough luck. Perhaps go along with it to that. They may be can make that work. But but we tend to see lots of growth and the shorter end where we have part-time farmers and farm job that's been one of the more successful models over the last 10 or 20 years when things have really been stressful are caller from St. Cloud is not the only farmer who's who's left that industry at the Worthington farm crisis rally over the weekend. One of the people there was Northwest Minnesota farmer Mark Fogelson. He says he's leaving agriculture. Mark is also a musician and he sang a personal testimony of the farm crisis will hear a portion of that song and then hear his story. I remember back in 96 when we got the funk. Government said everything would be fine. didn't say nothing going to be This is my 17th wheat Harvest and it's my last one. I'm all done. It says I need to the wheat crop has been terrible and I used to be wonderful and I just can't make it. I got to hang it up, I guess. Lots and lots of sadness this year. When I do the last thing we just finished up our soybean Harvest on Thursday, and it was like I'd lay down on the ground and cried. I was just like it's done. But how long can I keep beating my head against the wall? My wife works off. The farm has been subsidizing the farm for a while since 92 and keep on you know, it kind of knocked my head against the wall until it's time to quick just a lot of such a lot of Celebration to I mean because it's it's over now and I have to go on to something else. I wish I knew what it was, but I don't so I don't know. And that's Mark Fogelson who farms near Mahnomen in Northwest Minnesota speaking at a farm crisis rally in Worthington over the weekend. One of the people who was at that rally is second. District, Minnesota Congressman David Mangan David joins us know bye-bye telephone. Good afternoon. What were your impressions of the rally on Saturday? Mendesah frustration and anxiety because of the low prices trying to decide where do we go next? I think that's one thing that makes me very discouraged about it is that this has been a cycle that we've gone through many times in our country. We have the cheapest. We have the most Dependable safest the food supply in the world and in large part is because we have a very efficient system of production and we have a market system for pricing and that really gets the farmers harder than anyone else and there has to be a way that we can provide some fairness in this process so that we're not cannibalizing our rural areas for the benefit of our city. The Democrats have a farm plan to help out the tell us about that. Are there really two key components to it? When is the relief for those areas like the Red River Valley which I've had tremendous crop losses in case the Red River Valley is a year after year and it would be a type of Disaster Response to a supplement crop insurance for crop insurance employee has not been adequate. The other part of the response is the long program. We have had a market won't program in this country for many years since we what it does is it says the farmers there is a price that we will assure you lose money. But at least you're not going to lose the whole Farm if you wish to participate in the program you sell your crap shoot you take a loan against your cramps at a certain loan rate level and the proposal is being Advanced is at this level be increased. 5% over its current level and that would provide from what I can tell some fairly substantial relief because although Farmers, like I said, we continue to lose money their losses would not result in their loss of their farming operation. What's the timetable for legislation in the US House this fall? Send a text to improve dramatically in the last month or the Republicans have a proposal which is different than the one Democrats are advocating advocating but still is as it's a strong proposal at 1 that the financial commitments the Democrats proposal. I think it's more effective when it does provide this cash flow and with both parties attempting to move legislation. Hopefully we could pass it before the October recess or Cobra tournament and hopefully within the Implement by the end of the year or early in 1999. Is there any possibility that the Clinton scandals will deadlock the House Inn in tie things up so that nothing happens? I don't think that the quiz. Situation really has significant bearing on this I've been in meetings in the last week sector of Agriculture equipment is in a tendon. He has reported on what the administration position is Administration has been quite strong in supporting the plan that the Senate Democrats announced earlier this week. And I'm I'm optimistic that that this unfortunate situation with the star report. The president will be on a separate track and although it certainly are devoting our energies to that cultural situation. Thanks for being with us this afternoon. It's Minnesota 2nd District Congressman David Minge with us in our Saint Paul studio is University of Minnesota extension Economist and Stevens stand. Mr. Winky brought up the Loan program, and I know that there is something Through that a lot of farmers will take advantage of this fall to try to squeeze some extra money out of their crop something called the