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Corn+Soybean Digest

Road Trip

Last week I had a chance to be in Illinois and Oklahoma City (and yes, I did go to visit the memorial there). In Illinois, it was so neat to drive up Interstate 55 toward Bloomington with a full moon and observe all the combines in the field that were harvesting crops. The next day was even better because on my way back down Interstate 55 to St. Louis, I saw that each and every one of those combines had an American flag on them. It makes you real proud to live and work in this country and to serve agriculture.

Global Economic Trends
Before the events of September, the world economies were in a slowdown mode, if not in recession already. This was not the result of high interest rates or inflation. It was the result of over-capacity in the technology sector and high levels of consumer debt. The strong housing market allowed equity loans that spurred consumer spending. With a soft housing market and tightening of credit standards – and with the U.S. economy representing 20 to 25 percent of the world economy in recession – the ripple effect could be immense.

The stimulus package and lower rates won’t quite do it. The next wave of technology or consumer demand will be needed to spur the economy on.

Here are some points of view from the lenders, implications of 9/11.

People are asking about developing wills.

Requests for information on life insurance has increased.

Customers are more concerned about bio- and chemical security.

There are less investors purchasing farm ground and more interest from large farmers.

A Definite Stop on the Road
I was in Oklahoma City and spent some time at the memorial honoring those that lost their lives on April 19th, 1995. The famous elm tree that withstood the blast, the nurse who was killed while volunteering her efforts in the rescue and the New York City firemen who assisted in the cleanup in Oklahoma City that were killed just recently in NYC, all were very touching stories. The memorial is a "must see" for everyone.

Unexpected Visit
It never fails. Saturday afternoon I was minding my own business, feeding my heifers (including one I named Jill, after my secretary) and here comes company. My research assistant, "Barbzilla," was coming through my covered bridge with her hubby, sister and brother-in-law, their kids, and her parents. There I was in golashes, tee shirt and gym shorts! What a sight I must have been. I was able to meet her family and they got to pet the cows. I sure am glad I don’t put much stock in appearances – and hope they don’t either. The lesson here is that if you farm, you’re bound to look like a freak at times. I place high priority in getting those heifers fed, no matter what I am wearing!

Sports Perspective
The Big 12 Conference by far is the best in football, but they beat each other up! College football is much more fun to watch than pros because there are more random plays that create the element of surprise. The "Big Four" in college football are Miami, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Florida. Virginia Tech and Oregon are looking to get in the Big Four.

In the Air
The latest status of flying is that there are a lot of near empty flights. And when I do get on a plane I find that, I, as a business traveler, am seated next to Bubba and Bubba-ette. Don’t get me wrong, they are great. But if I have to hear one more time how they personally want to go and bomb the hell out of Bin Laden and his followers, I think I am going to scream.

Final Note
Next week I will be all over the Midwest again. And, I am doing a videoconference right from here in Blacksburg. So I will have all the comforts of staying at home. My customer hired a team to set up the videoconference, which meant Fed-Exing me a piece of equipment, too. All I had to do was hire a local technician to assist. Thanks, Jeremy, for helping this week with the test run. So Glenwood, Iowa, is going to get me up close and personal without me having to get on a plane. I love it!

The alternative for all of you out there who want to avoid traveling is to check with your local universities. Now-a-days, there are so many online classes that they are bound to have one or several video labs. You simply contact them to check their calendar to get your date. Then you show up and use their latest technology to beam you anywhere. They do all the coordinating with your customer. Truly the only way to fly! Or not fly?!

Play it safe when harvesting.

My e-mail address is:[email protected]

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

This online exclusive is brought to you by Soybean Digest

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