There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and the burning desire to possess it.- Napoleon Hill

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Farm Bill 2012 – Corporate Welfare or National Economic and Security Act?

Farm Bill 2012 – Corporate Welfare or National Economic and Security Act?
Agriculture policy is currently undergoing a transformation in Washington brought about by the dire fiscal challenges that our country faces and the realization that the current Farm Bill is not designed to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Drastic changes are inevitable in the 2012 Farm Bill due both to budget deficit reduction and to pressure from many urbanites that argue farm policies no longer best serve the economic health of our nation. There is debate by many that the government should espouse a hands off approach to agriculture, and the recent spending package that will be included in the new 2012 Farm Bill is tantamount to corporate welfare.

Numerous activist groups are rallying their bases and lobbying for a free market approach to agriculture believing that this economic paradigm is the best approach to true prosperity. Recently a group in Kansas sent over 16,000 letters to U.S. Senators urging them to reject funding for the almost trillion dollar Farm Bill. Most of the funding, they explained, was used for SNAP, otherwise known as food stamps, and the rest (20%) was used to fund subsidies for crop insurance and agricultural R&D along with several programs to prop up crop prices.

A totally free market approach to agriculture has never been adopted in the history of the United States. Our founders realized the success or failure of this fledgling country depended on its capacity to sustain itself through the production of resources necessary for human development.
Fourteen of the founding fathers were farmers; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were the most outspoken advocates for the virtues of an agrarian country and the importance that agriculture played in the economic health of a nation.

“It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National
Welfare, Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance
in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more
apparent; and renders the cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of
public patronage.”

-George Washington

Countries worldwide have had a vested interest in agriculture production since the beginning of humanity, all the way back to ancient Egypt. Some think that government involvement in agriculture did not come to pass until after the Dust Bowl Era and the Great Depression. Yet, government’s involvement is traced all the way back to President George Washington who enacted the first agriculture program. President Harry Truman, a Missouri farmer, once said, “Those that don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.” We must be careful in calling for the federal government to back off of its involvement in keeping our agriculture industry viable. The U.S. Government’s role in ensuring a safe and consistent food supply is of paramount importance both to the economic stability of our country and to our national security.

The involvement in agriculture by the U.S. Government has been an established part of our nation’s history since the first trade restrictions on agriculture imports in the 1700’s. But why has the government so involved? This is the question that many of my urban friends raise, and yet it can be difficult to explain. Price supports and safety nets parallel the governments’ involvement in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Few would argue that without the United States’ vast network of interstate highways, bridges and railways that we would still be an economic superpower. The U.S. Government took control of developing our transportation system for several reasons. These include: an effective and efficient transportation system was instrumental to our economic strength and therefore for our national security (the U.S. Government’s first priority: US Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 11 - 16). Roadways and airport runways cannot be built profitably by the private sector without government funding. Agriculture, like transportation, is the foundation for a prosperous and secure nation. Agriculture is also subject to periods of minimal or negative profits for those in the industry causing detrimental lapses in production if not safeguarded against.

The stark realization remains that even though agriculture is pivotal for our national success, it is not always profitable for farmers and ranchers. We may decide that this is their fate, and that all types of businesses are subject to economic woes that force them out of the market. Yet, what happens when America’s agriculture producers are forced out of business due circumstances beyond their control, such as floods, drought or hail? This does not just affect the producer, but the consumer. Food is the most basic human need, without it, we have no need for fuel, cars, education, technology or entertainment. It is therefore paramount the federal government protect the well being of its citizens by ensuring that they have an abundant food supply, and that we aren’t subject to the mercy of our international trading partners to receive this most basic human need.

We realize that if our agricultural producers are not protected from failure, our ability to feed ourselves will be compromised, putting the United States at the mercy of obtaining food from other nations. Other countries supplying our food needs are not even a consideration, since many countries rely on the United States, the world’s breadbasket, to sustain their populations. Countries like the United Kingdom can no longer produce enough food for its own people, and China, as of this year, imported almost 70 million metric tons of corn and soybeans from the United States to feed its own people. China is expected to increase its food imports from the U.S. by sevenfold over the next few years. I need not describe the nature of future international relations with countries such as China if we withheld their most basic human need due to our inability to foster agriculture production in the most fertile and well nourished cropland in the world.