loan deficiency payment. What is that? And how does it work? And what potential for income does that have well that. I was right in with that David Mann gauge stop comments on the marketing alone. If he were to raise the loan level what we're going to talk about what just get to be a little bit larger than it is right now, but and current legislation there is sort of a minimum price in place that a farmer could if he opted to could get the a non-recourse loan from the government and I'm at at the Visalia dollar and $0.80 per bushel. Perhaps might be that what he would receive a heat of them can pay that loan off at any time and then sell a car on or alternatively he could just let the government have the corn and default on the non-recourse loan. That's been the way of Worked at many times in the past the situation is that the government really doesn't want to receive the car their policy 4th, at least the last 10 years has been with pick certificates or various various kinds of programs. They send a strong signal that they just do not want to receive corn into government storage. So the ldp comes in a sort of the backdoor incentive for Farmers not to take advantage of this privilege. So if if a farmer receives and ldpe that might be as much as twenty or Thirty cents per bushel he gives up the right to receive the loan proceeds into the fault of the government or or some other aspects of that might be a given up as well. You think a lot of farmers will take will use them into this phone is going to be Cornerstone a very fundamental part of the safety net that we do have in place Farmers that do use it can be pretty much guaranteed. On the loan rate for their area whatever it is in one thing to keep in mind to as we do have all of our acres in production stole these benefits or in the past. They might have operated against 80% or so. I'm a component of the land because there was land set aside how we get the benefits of Applied toward really a full production base listening to a special Main Street radio midday from Sioux Falls, and we're talking about the farm crisis this afternoon with us now by telephone is Minnesota 1st District Congressman Gil gutknecht good afternoon Gil the Republicans also have a plan to deal with the farm situation. What can you tell us about that? Well, first of all up is September weeks ago. We passed a bill in the house. And I think it has made its way the Pres president's desk. They would roll up next year's and two payments to this year to make them available the pharmacy if they decide to take them. Secondly, we're working on a disaster relief package that will be about to four billion dollars for farmers in for the markets that they have lost due to sanctions that have been imposed by the administration. I think a big part of this whole debate is the fact that we have lost about 5 billion dollars worth of exports. I think most Farmers agree with the basic principle that farmers allowed to have the right to decide what to plant on their acres and then I think you were talking a little bit about that just before I came on but freedom to farm was really predicated on also freedom to Market and where we really stumbled at least from the national perspective is keeping those markets open foreign markets. What's happening in Asia is how to prepare. Impact on us and I think Minnesota Farmers farmers in the Upper Midwest are much more dependent on exports then perhaps Farmers that even in other parts of the country is the export situation something that can be evened out so that you know that demand is always there or will there always be the Cycles where a country has a huge economic crisis. They stop buying and US farmers pay. The matter is anybody who studied agriculture for more than a couple of days recognizes that there are certain Cycles to markets and we can't completely eliminate that but I do think that we need to do more to increase the exports we have for example of the last couple of years Congress has approved and authorized and ultimately appropriated for nearly 5 billion dollars worth of export enhancements. The administration is used a very very small portion of that same is true of the CRP. It's true that we did cap the acreage in the total appropriation for CRP, but the administration is not use the entire authorization. In other words. Were there still several million Acres that are authorized to prove inappropriate for that. The administration hasn't used and I think that's another tool that can be used. Finally. Another thing that we've been strongly pushing that was part of the farm bill is what we call Crop Revenue insurance and ultimately one way that the federal government can work with Farmers to create a shock absorber for some of those ups and downs in the cycles that we see not only in prices but also in terms What's happening with the weather is what's called crop Revenue Insurance. There's a very effective the program going on down in Iowa for the pilot program and I did most of the producers down in Iowa who are participating are very pleased with it because next year, for example, we could guarantee a price of $3 a bushel but if lenina comes to pass as many people believe it will and we see a dramatic reductions in and production levels. $3 price doesn't do