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Articles from 2002 In April


Corn+Soybean Digest

New Biotech Resource

A new text called "Glossary of Biotechnology Terms, Third Edition" is now available from CRC Press LLC. The book, authored by Kimball Nill, technical issues director at the American Soybean Association, provides concise definitions of biotech terms. It offers up-to-date definitions in a rapidly changing area and provides familiarity with the jargon and key concerns of the biotech industry. It expands on the second version by over 30% more terms.

For additional information, log on to crcpress.com or call 800-272-7737. The book currently sells for $69.95 plus shipping and handling.

Rep. Berry: New farm bill no 'windfall'

Speaking at a press conference, Berry said that, having lost their fight to drastically reduce payments to row crop farmers, the environmental groups have opened a new propaganda campaign to try to scuttle the farm bill.

Berry was responding to a question about comments by the Environmental Working Group’s Ken Cook following the announcement of the House-Senate conference committee’s framework agreement on April 26. The bill would provide an additional $73 billion in farm payments over six years.

“Any big cotton or rice operator or super-large corn or soybean operator will now have no restraints whatsoever” under the new farm bill language,” Cook, the EWG’s president, was quoted as saying at another press conference. The EWG is the organization that has provided listings of payments to farmers on the Internet.

“It’s not a new idea that Ken Cook and I wouldn’t agree,” said Berry, who represents Arkansas’s First Congressional District. “But I don’t know how he can conclude that.

“The one thing contained in this farm bill that’s never been in another that I know of is the $2.5 million gross income means test. The language says, ‘Individuals with adjusted gross income exceeding $2.5 million averaged over the most recent 3 years will be ineligible for programs and payments to entities reduced by the proportionate share held by the high-income individual.’ That’s a situation we’ve never had before.”

Berry said the subsidy limit under current law is $460,000 per person. The new farm bill will reduce that to $360,000, a 21 percent reduction. The new rules would not take effect until 2003.

“Under the last farm bill, the limit was $40,000 for direct payments and $75,000 in loan deficiency payments or LDP’s,” he noted. “The $40,000 was absolute. If you went over the $75,000, then you could get the certificates. That’s something we had to deal with on an ad hoc basis from year to year.

For the last three years, Congress raised the limit on LDPs or marketing loan gains to $150,000 because Midwest farmers began exceeding that limit. But the actual limit under Freedom to Farm is $115,000 except for the use of generic certificates.

“This bill will be $40,000 for direct payment, $75,000 for LDPs, and $65,000 for counter-cyclical payments,” Berry said. “The counter-cyclical payment will be whichever is higher: the loan rate or the market price that will be subtracted from the target price.

“Also subtracted from the target price is the amount of the fixed payment for a specific crop with whatever’s left being the counter cyclical payment. If you have good prices, the government won’t have to spend any money. I think the limit is better than it was under the old bill.”

Berry gave an example for rice. Under the new law, the rice target price will be $10.65 per hundredweight. Market prices, as calculated by the government, have been around $3.50 and $4. The loan rate is $6.50. Subtracting the $6.50 loan rate from $10.65 would leave $4.15. Subtracting the fixed payment rate of $2.35 from $4.15 would mean a $1.80 counter cyclical payment.

Berry said he believes the new farm bill will provide about the same amount of money farmers have been receiving, but it will be more certain than the ad hoc supplemental payments that Congress has appropriated the last four years.

“Part of the problem has been that no one knew whether they were going to get the supplemental payments until after the crop was made,” he said. “It’s hard to borrow or lend money based on that. This will give producers the opportunity to know what their income is going to be.

“This won’t be a huge windfall for farmers. There won’t be a bunch of profits. The comment from the EWG that this will allow people to farm thousands and thousands of acres without restrictions isn’t right. The smaller the operation, the more you’ll benefit from this bill.”

Berry said he had been asked which party or which region won the farm bill battle in the House-Senate conference committee.

“In truth, the real winners tonight are American farmers,” he noted. “We didn’t get everything we wanted in the final agreement, and this bill is certainly not a windfall for farmers. That being said, this bill will give Arkansas farmers the safety net they need to stay in business and continue providing the safest and most bountiful food supply the world has ever known.”

