Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Day 2 Farm Progress Show

Day 2 of Farm Progress continued with extremely hot weather, but the crowd was outstanding. Wednesday is always the biggest day and this seemed to be no exception. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns made an appearance at the show and was the guest of Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong at the ADM tent.

Secretary Johanns continued his push for the administrations version of the farm bill and took aim at the House version of the bill which higher loan rates and target prices.

Agwired has full coverage as well as some interviews with the Secretary.

Coverage from

During the show today, Secretary Johanns said he was confident that Congress could have a Farm Bill ready for the president to sign into law before the end of the year, but the Senate first would have to make some "improvements" over the House version.

The Bush administration originally had proposed a $200,000 income cap per household to receive farm program payments.

Johanns said the Senate version would have to come a lot closer to that number than the House's $2 million figure before he could recommend that President Bush sign it.

From the Southern Illinoisan:

"We've got to do something more robust on payment limits," Johanns told about 150 farmers and others gathered in 90-degree heat at the annual trade show. He estimated that about 7,000 farms would be affected by the $1 million threshold _ leaving far too many on the rolls, in his view.

Bob Stallman, president of one of the largest farm lobby groups and an opponent of limits on government payments, watched Johanns from the back of the crowd.

"We believe farm policy should support agricultural production and not some subjective and social goals," Stallman, a Texas rice farmer and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said after the appearance.

Limiting subsidies is a nice idea, he said, as long as farmers in Europe and elsewhere also are willing to live without government support.

Vendors are also making an all out pitch to get potential customers in their booth, from the Champaign News-Gazette:

DECATUR – Vendors use all kinds of gimmicks to lure farmers who love power to their exhibits at the Farm Progress Show.

Gimmicks like the 1981 DeLorean parked at the Liberty Renewable Fuels display. And the 1968 Aston-Martin that's soon going to be racing around the world. And at the same display, a souped-up Chevy truck with a Corvette engine that attracts the young crowd, said David Skjaerlund, a Liberty representative who came to talk to potential investors in the Michigan plant now under construction.

"They're powered on E85," Skjaerlund said of the fuel that's 85 percent ethanol made from corn. "The Aston Martin just finished the Great American Race across the country."

"It's eye candy," said Tad Whitten of the DeLorean, which belongs to a friend. "It's there to tell the rest of the 1933 story. The first ethanol fuel was sold in Lincoln, Nebraska, that year, and these cars are parked at a replica of that station.

"The cars help farmers relate to this story better," Whitten said. "Ethanol didn't survive the '30s or the '70s, but now it's back and it's making it. We can grow fuel as well as food. These cars represent the future."

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