you much good if you got a 40 bushel to the acre crop out there and that's why they long-term we've got to look at crop Revenue Insurance who got to look at XSport enhancements and low-interest Loans to move those extra strength when we can a final question does the Clinton matter threaten to tie up the house and then unblock Farm legislation. Don't think so. I think that's been greatly overstated. I think it's probably diminished. The president's ability to be a world leader. I think in some respects this Administration is suffering the Snickers of many of our trading partners, but in the end, I think Congress to get to do what he did to leaves right is right ultimately. There is no real consensus. I mean, some people would like to go back to the old programs where the government basically decided what Farmers plants but I think anybody who looks at that pretty like the time recognizes that under the old government-run agricultural system that we went from 7 million Farmers to two million Farmers. I don't think by any objective measure that would be described as success. So I think we would have made some mistakes. There's some things we need to correct in the in the 96 farm bill, but on balance, I think that it will work as long as the Washington of the Department of Agriculture in the trade representative continue to do their part to make sure that our Farmers have equal access to those World Markets because American farmers are and will continue to be the most effective and efficient. Producers in the world and if they have access to those markets hunting farming will have a bright future. Thanks for being with us this afternoon. That's Minnesota First District Congressman killed with Nick with a is a University of Minnesota extension Economist and Stevens Stan the export Market seems to have just Fallen apart for a US Farmers this year. Well, that's true with a corn Focus. We we were maybe hoping to sell some corn to China and as much as they had a serious drought last year and somehow or another they were able to tighten their belts and and and squeak through the Asian economic troubles consumption standards and in Asia and general and shine in particular are showing up in the data now, they just not using as much as they say they out of work for a few years Chinese corn a coarse-grained corn consumption was increasing by about 10 million metric ton per year and now it's about half that so still Fine, but slow down in the meantime their capacity to produce corn the underlined Tran has got a pretty strong growth component to it as well so longer-term, but I could probably keep up with her new man at along the way we're going to have the Wiggles and Waggles of the weather one possible positive development. Is that the floods in China this year did come on the back of a drought last year and it is really still pretty much unknown as to how that's going to really play out. There's a lot of uncertainty about Chinese production this year yet and that could come through with a little Chinese business. So I'll later in the year. Russia has not had a great agricultural year as I understand it. What what are the prospects for the Soviet verb for Russia buying more grain from the US they've had a very poor crop is as you know it but the prospects I think our are not that good for one that reason the last year they had a reasonably good crop. So we have a little bit of a buffer and place a second. I just don't have any money. I know the IMF his is working with Russia now, but even if something were worked out there, I doubt if we would see that translate into Imports Russia lower their consumption quite a bit over the last of us is in the post-cold war. By basically becoming a little more efficient are they just not. Consuming as much of there was there was a time when we heard stories about bread being fed to Hogs. It was so cheap the government made food and feed stuff. So cheap that those kinds of things could happen and that's been run out of the system now, they're more Back in Balance at but the probably unlikely that the kind of policies that were in place ten or fifteen years ago would come back. The farm crisis is tough on all Farmers, but that seems to be especially difficult for anyone who's just getting started in agriculture at the Worthington rally over the weekend Dennis Johnson of Murray County in South Minnesota said there just aren't many young Farmers out there because the agricultural economy is so bad Johnson is a farmer and also runs a farm machinery business. and I see Maybe if I could count on both my hands, I don't think I could find 10 Young Farmers 30 and under in Maury County. I know I can I look around at all my friends there. Why is it working in town? It's not right. I have seven sons. I sure love to have him live here, but there's nothing for him. I look around and I see hogs at $0.28 last year alone as small as I am. I lost $19,000 raising Hogs. It doesn't cash flow and I'm tiny. I look around as machinery dealer and I see the last full machinery. We can sell the product if you don't have the book The Buck starts out on the lamp. That's where it starts. And that's Murray County farmer Dennis Johnson joining us now is a David Hess from the country are he Farms there? He's also a farm Advocate