A week earlier, Berry was on the losing side of a House debate over a non-binding resolution asking the House conferees to adopt the Senate’s much more restrictive Grassley-Dorgan payment limits amendment. The resolution passed, but was rejected by conferees because it was not in the House-passed farm bill.

Although the House-Senate conference framework agreement reportedly retains the three-entity rule and the use of generic certificates, Senate conferees said they accomplished what they were seeking.

“We have come down on payment limits. Make no mistake about it,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “But when you get into generic certificates, then you are talking about systems of marketing. In that regard, we did not feel that we had enough information and data to know what to do.”

Harkin said conference-committee members determined that the nation’s complex subsidy system should be simplified, and lawmakers will instruct the secretary of agriculture to set up a process that makes the system more “transparent,” “so that we will know down the road exactly who gets what from the payments.”

Berry praised the work of the House conferees.

“I can’t begin to say enough good things about House conferees on both sides of the aisle,” he noted. “Chairman Combest and ranking member Mr. Stenholm have both done outstanding jobs and have worked endlessly and tirelessly.

“Also, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi did a tremendous job. Had it not been for his work, we would still be at the table and may never have gotten a bill.”

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

New tomato disease control tool ready

"We’re trying to reduce pesticide usage wherever we can and find alternatives to traditional chemistries to meet strict customer specifications," explains Roger Scriven of The Morning Star Packing Co. in Stockton, Calif.

"California feeds the United States and the world, so processors in California are very cautious about the products we produce," Scriven continues. Residue standards are mandated by law, but individual processors often go beyond those, for example, extending the preharvest interval of some materials."

In short, customers are calling the shots.

Scriven, who has direct contact with growers as a buyer, advises growers on chemical use restrictions. This also entails keeping growers informed of new technologies.

Processing tomatoes are among the very first spring planted crops, and growers are concerned about getting a good spring plant establishment and avoiding early-season insects and disease. However, the two most popular processing tomato varieties -- 3155 and 8892 -- have no disease resistance. "There are new varieties on the horizon that have some disease resistance built in," Scriven observes. "There is also some new chemistry that helps the plant protect itself."

This includes harpin, a new biopesticide that recently received a California label to help manage bacterial speck (Pseudomonas syringae) in tomatoes. Sold under the trade name Messenger, harpin is a protein that stimulates biochemical pathways in the plant that, in turn, trigger the plant’s natural defense mechanism through specific genes.

Fend off diseases

These biochemical responses, including systemic acquired resistance, have been shown to help numerous crop plants fend off a broad spectrum of fungal, bacterial and viral diseases. It also activates the plant’s natural ability to overcome environmental stresses by increasing the rate of photosynthesis and stimulating nutrient uptake.

Unlike other materials, the harpin protein does not act directly on the target pest. Rather, it activates the innate plant genetic systems for resistance and growth. It doesn’t disrupt predatory mites or beneficial insects. It has low use rates (4.5 to 9 ounces per acre). It’s also nontoxic, leaving no detectable residue on treated crops, and it poses no threat to the environment. Fields treated with Messenger can be re-entered in four hours, and there is no preharvest interval.

The new California label includes grapes and fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Messenger had already been registered in California on strawberries.

Messenger is not recommended as a stand-alone product for disease control, but as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program that integrates fungicides and good management practices.

The idea is to alternate applications of Messenger with standard fungicides to allow growers to save their most effective materials for heaviest disease pressure. This would help reduce the pesticide load and take selection pressure off standard fungicides, avoiding or delaying resistance.

Scriven notes that the last two years have been light disease years in tomatoes. However, there was significant crop loss due to late blight and bacterial speck in 1999, and with early plantings, disease is always a threat if cool, wet weather persists. Preventive treatments with copper (for bacterial speck) are common in early-season transplants and seedlings. But the number of additional fungicide treatments needed depends on weather and type of disease pressure.

Vascular disease

Mark Richter of Richter Brothers Farms in Knights Landing, Calif., says the greatest disease pressure they’ve encountered recently has come from "a soilborne fusarium-type vascular disease." Last year, Richter Brothers cooperated in several field trials with Messenger under an experimental use label because of reports that the harpin protein benefited Florida tomato growers with this same problem.