General Wesley Clark, a general in the United States Army and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, could not have illustrated this point better.

When the United States rationed food during World War II so citizens and soldiers had enough to eat, the Secretary of Agriculture often repeated the slogan: “Food will win the war and write the peace.”
I think of these words every time I read an article or see a fringe group attacking the modern-day farmer.
The harsh reality is America’s political leaders must take appropriate measures today to ensure that farmers do not become an endangered species tomorrow—a loss we cannot afford.
I am no farm policy expert, but I know about national security, and I know that farmers are as important today as they were in 1942.

Simply put, we must hold the thin green line.
If we cannot feed, fuel and clothe ourselves, then we cannot defend ourselves. If this one bright spot in our economy is choked off, then recession recovery will certainly stall. And, if rural America falters, we open the floodgate to even more fuel produced by nation states that do not share our values and strategic interests—and our country is less secure.

So why is it incumbent upon the federal government to supply these “subsidies” in the forms of crop insurance and price supports that are the cause of outcry among many fiscal hawks on Capitol Hill? To answer that question we must have a basic understanding of the purpose of these subsidies. All federal crop support programs can be classified as serving the purpose of a “safety net.” Crop insurance and programs such as ACRE and SURE ultimately shield the producer from losses that are outside of his or her control, such as floods or drought. The reasoning for the use of the different programs is due to different needs based on crop or region. Crop producers in the Midwest and northern states use crop insurance, whereas specialty crop producers in the South find direct payments more beneficial for their operations, simply because crop insurance was designed primarily for commodity crops (wheat, corn sorghum etc.)

During the 2012 Farm Bill negotiations it has been stressed that crop insurance will be the backbone and main safety net to keep in place, and in so doing absolve direct payments and other forms of price supports. Yet many argue that the government should not be subsidizing crop insurance, and so the question remains why must the federal government subsidize crop insurance? Here we go back to the example of our transportation system. The crop insurance business, just like the transportation industry, is rarely profitable for the private sector. As a result, the federal government creates a private-public partnership with approximately twenty crop insurance firms that provide affordable coverage to farmers. Indemnities paid by these crop insurance firms can be costly and cover a vast geographical area making it necessary for the government to subsidize these payments. If the federal government did not offer these crop insurance companies assistance in the payout of indemnities, insurance rates would have to rise to a level that could not be matched by the producer in order for the companies to cover losses sustained from consistent and widespread payouts due to drought, hail or floods.

Hence, instead of calling the 2012 Farm Bill  “corporate welfare”, it should be called the National Economic and Security Act (NESA).  Agriculture is the one product that America has a comparative advantage in producing. Our $114 billion export market speaks to America’s expertise in food production and our ability to feed ourselves and the rest of the world. Our export proceeds alone almost cover the $189 billion taxpayers are investing to provide a safety net for our agriculture producers. There cannot be a price tag placed on a safe, affordable and abundant food supply.

Agriculture production is the one aspect of the American economy that cannot be outsourced overseas. In terms of the return on the taxpayer’s investment, the dollars invested in agricultural production and research and development programs have consistently provided a positive return for the taxpayer. There are not many, if any current federal programs that provide a stronger return on the taxpayer’s investment. The growth of our export market which helps control our trade deficit, as well as provide the safest and most affordable food supply in the world, is a testament that the Farm Bill works and has worked for the past seventy-nine years. We must be careful not to sabotage the supply of our most basic human need. Our only other alternative would be to relinquish agriculture production from the private sector and into the hands of the federal government. Joseph Stalin tried doing this in Russia as part of his “Five Year Plans” during the last century with disastrous consequences and millions died of famine as a result.