that good afternoon David. Good afternoon, Mark and we heard from Are representatives in Congress David Minge and Gil gutknecht a little bit earlier in the program. What sorts of Hope do you hear out there for yourself? Personally that some of these Congressional measures could be a real benefit the farmers as if it's something that I want to do we look at this year, but we have to end up looking into the future on hand as the Dennis Johnson was mentioning their earlier about the young farmer staying on a land at this particular point. There just isn't anybody that's willing to start in agriculture right now and very few people are trying to actually stick it out. It just appears that there's going to be an exodus of people right now unless something happens in the very near future here very quickly that these prices going to end. Removing their way up what will happen if I left a large segment of farmers in their fifties sixties even 70s is leave leave the business of who will Who will Farm their land I guess so it looks to me there would be some corporate entity that probably would end up stepping in and you know somehow or another get it to pharmd. I know there is the talk by a few people that family Farmers that are saying what's the use let's just leave it black next year and maybe in the end. That's the best alternative I get the message across that we just can't to survive at these prices any longer uniform Advocate which is understanding means you work with farmers in financial trouble trying to help them get through the situation. Are you expecting a busy winter? Just occurring right now. Just next this week and next week in the phone call. I had this morning again with another one that's going to be happening in probably two weeks. They're not waiting for the crop the end of coming in to even see what kind of a yield it is and see what kind of dollars that is going to generate. We already know that there's definitely going to be a shortfall and that's the starting now and the end of the future when we were at Farm Fest at for the very first time we ended up everyday like I don't know how many people ended up coming up and saying a boy. Are you going to be busy this next year and it started already Mark David the one final question your area. Your farm even was a hit by the March 29th tornado. It should nearly destroyed comfrey and then the same storm later hit st. Peter many farmers were hit by that twister. How are they doing? And is it just a double impact now they have to deal with a tornado and and the the poor farm economy time Not only was it the March 29th storm, but there were a lot of the same people including myself hit by July 18th and 20th storm as well as the now of course with the disaster is so low prices. It's just very Doom and Gloom right now and I wish that there were something that we could say that it was a very positive. I guess kind of looking at the positive side of it. There are a lot of new buildings that are going up but there is a tremendous shortfall with the insurance proceeds that were received and still a lot of insurance issues that are still going on as well arbitration happening in some cases and and in some cases that nothing is being done at this point. The building sites are still City. Just with absolutely nothing been done since March 29th. Thanks for being with us this afternoon. I was David Hess who farms near comfrey. You're listening to a special Main Street radio. Midday on Minnesota Public Radio. We're talking about the farm crisis and grain prices. If you'd like to join us call one. 800-537-5252 Michael from Winona is with us this afternoon. Good afternoon, Michael doing good one organic food broker and organic farm labor over here in the Winona, Minnesota area. And I just made an a trip out to Ontario California and looked at one of those 10,000 cow dairies that they melt five times a day the corporate since they call him a corporate Dairy. And I saw cows out there that had one Pete left and they were still milking that last Pete if we turn over the Grange and we turn over the vegetables and we turn over the milk in the meat. the corporate test we ain't going to have food fit to eat and I can tell you right off the bat that I'm very angry about these issues and I'm empathetic with the conventional farmer in America today. But if you don't get back in control and have your consumer know your farmer and your farmer know your consumer, we ain't going to get back in control. We're going to have a disaster One Source has to make to the conventional grow and I don't care if they're 22,000 acres are 2 Acres. There's a way to regain control of the market that's selling direct every time a dollar bill has his hands he got to make sure that you control that son of a buck and not the corporate office and I'll get off the line. You can discuss this a little bit one last thing. I want to mention are organic food Cooperative out of the serious cuz grown from to farms and 1978 254 Farm. We're coming in Behind These corporate bastards, and we're going to regain control to an organic farm model and you just walk Thanks for the call Stan Stephens at University of Minnesota extension. Economist is with us this afternoon a reaction stand. Well, that was that was a quite