"But even if the material provides protection against bacterial speck alone, we’d be interested in that," Richter adds. "Something like that is evidently a non-issue in terms of pesticide residues like proven fungicides, which we are trying to get away from. And since Messenger goes on early, the timing may be a factor in terms of keeping plants healthy and preventing disease development."

The first trial at Richter Brothers was conducted in four 5- by 6-foot subplots in treated and untreated blocks. The processing tomato variety was 9663, planted on 60-inch beds. Messenger was applied at a low rate of 4.5 ounces per acre in 25 gallons of water on May 31, June 13 and July 2. (No fungicides were applied.) While there was no significant disease pressure, yield measurements were nevertheless taken on Sept. 4 and showed a significant difference between treated and untreated plots.

Yields, weights

Messenger-treated plots yielded a total 100,369 pounds per acre while untreated plots yielded 84,942 pounds. Weight of red fruit was 84,760 pounds per acre in Messenger plots compared with 69,696 pounds in untreated plots. Weight of green fruit was 5,808 pounds per acre in Messenger plots, 4,719 in the untreated.

The design of the second trial was identical to the first. So were application rates and timing. In this case, yield measurements taken on Sept. 4 showed 122,222 pounds per acre in the Messenger-treated plots compared with 101,399 pounds in untreated plots. Weight of reds was 101,458 pounds per acre in Messenger plots vs. 94,743 pounds in untreated plots. Weight of greens was 17,859 pounds in Messenger plots vs. 7,841 in untreated plots.

Richter says he was surprised by these results in the absence of significant disease pressure. "Certainly, we are going to take a closer look at this. Preliminary trials last year showed us enough (in yield increases) that we’re interested in doing more replicated field trials with Messenger this year.

"There may be other factors going on out there that we don’t know about besides disease control that account for the yield differences," he continues. "In some years, prevention of bacterial speck would account for that increase. But, this year, without that much disease, it appears something else is going on.

"The bottom line is that when you have healthier plants with no disease pressure, they continue blooming and producing fruit," he points out. "That’s probably what we’re seeing, especially in the greens in the one trial. Healthier plants continue to produce and size."

Robin Ross, field development scientist for Eden Bioscience, the manufacturer of Messenger, says that these results are consistent with those from 13 large (10-acre plus) comparison trials conducted last year in Colusa, Fresno, Kern, Merced, Stanislaus, Sutter and Yolo counties. In these trials, growers applied Messenger in addition to their standard fungicide programs.

"In some cases," Ross notes, "there was little disease pressure, so growers actually ended up applying Messenger alone. In other cases, they applied Messenger with, or in rotation with, standard fungicides."

The result, she says, was a significant increase of marketable fruit in treated plots. "On a per-acre basis, the Messenger-treated plots yielded an average tonnage increase of 18 percent over the grower standard," Ross reports. "In three of these trials, in which measurements of soluble solids were also taken, there was an average 6.6 percent gain in soluble solids over the untreated plants."

Ross adds that trials conducted over the last three years in which disease pressure was significant indicate efficacy of Messenger in the reduction of early-season economic damage from bacterial speck.

Cites field trial

She cites a typical replicated field trial conducted last year in Glenn County in which Messenger was applied at a rate of 4 ounces per acre with Kocide at a rate 2 pounds per acre in 20 gallons of water. This was compared with Kocide applied alone at the same rate, and an untreated check.

"In the Glenn Country trial, the average disease incidence in the untreated plots was 30 percent; in the Kocide-treated plots 12.5 percent, and in the Messenger plus Kocide treatments, 6.3 percent," she reports.

Ross concludes that such trials indicate that "using Messenger in a tank-mix or in rotational program with standard fungicides can reduce incidence and severity of disease."

"We must be interested in new technology because the industry demands it," Scriven reiterates. "The bottom line is we have to be interested in chemistry like this because of pressure on the industry to reduce pesticide usage."

Corn+Soybean Digest

Plant Now, Fertilize Later

A wet early spring kept many tractors parked. Now, with corn planting dates bearing down on farmers, there may not be time to apply nitrogen fertilizer in advance.