I know firsthand that no government agency or government employee can compete with the work ethic, determination and ingenuity of the American farmer and rancher. The type of spirit and resolve that can only emanate from one who loves the land, who owns it, and who is emotionally vested through generations of sweat, blood and toil and countless working hours from sunrise to sunset day in and day out. We must continue to provide the necessary safeguards for our farmers and ranchers. Those of us who were born after the Great Depression have never experienced living in a United States that was unable to supply the food that its citizens needed. Our agriculture producers go to bat for us around the clock and in the harshest and most demanding working conditions. We must have their back when they need us the most both for their prosperity and ours.

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most
vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their
country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands."

–Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Jay (Aug. 23, 1785)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Four Leadership Lessons From The Founding Fathers by Doug Dickerson

4 Leadership Lessons From The Founding Fathers BY Doug Dickerson |

Now inscribed on the Library of Congress, James Madison's words are as true today as they were in 1829: “The happy Union of these States is a wonder; their Constitution a miracle; their example the hope of Liberty throughout the world.” In forging such a nation, the Founding Fathers were the most exemplary of leaders.
In celebration of our independence, let us note how their ideals hold true today. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” She's right. Here are four leadership principles our Founders taught us.
The courage of convictions: Our founders clung to and fought for the cause of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” With years of hindsight and the benefit of our modern comforts, it is hard to comprehend their sacrifices. Leadership in a global economy requires steady conviction in the face of incredible challenges. To say that our Founding Fathers were men of conviction would be an understatement, but all great leaders are. What will be the measure of your leadership?
The sanctity of sacrifice: In the formation of our republic and in signing the Declaration of Independence, the Founders pledged to one another, “our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.” The leadership principle of sacrifice is not new. Our Founders understood it well. And to that end we understand that sacrificial leadership is selfless, not self-serving. The commitment made 236 years ago reminds us that no great accomplishment comes without sacrifice and that causes greater than self are the lasting ones. Time tested through two centuries, today's best leaders understand the power of sacrifice when it comes to building a lasting business.
The fulfillment of faith: To their credit, the Founders understood and valued the practice of faith. In their wisdom the founders recognized the truth that we are all “created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” by which we live our lives and practice our faith, whether or in a higher power or ideals greater than ourselves. Stepping back to contemplate allows us to see the world around us, and the people entrusted to our leadership, in a more meaningful way. The executive model today is not so much an “independence from” mentality as it is a “responsibility toward” philosophy. Thoughtful leaders seek to be a blessing and to serve causes greater than self; wise ones remember the source.
The power of purpose: It was through persecution, hardships, and struggles whereby the Founders rallied and mutually pledged their “reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” in declaring our independence. The innumerable lessons our Founders taught us transcend political ideology and religious creed. The rally today is for leaders with purpose, backed by the power of their convictions, faith, and sacrifice, to make a difference in the world. Just as the Founders were men of clear purpose and mission, successful management today charts a clear course with the right women and men in place with the necessary tools to achieve their goals.
Our Founders were leadership pioneers; let us honor their memory as we celebrate.
Happy Fourth of July!
© 2012 Doug Dickerson. Doug Dickerson is a nationally recognized leadership speaker and writer. He is the author of the new book Great Leaders Wanted! Visit Doug's blog or follow him @managemntmoment.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Life's 6 Rules

1. trust yourself

If there’s something you dream of having, being or doing, go for it. Don’t let anything stand in your way. The truth is that you can achieve whatever you want, it’s just whether or not it’s worth it to you.

2. break the rules once in a while

“It is impossible to be a true original if you’re too well-behaved. You have to think outside the box”. What rules are you playing by? What beliefs do you have about what you should or should not do; beliefs that could be holding you back from being your best you?
Are you resisting starting a business because you think it wouldn’t be financially stable? Not following your gut on something because it seems ‘wrong’ or uncertain? How will you know unless you try?