that quite a statement time. I've been thinking about a little bit I guess, you know, we have to get almost philosophical when when you get emotional and it just seems to me like The other rules of business in this country are especially in our culture are competitive but I would argue Affair the large corporations can borrow too much money and get in trouble and have to be right if we financed as well. So I think the rules of business are operating at their very competitive. There are some small farmers that are making up. There are some large ones that do that are making it and also both groups are having their stress under certain conditions this this side of the cycle. I mean it with respect to livestock and hogs in particular. We haven't had a government program that I can recall. It really got involved and stabilizing or influencing hog prices. So historically we've had good price of some of the time and Lahser price of some of the time now being example, but those that have stayed with it in the long run and and financial reserves and place to get through of the low side of the hog cycle have well, they're still Claire and some of them at least they're doing all right. I think the grain markets are kind of headed for that kind of environment. It's going to take just a little while to get used to it. But the current situation and Grains, I think we're at the bottom. I don't see it getting any worse and I do see some potential situations where could get a little better. We can buy be glad to talk about those if you would have time to do that. You are listening to a special broadcast from Sioux Falls, Main Street. Radio broadcast. Mark style hosting talking this hour about the major serious. He can I math problems facing Farmers all across our region and what might be done about those problems. We have temporarily lost her signal apparently from Sioux Falls and a we will resume our conversation just as soon as that is that the connection can be reestablished our conversation emanating live from Sioux Falls Main Street radio broadcast on the farm crisis in our region while we are waiting for the wires to be reconnected there. Let's take a quick look at our weather forecast Cloudy Skies forecast for this afternoon across Northeastern Minnesota. Sunny skies for the most part with highs today low fifties in the Northeast to the mid-60s in the southern parts of Minnesota tonight. Increasing cloud in the southwest Florida partly cloudy in the Eastern parts of the state matter fact, there's a possibility for some Frost down in the Southeastern corner of Minnesota with overnight lows mid-thirties in the East to the mid-forties in Western Minnesota the chance for some rain across southern Minnesota tomorrow partly cloudy in northern Minnesota tomorrow with highs in the sixties the Twin City forecast for the day calls for a sunny sky this afternoon with a high in the middle 60s clear skies are forecast for tonight with an overnight low right around 40 degrees and then tomorrow we can look for a cloudy sky in the Twin City area 30% chance for some rain with a high from 60 to 65 degrees. Waiting for our technical problems to be corrected here and you have been listening and to a broadcast from Sioux Falls today dealing with the farm crisis in our region has become a source of considerable consternation. Of course as you as you know, it's also become a fairly big political issue and could end up playing quite a significant role in the governor's race yet this year and We thought today would be a good day to take a closer. Look at the what's actually going on out in the farm. And what the what the possible solutions are. Let's try to do a resume that broadcast now from Sioux Falls here again is Mark Style. Apparently still alive having some difficulty getting that to connection re-established. There was talk, of course during the summer as the politicians were out in the hustings. There was some talk about to possibly having a special legislative session to help deal help farmers deal with the current economic problems and number of the candidates signed on to that idea virtually. All of the politician said that at least some programs should be considered to help farmers in the short run though. The general consensus seemed to be that in fact the biggest issue. Why are the biggest the solutions into the extent? There is a Government Solutions problem lies in Washington DC. And of course, that's what we were hearing from Congressman. Minge and Congressman. Good neck speaking about earlier during this hour. Unfortunately, you know, when you ever have these brought a live broadcast every once in a while things don't go quite as smoothly as you'd hope and especially when there's a major technical problem, which is what we're experiencing now. Gary are we are hello neighbor back. We all just like just like magic just when I ran out of things to say you did a good job. Thanks. What will jump right back into it here University of Minnesota extension economista. Stan Stephens is with us and if we can it's go right back to the phone line some people who have been waiting there for quite a while. We have an from Osceola, Wisconsin calling in this afternoon. Good afternoon an My point is if I guess I'm not a farmer but we're small business