Growers might be better off waiting to fertilize until later in the crop season, say Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service agronomists.

"Sidedressing of anhydrous ammonia this year might be the preferred route," said Tony Vyn, Extension cropping systems specialist.

Most years, about half the preplant anhydrous is applied by April 20, Vyn said. This year, excessive rain has made it difficult for farmers to do field work. Many fields have standing water or are too soft to support heavy equipment.

Unlike preplant applications, sidedressing is done after corn has emerged. The anhydrous is applied between the crop rows.

Sidedressing works with both conventional and no-till planting, and is best suited to well-drained soils. The in-season treatment offers no yield advantage but research suggests less nitrogen is lost to denitrification and leaching than with preplant applications, which are done typically weeks before seed goes into the ground.

"Sidedressing can commence as soon as farmers are able to see the corn rows," Vyn said. "It is, perhaps, most efficiently applied when corn is in about the V4 to V6 stage."

In V4, or vegetative stage four, the corn plant has four leaves with collars visible at the junction of the leaf base and stem. By V6, the plant has two more leaves with visible collars. Corn usually reaches the V4 to V6 growth stages in June.

Because the nitrogen is applied after corn has already begun to grow, sidedressing offers benefits preplant applications do not, said Vyn and Sylvie Brouder, Extension soil fertility specialist.

"The one advantage is the fact that you can apply somewhat lower overall rates of nitrogen compared to preplant applications," Vyn said. "Second, it allows for better fine-tuning of rates because it allows you the opportunity to take a pre-sidedress nitrate test and know just what your nitrogen requirements actually are."

Although nitrogen rates are often lower when sidedressing, corn makes better use of the fertilizer, Brouder said.

"If you're applying the nitrogen as a sidedress, your application will be more efficient because the nitrogen is applied closer to the time of crop need and less is lost prior to the time the crop needs the nitrogen," Brouder said. "A sidedress application will normally be equally effective at providing nitrogen to corn even when total nitrogen rates are reduced by 10 percent relative to a preplant application."

A soil nitrate test can help farmers with fields high in organic matter or a history of manure application better target how much sidedress nitrogen they'll need, if any. Farmers should collect 20-25 soil core samples at random places in a field. The samples should be air-dried and then sent to a competent soil testing lab for analysis.

"The pre-sidedress nitrate test is best done by waiting until the corn is at least 6 inches tall," Vyn said. "You should receive the results back from the lab within a matter of days and then adjust your nitrogen fertilizer rate accordingly."

While applying nitrogen fertilizer as a sidedress appears a viable option this year, potential problems can develop, Vyn said. Should the weather be uncooperative when corn reaches the ideal stage for sidedress, it may be impossible to apply the nitrogen before the crop grows too tall, he said.

Also, many farmers are squeezed for time from late May to mid-June between applying herbicides and harvesting forage, he said.

Additional information about sidedressing and nitrogen fertilizers is available in these Purdue Extension publications:

"Nitrogen Decision$ 2001: The Soil Fertility Perspective," by Brouder, Vyn and Purdue agronomists Brad Joern and Bob Nielsen. It can be downloaded online at agry.purdue.edu/ext/pubs/agry0101.pdf.

"Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat and Alfalfa," Extension publication AY-9-32. It may be downloaded online at agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/AY/AY-9-32.pdf

"Using the Pre-sidedress Nitrate Soil Test to Predict N Needs for Corn," Extension publication Agry 96-09, by former Purdue agronomist Dave Mengel. To read the publication online, log on to: agry.purdue.edu/ext/corn/pubs/agry9609.htm.e

Corn+Soybean Digest

Soils, herbicides not always made for each other

Throw herbicides and soils together and they'll develop chemistry between them. If the two hit it off, a crop won't compete with weeds. Should they fail to get along, the unwanted vegetation may take over -- or worse.

Before playing matchmaker, farmers should know the type of soil they're planting in and how a herbicide reacts to the soil's properties, said Glenn Nice, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service weed specialist.