3. don’t be afraid to fail

Now is the time to stop telling yourself thayt you’re not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, big enough, that you don’t have the genes, the connections, the right wardrobe. If you have dreams then follow them no matter what. Every failure just brings you one step closer to success.

4. don’t listen to the naysayers

“I never listen that you can’t”
Enough said.

5. work your butt off

“I recommend you sleep faster!” – I love this quote from the big man, although I wouldn’t necessarily say cut back too much on sleep. But the idea of working faster, harder, more directly and of making snap decisions rather than dilly-dallying around with busywork and Facebook? That certainly appeals. After all -
“None of my rules of success will work unless you do

6. always find time to give something back

It’s all too easy to get stuck on doing ‘important’ or ‘productive’ things rather than stopping to think about the things that truly matter to us. I know I’ve been guilty. When all is said and done, who or what do you really care about? And are you happy with what you’re giving to them, either in time or in other ways?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

What is CLASS?

What is CLASS?

Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident in the knowledge that you can meet life head on and handle whatever comes along.

Jacob had it. Esau didn't. Symbolically, we can look to Jacob's wrestling match with the angel. Those who have class have wrestled with their own personal angel and won a victory that marks them thereafter.

Class never makes excuses. It takes its lumps and learns from past mistakes.

Class is considerate of others. It knows that good manners are nothing more than a series of small sacrifices.

Class bespeaks an aristocracy that has nothing to do with ancestors or money. The most affluent blueblood can be totally without class while the descendant of a Welsh miner may ooze class from every pore.

Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not strive to look better by making others look worse.

Class can "walk with kings and keep its virtue and talk with crowds and keep the common touch." Everyone is comfortable with the person who has class because he is comfortable with himself.

If you have class you don't need much of anything else. If you don't have it, no matter what else you have, it doesn't make much difference.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Words of the Shawnee

Sent to me by a good friend yesterday and fully embodies the life philosophy of those most influential in my life and in whom I've always had the utmost respect.

"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.Trouble no one about his religion.Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,for your life, for your strength.Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to foolsand robs the spirit of its vision.When your time comes to die,be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more timeto live their lives over again in a different way.Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." -  --  Tecumseh


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Senate Agriculture Committee Field Hearing at Michigan State University

Senate Agriculture Committee Field Hearing at Michigan State University
                                     Tuesday, May 31, 2011  
The purpose of the hearing was to discuss opportunities of growth for American Agriculture and focused on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill examining agriculture, energy, conservation, rural development, research, forestry, and nutrition policies that affect Michigan.

Panel I Witnesses:  Welcome from Michigan State University

Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon
President, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
  • MSU’s leadership in specialty crop research has yielded USDA awards of $23.8 million in the last three years. This funding is invested in improving the quality, yield, and diseases resistance of Michigan’s main agriculture crops. MSU has begun the process of consolidating to better serve the state within funding constraints that are apparent with the 2012 Farm Bill.

Dr. J. Ian Gray
Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, Michigan State University
  • Support for CREATE-21 should be continued. “Create Research, Extension, and Teaching Excellence for the 21st Century” is requiring more funding of approximately $2 billion per year over a seven year period. Research would make up to 55 percent of the total and integrated programs would comprise the remaining 45 percent. This would allow the USDA to improve university research programs and develop the science that will guide the direction of American agriculture of the future.
  • MSU’s research programs are the basis for new applications in agriculture that improve productivity, economic value, nutrition and safety. MSU has been focusing on research that benefits U.S. agriculture in the following areas.
-          Genomics and improved potato breeding
-          Cold tolerance
-          RosBREED project
-          Oil engineering
-          Swine production

Dr. Thomas G. Coon
Director of Michigan State University Extension, East Lansing, MI
  • The national on-line presence of the Cooperative Extension, eXtension, continues to grow with investments from Farm Bill appropriations.
  • MSUE supports current Farm Bill legislation such as North Central Region Center for Rural Development which is hosted by MSU.
  • Federal support for Extension programs under the Farm Bill is an investment that promotes national stability and garners local and state support. Every dollar received from SmithLever and Hatch funding is leveraged 16 times with funds from state, local, and grant sources making  funding given to Extension services though the Farm Bill, a prudent investment.