here too. And the more I see it. This isn't come as any surprise to me. I see a lot of correlations their work pretty much left on our own wants to deal with very little help repair on health insurance and we can't even buy it insurances stats. The big corporations can get where we pay a higher percentage of taxes than the other ones. Do I just don't think the United States is very friendly to small business all of us. So this isn't even come as a surprise to me. I think we need to help people that didn't used to be her own business when I started this like seven years ago, and I've been on both sides of it and I'd hate to be a farmer boys going through just being a pretty good business managers. We're not Losing terrible out of money or I mean you can't get ahead. Well, thanks for calling in this afternoon with with that observation and Stan Stephens event farming is a tough business. All small businesses is a tough business, but it's something that people love to do when they want to stay with it, but it's frustrating when when prices are so low that it's hard to earn a profit. That's true. I thought it said it's a brutal business. That's very volatile Out There Our good times and certainly bad times as we're experiencing now in the 1980s. I remember that. Very well how things had to resolve themselves some very good Farmers that that had troubles with the weather Prayer. Maybe I had brought their son in the business at just the wrong time. I had The Misfortune to to be out of favor with a with a chance. I got in trouble and the way that worked at itself out. The next few years the land was all pharmd and it was farmed by those that had been more cautious and more conservative in their management or maybe just had a little bit about better luck operating. It was all a farm. Rent values came down opportunities 1.1 positive element here is so that for those that are now at last you're having come and gone. I interested to get started if they have the cash in the reserves and lot for the family connections or whatever. It takes now is probably a good time to get started some of those that started in the in the 86 87 88. Got off to a real good start and possibly are in a strong position here today. You're listening to a special Main Street radio. Midday were coming to you from Sioux Falls this afternoon. One thing that can be said about farmers in tough economic situations is that they're never short on ideas and how to deal with a matter one of the more interesting ideas at the world. Ten farm crisis rally came from Jim sarfo farms near Eagle Bend. He says since farmers are losing money on most of the crops they plant they should cut back idle some of their field and not plant anything and then he thinks it would be a dramatic visual reminder of agriculture's plight. We are just tired of producing for nothing when I started farm and I did not take a vow of poverty then do that, but I put my family through it. And I'm not doing it no more. We don't have to do it. No more their families that can't do it out there. But last year my wife and I are working those hours made $9,000 on her income tax. One good job can take care of that easy and we don't have to work as hard. We work way too hard. And we can float by it'll look good black. Yeah, I think it's a good plan, and maybe if we can get more people to do it would be bestowed not not like to see any better than driving down I-94 and see nothing but black Fields. I think it would leave a message to the people who depend on others people who depend on us so dearly and when they I'm a cool guy comes out to buy him to deliver my fuel next spring. I'll just tell him I don't need it at vacation. Sounds really good to me. It really does just my whole family at Siegel been farmer Jim sarff another phone call or now. Bob is on the line from Little Falls. Good afternoon, Bob. Afternoon, I appreciate the program is very interesting on I'm a farmer. I have 80 call dairy cow farm and it's been very tough. And I just would like to make a cup of common like come on to the part-time farming. I know Stan mention that it's it's been a successful model and someone works at IBM and and federal like that. But the truth is that is where Walmart one more time just struggling to get by and no children are suffering that I mean, it's it's really bad because you put all your time and all from 5 in the morning to all g910 at night and you just don't have time for children anymore. And in terms of competitive business like trying to equate corporate corporations will make the cereals and sell the oil in fertilizers to us. Yeah, it's competitive are but you know when you got its struggle this hard and this long and you go to these long cycle so far. Just what you just making the ends meet. I mean it just you can't compare it that way. It just it's not an equal playing at all. And I guess my concern is you know, sometimes you got to get to the reality of it. Then the farmer I've been told is 10% of what you buy at a store. When's the last time are you going to this low price for corn Commodities and cereal tomorrow grain Commodities? Are you going to see the price of a box of Shield drop substantially know you're not that we don't have that control. And so I think we just got to get to a far