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Guest Blog

Read about different aspects of the industry from a variety of perspectives.

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The spring of 2011 will be recorded as a wet and cool one for central Michigan. I spent two weeks at home in Gratiot County and heard this statement from everyone.

Our winter wheat, for instance, is at least three weeks behind its normal growth stage. As of the middle of May, most crop fields had not yet been planted. In any field potholes or depressional areas, water stands, making tillage difficult.

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During Christmas of 2010, I was assigned to Embassy Islamabad, Pakistan. I wrote four articles about the assignment there. One day about the end of December, I received a Christmas package from my wife, Sandy. In it was the book “Three Cups of Tea” written by Greg Mortenson.

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0811pd_yale_1“Warning! There is an elephant in the milk house!” Elephants are magnificent beasts, but an elephant is, nonetheless, unwelcome in the milk house. It fills all of the empty space. There is no exit wide and high enough to let it leave. So it remains.

You do not see it? Therein lies the problem; the elephant is there and it is ignored or avoided.

Dairy farming is a labor-intensive business. Proper feeding and caring of animals cannot be left to machines. It is not a pretty or easy job; it is hard, demanding and important.

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If the cattle industry received the same government support as the ethanol industry, ranchers would get generous subsidies to raise their stock, the American public would be mandated to consume certain amounts of beef and most foreign cattle would carry punitive import tariffs.

Of course this is not the case.

Ethanol is the only industry that benefits from such a triple crown of government intervention: its use is mandated by law, oil companies are paid by the federal government to use it and it is protected by tariffs.

I believe it is time to end this outdated policy that is fiscally irresponsible, environmentally unwise and makes our country more dependent on foreign oil.

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On April 14, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight and Credit, held a public hearing to review credit conditions in rural America. A number of institutions provide credit to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and rural constituents.

Members of the subcommittee heard from two panels of witnesses that provided insight into the availability of credit for producers and the potential risks. Here are excerpts of testimony presented during the hearing:

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At a recent workshop here in Washington D.C., our group had as many answers to this question as there were participants. So in this article, let me explain.

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