Panel II Witnesses:  Michigan Agricultural Production and Farm Bill Principles
Mr. Clark Gerstacker
Corn and Soybean Production; Member, Michigan Corn Growers Association, Midland, MI
  • Important for Michigan farmers to have access to affordable risk management tools. 2012 Farm Bill is important because it ensures that the two percent of Americans that comprise the nation’s agriculture sector continue to provide low priced food for the other 98 percent of Americans.
  • ACRE and crop insurance absolutely are very effective and cannot be relinquished in the new Farm Bill. Adjusting ACRE program triggers to be tied more closely to the individual farm will protect farmers from repetitive crop losses.
  • 2012 Farm Bill should strive to be producer-based not land owner-based. This assures that the land owner who simply leases out the land does not reap benefits but only the crop grower who assumes all the risks.

Mr. Ben LaCross
Cherry Production; Chair, American Farm Bureau, Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee, Cedar, MI
·         Young agriculture producers need the 2012 Farm Bill to consist of research, support mechanisms, rural development, conservation, and market access.
·         Value added agriculture is significant driver of Michigan’s and nation’s economy. Processed fruits and vegetables have a significant plane in America’s economy and the 2012 Farm Bill Committee should consider restoring processed fruits and vegetables back into the snack program.

Mr. Ray Van Driessche
Sugar Beet Production and Conservation, Director of Community and Government Relations, Michigan Sugar Company, Bay City, MI
  • Key reasons that a strong domestic sugar industry and an effective sugar policy are needed in the U.S.
-          Food security
-         Importance of size and efficiency
-         Restructuring
-         Trade challenges

Ms. Julia Rothwell
Apple Production; Chair, U.S. Apple Association, Belding, MI
·         The economic health of rural communities in Michigan is directly tied to specialty crops such as the apple industry. The most viable 2008 Farm Bill programs that should be continued or developed to protect the America’s specialty crops are:
-         Specialty Crop Block Grant
-         Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)
-         National Clean Plant Network
-         Market Access Program (MAP)
-         Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops Program (TASC)
-         Tree Assistance Program (TAP)
-         Immigration reform and worker guest programs

Mr. Ken Nobis
Dairy Production; President, Michigan Milk Producers Association, St. Johns, MI
  • The Price Support Program disadvantages dairy farmers in today’s dairy industry. The cost of producing a hundred pounds of milk in the U.S. averaged about $17.30 during 2008-2010, and the Dairy Product Price Support Program only supported the price of all milk produced at $10.90.

  •  Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program is ineffective because recent increases in feed costs have eroded the MILC-fixed price target and have created inequities among dairy farmers based on the scale of their operations. Less than half of milk producers are currently eligible for MILC payments thus rendering it an ineffective safety net.

Mr. Peter B. Blauwiekel
Pork Production; Member, Michigan Pork Producers Council, Fowler, MI
  • NPPC has organized a Farm Bill Policy Task Force with the purpose of gathering opinions from producers around the country
  • NPPC hopes Congress will consider the following factors in evaluating the needs of the U.S. pork industry
                     -Maintain the U.S. pork industry’s competitive advantage
                     - Strengthen the industry’s competitiveness
                     - Defend the industry’s competitiveness by opposing unwarranted rules

Panel II Questions:

  1. Senator Roberts ask Ms. Julia Rothwell to rank the top two most important USDA programs. Miss Rothwell declines.

  1. Senator Roberts asks about dairy policy and if the U.S. is still a reliable seller. Mr. Ken Nobis answers that efforts should be focused on international marketing.

  1. Chairwoman Stabenow asks about how to build value-added programs.
      Mr. Van Driessche says funding is needed with developing processing.

  1. Chairwoman Stabenow asks why Michigan dairies were better of than the rest of the dairy industry.
            Mr. Ken Nobis states, “We have, it’s because we are smarter”.