more Justice demand and that's what I like to comment on that. There's an injustice year so horrible and they're forcing Farmers become bigger and bigger and what happens is that we get the technology we go from 50 lb production to account for call to where we're at 70 right now, but we're Like a year ago when the milk prices dropped to a $10 in a weird at that point of just going under again and quit thinking terms that I think just dollars and cents. Thanks for calling in this afternoon with that observation. Another phone call her Al from Eden Prairie is with us. Good afternoon now, good afternoon. It's been quite an interesting discussion. I don't want to sound cold cruel hearted or anything like that. But I believe the vast majority of the the farmers are out there. They're in there is a business and I don't know how many and I haven't done a lot of research. I'm not sure how many businesses there are out there that are looking for guarantees. There is no such thing as a guarantee and I'm not trying to sound like a rabid Republican cuz I'm definitely not but it seems that yes, there are hard times. A lot of people go through hard times decision was made Maybe by father and you can walk into it or whatever that there is you're going to be doing farming or you just love it. That's great. But to choose a business and then to may or may not be successful. I didn't get any given time. It's it seems kind of unusual to be saying well since we can't make it I want someone to guarantee that I'll get a price even if the market doesn't bear it or things like that. I guess I just like to have no more discussion on that cuz I'm I'm kind of curious as how we can avoid for socializing for me. I guess. I'd like to thank you very much. Thanks for calling in with us is University of Minnesota extension Economist and Stevens, and that is a question that has been debated for For years decades maybe ever since so farming has been around since the mid-1930s for sure, right? Well, yes. Agriculture is very risky the volatility that comes from the weather is really the main source with respect to grain-based Agriculture and it can be crops can be reduced at the national level by by 1/4 and we talked about that before the risk is is very high and low, but the risk is two-sided. I have talked to some Farmers recently who are telling me that they had last year and the year before the best farming years. They've had in a long long time. They receive government payments. They receive corn and the $45 area one of those years. They've got their grain sold of that. They're producing this year because they were conservative and I like the prices we had the last Christmas and they're not they're not too worried about that at least this next year. So these are the winners and the ones that will pick up the slack and carry for If it does not negate the point that it's a brutal world. It is a agriculture is brutal a very risky is very challenging to the management to a person and a good managers will be rewarded in this environment and they are being rewarded today. And the ones that that aren't are going to be supper atlases some consequences. I don't want it. I don't want to downplay the fact though that a lot of the risk and agriculture is just raw luck. Sometimes good managers just have bad luck and vice-versa. So I I I seen it so often wear a fire or or a bad spell of weather in the winter a medical crisis just does in a farm. That's right. Well, it's tan, I'd like to thank you for being with us this afternoon, Stan Stephens is a extension Economist in Grain marketing at the University of Minnesota, and you've been listening to a special Main Street the radio edition of midday coming to you from our studio at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Also thanks to David has to join us from his farm near Country in southwest Minnesota or Saint Paul engineer for the broadcast has been Randy Johnson with Bentley handle the technical side here in Sioux Falls. Thanks also to our Saint Paul producer Sarah Meyer into Sioux Falls producer Cara Hitman. Thanks also to Rachel reabe for reporting assistance on the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern railroad stories, and just a reminder that that you can hear more about the railroad issue tomorrow and Thursday at the 7:50 on Morning Edition. Main Street radio coverage of Royal issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening and just a reminder to about that website. How many people are dying in to invite you to visit the Main Street Radio website at www.mpr.org. Click on Main Street. You can hear Main Street radio reports there as well as this program, and if you miss or want to hear a repeat the of the program just tune in to just go to that Main Street website again that address www.mpr.org and click on Main Street. Main Street radio examines a plan to send dozens of coal trains a day through southern Minnesota to and Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday at 7:50 on Morning Edition on Minnesota Public Radio k n o w FM 91.1 in the Twin Cities. You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. It's 61 degrees at k n o w FM 91.1 Minneapolis-Saint Paul the Twin Cities weather forecast. Mostly sunny this afternoon with a high of around 60.