First, here’s hoping everyone had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. Next, the Christmas season is now officially here. Black Friday has come and gone, for many by Thursday night. Many, especially children, have compiled wish lists of what they want under the Christmas tree. Today, seems an appropriate time to generate a Christmas wish list for those producing our food, fiber, and fuel.
• Precipitation – It’s pretty obvious but producers in most of Kansas and the Great Plains want moisture, lots of moisture. And they would prefer it to come not too heavy or light and spaced out perfectly to prevent moisture stress for crops. Except for wheat harvest, then it can quit for about ten days. Cattle producers trying to rebuild herds need precipitation to help pastures recover and lower the costs of forage.
• Better crop prices – While crop prices have dropped significantly, the price of inputs to produce those crops hasn’t. The joy of farming is normally when crop prices are high it’s because you have less to sell. When prices drop, it’s because of a good crop year.
• Better finished cattle prices – Consumers have noticed how high beef prices are compared to the recent past. However, those in the business of finishing beef are feeling the pinch as they are paying very high prices for the cattle moving into the feedyard. Lower grain prices help but not enough to cover the costs of production.
• Trains & transportation – With the increase in oil production and other fuels such as coal, trains and the ability to transport agricultural commodities in general are at a premium. What train transportation is available comes at a premium and further hurts grain prices. There is no short term fix for this problem. We simply don’t have the transportation capacity for the shipping demand.
• Tax relief – Many landowners have seen significant increases in their property taxes as local governments and other entities like school districts seek to balance their budget. In much of Kansas the majority of the land in the county is owned by agricultural concerns. What worsens the burden is the rapidly increasing value of farmland as prices have climbed dramatically over the last five years combined with increasing tax rates.
• Water conservation – Producers will gladly adopt cultural practices, crops, and technologies allowing them to use less water (both precipitation and irrigation) while maintaining economically feasible yields. They need new technologies, new genetics, possibly new crops, and better overall cultural practice development.
• Rational thought & education – Agricultural producers need the public, politicians, and farm leaders to put aside the emotional rhetoric tugging at heartstrings and people’s fear and have everyone sit down to look at the facts. Producers need to have the groups representing them present the facts for people to evaluate. Producers also need to look at the concerns of the public, evaluate them for their validity, and formulate a response based on facts.