  1. Senator Roberts asks about the ACRE program noting that 6% Michigan farmers signed up. Timing and complexity of payments received are impediments.

  1. Chairwoman Stabenow asks what can be done to help beginning farmers.
      Mr. Ben LaCross states that credit access and generational transfers are the       biggest problems.

Panel III:  Farm Bill Stakeholders in Michigan

Mrs. Karen Serfass
Forestry Production; Past President, Michigan Forest Association, Dafter, MI
·         Congress needs to consider enabling new income sources and reducing costs of land management.
1.       Federal green building policies should be revamped that discourage use of wood products
2.       Development of other market-based approaches to conservation such as carbon storage, water and renewable energy
3.       Reduce regulatory burdens on family forest owners such as the potential for new Clean Water Act regulations on pesticide applications and forest roads
4.      Permanent repeal of the estate tax

Ms. Kristen Holt, President
Quality Assurance International (QAI) and Senior Vice President, Food Safety & Quality, NSF International, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Programs that impact the organic industry extend beyond the Horticulture and Organic Agriculture title of the Farm Bill to conservation, trade, research, rural development and crop insurance.
  • The 2012 Farm Bill committee should focus on areas addressed by the public sector to include long-term research. Programs should be evaluated based on return on investment, and policies should be supported that improve rural incomes and long-term sustainability of soil, water and human resources.
  • Full support for the organic titles from 2008 would yield a return on investment equal to 40 dollars returned for every federal tax dollar spent.

Mr. Eric Davis
Director, Food Initiative, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Detroit, MI
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps alleviate family hunger. The
    United Way
    pursues opportunities to create better access to affordable, nutritious food and encourages the 2012 Farm Bill committee to ensure that SNAP continues to meet the needs of Michigan and the U.S.
-          Focus should be on strengthening the safety net in rural communities
-          Streamline access through cross-sector efforts ( Michigan Benefits Access Initiative)

Mr. Dennis West
President, Northern Initiatives, Marquette, MI
  • A restoration of the $100 million of mandatory funds each year to a Rural Renewal Initiative is needed to help create job opportunity in rural America. The utilization of the following programs funded should be prioritized in areas suffering from higher unemployment, low incomes and high poverty.
-          Intermediary Relending Program
-          Rural Micro entrepreneur Assistance Program
-          Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program
-          Water and Sewer Program
-          Water and Sewer Program

Mr. James Reid
Reid Dairy Farm, Grant Township, MI
  • REAP allows operations to implement energy efficiency practices. Total investment cost in installing the solar panels on the Reid Dairy Farm was over $140,000. The reduction in energy costs is estimated to be $5,000 a year. Without financial assistance via the REAP program, the return on investment would  take 28 years as opposed to 4 years under the incentives given with the REAP program.

Mr. David Armstrong
President and CEO, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, East Lansing, MI
  • Farm Credit utilizes all available program resources that permit credit to be disseminated among the broadest range of producers. The guaranteed loan program of the Farm Services Agency allows credit to be extended to farmers that do not have as much equity as other producers.

  • Credit programs need to be evaluated to ensure that they accurately reflect the needs of today’s farmers. It is necessary that caps on loan size be allowed to fluctuate based on inflation in land values.

  • Definition of what an eligible farm is should be made flexible to alleviate risk to corporate structures.

Panel III Questions:

  1. Chairwoman Stabenow asks about challenges to organic farming.
       Ms. Holt answers.
    1. Branding of USDA organic label most important
    2. Cost sharing
    3. Conversion funding between organic and conventional producers
    4. EQIP

  1. Senator Roberts asks if the solar panels provided by the REAP program will ever pay for themselves without REAP.
Mr. Reid answers probably if electricity costs rise and households start using more panels so that the cost per panel declines.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Overview of Senate Agriculture Committee's 1st 2012 Farm Bill Hearing: Importance of American Involvment in Global Food Supply

 Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing and First Hearing for 2012 Farm Bill

The purpose of the hearing was to discuss the role, risks and challenges for American Agriculture and the 2012 Farm Bill in meeting the food, fiber, and fuel demands of a growing world.

