The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings to everyone in western Illinois and surround'n areas.
It's rain'n right now as I'm a putt'n this column together. Let's hope it keeps it up fer a spell to help the soybean crop.
Some sez it's too late to help the corn crop, but a feller really never knows fer shore. There might be some fields that the rain will put on a little more test weight. Test weight=yield.
I see where Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed legislation that would have forced Illinois natural gas utilities to buy synthetic gas from a proposed plant on Chicago's south side.
It would have forced Nicor Gas and Ameren Corp. customers to buy synthetic natural gas from the Leucadia Corp. gasification plant fer 30 years to help pay fer its construction and assure the corp. a profit. Chicago area was exempted from the tax even though it was to benefit from jobs, taxes on the plant, and location of the plant.
The plant site was proposed on the city's southeast side at the polluted site of a former steel mill. Clean up of that site would also be billed to downstate gas users.
Thank goodness Gov. Quinn had the wisdom to recognize the harmful economic affects the additional burden would have on school districts, local government bodies, businesses, home owners and farmers. Unfortunately, the legislative body was pay'n political gamemanship on that one. Gov. Quinn recognized it and did the right thing.
I contacted Dessa R. to find out fer the boys, how to get a hold of the CEO of Big River Resources. I thought she wrote the column on him in the August 1st Quill. It turns out she did not write that article on Big Rivers CEO and that it was written by Miriam Rutzen of Blandinsville. It was one of a series of articles she is a write'n on Adventures in Leadership fer our area.
Dessa was able however, to give me a contact number to reach him by cell phone. In call'n him I tried several times and each time he was in a different state. I dialed him whilst he was in Vancouver, Washington; Omaha, Nebraska; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Hubbard, Newton and St. Ansgar, Iowa; and Annawan, Henry, and Galva, Illinois.
Finally, I spotted him over in Hamilton at the Western Illinois Threshers, two weekends ago. He's not hard to detect with his suspenders, one arm, and beard. To my surprise he was a drive'n a Harley. "Yikes!" I'm a hope'n that ethanol plant has a reserve back-up plan fer him just in case someone smacks him, or if'n he runs into a deer.
He did say, however, he didn't feel it was anymore dangerous than them two planes he has flown.
Anyways, the boys and I wanted to know if'n his plant was a gonna shut down because of the drought and high priced corn. His reply was quite enterest'n. He was eager to discuss and promote farmer "value added" and the positive affect it has on our communities.
He sez he has farmed fer 50 years along with other endeavors, at the same time. This has taught him how to survive when the go'n is tough and margins are thin. Noth'n compares to ethanol, dure'n those 50 years, as far as the good value it has given our rural communities!
He sez you've got to be able to take a solid kick to the jaws and smile with whatever snagle teeth ya has left. It's a gonna happen from time to time whether ya likes it or not, that's the nature of farm'n. If'n ya cain't do that then ya better get yourself a job in town with a good lunch bucket.
As fer close'n down, he sez it's not in their plans. They are a cover'n expenses and have accumulated a positive cash flow to date.
He sez they are yet buy'n old crop corn, however, last week they did get their first delivery of new crop corn. As fer the drought cause'n high prices on old crop, the speculators play a part in volatility of prices. Big River hedges to protect against such gyrations.
He sez the Smithfield hog corp. with a Mr. Pope at its helm, gambled on a big crop last spring with corresponding low prices. They lost the bet!
Now they wants the corn farmer to suffer the loss and poor judgment in trust'n USDA's artificial predictions.
Smithfield knows their production ahead of time and could have locked in good margins with hedges last spring.
Mr. Pope who runs Smithfield had an annual salary of $13 million and his greed demands more. Folks like him has pretty much put the small livestock farmer out of business in many parts of the country. Now he advocates the same negative results for the grain farmer and the rural communities he resides in.
With the lower yields associated with a drought, the farmer needs better prices to make up the difference fer positive cash flow. Smithfield is against that, it seems.
He sez there are local livestock folk and then there's mega corporation livestock folk. Two separate entities, or ya might say breeds of cat, with two separate goals and business plans. The local livestock folk are the grain farmers friend and is often times both livestock and grain seller.
The mega corporation often don't give a hang about local communities, it seems, and advocates policies which would turn grain farmers into servants to big corporations and would ultimately become subsistent workers to outside ownership.
He sez in 1970 a major tractor cost $11,000, land sold fer around $500-$700 per acre, teachers salaries were around $5,000 per 9 mos. contract, health care and liven expenses along with farmer inputs were at much lower levels also.
Corn was sell'n fer around $1/bu. and the government loan was right at $1.05/bu. In 1969 he sold corn fer $.95/bu.
Now, 42 years later, corn is around $8./bu. or 8 times the 1970 price. Ya cannot buy a tractor of adequate size fer $88,000 (8 x $11,000), teachers salaries, health care, live'n expenses and farmer inputs are a cost'n more than 8 times more as well. Ya can't buy land for $4,000-$4,200/acre!
So, he sez, with the drought limit'n yield much lower than 1970 production levels, why would anyone feel $8 corn is too high?
If'n next years crop materializes with rain and good weather, everyone, include'n the mega livestock and poultry producers, will probably get their chance to steal the grain farmers crop at below the cost of production levels.
Even with the drought this year, USDA is predict'n the 8th largest corn crop in the history of our nation!
He sez the local ethanol plant, and other farmer owned plants like it, are the only end users that are not try'n to use tricks and gimmicks as well as government policy to beat corn prices down. No bones about it!
Farmers, include'n a large number of investors from western Illinois, built up ethanol and put a plant in our area to lift and support grain prices.
A rise'n tide lifts all ships. When corn prices are high they make more profits on corn. When they are low, they make more profits on ethanol. It's a two way street.
Well, he had a lot more useful information that he shared with the boys and I. We missed the better part of the parade two weeks ago as he was a answer'n our questions, which we was a hammer'n on him one right after another.
Maybe in another column I'll share more of the positive affects of ethanol he told us about and how the greedy antagonist against the grain farmer are a work'n so hard to take away his hard fought fer profits and transfer them back into their corporate bank accounts in some other community. Too bad fer our local communities and their welfare if'n that happens. School districts, service clubs, churches, banks, etc, etc, will all suffer if'n they lose local capital-the lifeblood of all communities.
If'n ya see's that Big River Resources CEO sometime, jump him fer some answers to your questions. He seems enthusiastically open to the discussion and visit'n.
Keep your attitude positive and try'n make someone's day the better fer have'n crossed your path. See you'ns in church come Sunday morn'n .
Keep on Smile'n
Catch ya Later