Panel I Witnesses:

Secretary Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary
·         The world’s growing population and incomes in developing countries will add to the demand for food, fuel, and fiber over the next 40 years. The United Nations estimates that the world’s population will reach 9.3 billion people by 2050. Per capita incomes are also expected to be higher which will create middle classes that demand higher quality foods such as proteins. Food demand is estimated to rise from 70 to 100 percent by 2050.
-          The U.S. agricultural sector must remain efficient and competitive 
-          Must meet challenges through research
-          Must focus on trade in addressing food needs and driving prosperity
·         Policy must be tailored to meet future needs. The risks and opportunities that are continually facing farmers and ranchers are always changing and thus policy must be adapted to meet those changes.
-          Enhancing conservation
-          Creating a green and cleaner future
-          Supporting agriculture research
-          Maintaining a strong safety net for U.S. producers
-          Developing new and beginning farmers and ranchers

Panel II Witnesses

Honorable Dan Glickman
Co-Chair of the Chicago Council’s Global Agricultural Development Initiative; former Secretary of Agriculture; Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Center
·         The attention that the U.S. government has given the global agriculture community since 2009 has been instrumental. In the past, this area was neglected, but America’s agriculture institutions are now part of a transformation that addresses the challenge of global hunger and at the same time, supports U.S. food and agriculture interests.
-          Food security contributes to U.S. economic and national security
-          American leadership is pivotal in combating global hunger
-          Much progress in delivery of global agriculture development
-          Future opportunities for U.S. leadership in global development
-          Support for extension services in developing countries critical
Mr. Barry Mumby
Senior Member Wakeshma Farms LLC, Colon, MI
·         American must be allowed to produce in a manner that allows them to produce yields better than the rest of the world. American growers can continue to improve crop yields and maintain the high productive quality of the nation’s topsoil in an environmentally sound fashion.
-          World carry out of nearly all grains continues to decline
-          Hard red winter wheat yields hurt by global droughts
-          U.S. farmer has a moral obligation to feed the masses
-          Safety net needed to buffer from weather losses & financial meltdowns
-          Utilize current crop insurance agents but keep premiums low to the farmer

Dr. Andrew Rosenburg.
Senior Vice President for Science and Knowledge Conservation International
·         The agricultural sector is a major driver of rural economic development. Food production from agriculture must not only be improved, but also aquaculture and fisheries and the conservation of the natural systems upon which that production depends.
-          Demand for food from a growing and wealthier population must be met
-          Increase production in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner
-          Ensure that the world’s poorest people are no longer hungry
Mr. Douglas DeVires
Senior Vice President Global Marketing Services, Agriculture and Turf Division Deer and Company
·         Productivity gap must be closed to combat global food demand trends. Failure to do so will result in increased malnutrition, starvation, and faltering world economies.
-          Trade must be enhanced
-          Strategic investments and research needed
-          Focus must be on sustainability
-          Advances in machinery and soft infrastructure important in achieving goals

Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen
H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy, the J. Thomas Clark Professor of Entrepreneurship and Professor of Applied Economics
Cornell University; and Professor of Agricultural Economics, Copenhagen University
·         The ability of the world to feed future generations has been questioned. Recent developments may be a short- run blip in the long-run trend of stable food prices or beginning of constant volatile prices of food. There are six issues that should be drawn attention to during the drafting of the 2012 Farm bill.
o   U.S. Agriculture will be a very important source of food for world’s population
o   Large fluctuations in food production and food price volatility leads to increased risk
o   Difficult to estimate exports demands due to international food prices
o   Up to 1 billion people suffer from inadequate intakes of nutrients
o   Trend in low food prices from 1974-2000 has led to complacency towards investments in agriculture.
o   Failure to sustain sustainable natural resources makes it impossible to provide for the world’s future food needs