Many factors determine whether herbicides and soils are meant for each other. Soil types and pH levels, a herbicide's molecular makeup, herbicide release mechanisms, environmental conditions and the living organisms within the dirt all must be considered, Nice said.

"You're dealing with an extremely variable environment," he said. "Soils are very variable, and they can be different from one end of the field to the next. Added, and compounded, to that is you're dealing with several different types of molecules in these herbicides. And then to make it even more complicated, you're faced with a multitude of environmental conditions.

"There are so many things that come into play."

Indiana is home a wide array of soils, ranging from grainy silts and sands, to coarser loams, to heavy mucks and clays. Herbicides aren't made for use on all soil types but certain soils are more forgiving with chemical weed-killers than others, Nice said.

A good example is atrazine, a common corn herbicide. Atrazine should not be used on coarse soils because the herbicide retains its potency in moisture and is prone to move with water, a phenomenon known as leaching. Leaching can cause high levels of herbicide to collect in one place, damaging crops or contaminating groundwater.

"You may see herbicides reacting differently in different soils," Nice said. "In most cases, the need for concern will revolve around heavy muck or sand soils. Something in between -- your loams and medium loams -- generally don't have as many product restrictions because these herbicides are developed for general-type soils."

Soil pH -- the measure of its acidity and alkalinity -- has a direct impact on herbicide effectiveness. The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. The optimum pH values for crop production lie between 5 and 7.

"The pH affects all the processes that affect herbicide activity in the soil," Nice said.

"Take, for instance, the ALS (acetolactate synthase) class of herbicides -- chlorimuron, and others. If the soil pH is above 7.4 it decreases a process called hydrolysis. Hydrolysis breaks the herbicide down. If you decrease hydrolysis you increase the ability of that herbicide to persist, thus possibly leading to carryover and crop injury the following year."

Just as soil conditions can create harmful herbicide reactions, so, too, the interaction may render the chemical application ineffective. Through processes called adsorption and absorption, the herbicide can be prevented from reaching the weeds it is intended to eliminate.

"Adsorption and absorption can sometimes be confusing. However, they're two totally different processes," Nice said. "Adsorption -- with a 'd' -- is the process in which the herbicide molecule binds to the surface of the soil particles. Absorption -- with a 'b' -- is the taking in of the herbicide molecules by living organisms -- a plant, for instance, absorbing it into the roots."

Both adsorption and absorption release the herbicide. The herbicide releases -- desorption -- may provide residual benefits but also could cause the product to carry over into the next crop season.

Farmers who have questions about whether a herbicide is right for a field should check product labels before applying.

"Most product labels will guide farmers on which herbicides to use on which soils," Nice said.

For more information on soil and herbicide interaction, including pH influences on specific products, read "Soil, So What?" by Nice and fellow Purdue weed specialist Thomas Bauman. The paper appeared in a recent issue of Purdue's Pest & Crop Newsletter. The newsletter is available online at entm.purdue.edu/entomology/ext/targets/p&c/P&C2002/P&C42002.pdf.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Brock Online Notes

Argentina Promises 2003 Export Tax Cut.

Argentina’s government has promised farmers it will not further raise export taxes on grains, oilseeds, vegetable oils and vegetable meals, and that it will reduce them in 2003, a farm group chief said Friday. President Eduardo Duhalde met with farmers to discuss their concerns about the taxes and other economic measures.

A television network reported earlier in the week that Argentina planned to increase export taxes on grain, oilseeds and their derivatives another 10 percentage points to between 30% and 33.5%, as part of a new economic program.

Despite the promise of lower export taxes, Argentine farm groups said they planned to go ahead with a strike starting Sunday. Thousands of Argentine farmers are likely to join in the eight-day strike to protest economic policies, further disrupting local grain trade there, an industry official told Reuters News Service.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.

Members of the Argentine Rural Confederations (CRA) and the Argentine Agriculture Federation (FAA), two of the country’s largest farm groups, plan to halt sales of grain, oilseeds and livestock.

Corn+Soybean Digest

At last! Farm bill deal in reach

WASHINGTON – After two years of marathon hearings, testy floor fights and extremely intense negotiating sessions, few would have blamed Reps. Larry Combest and Charlie Stenholm for indulging in a round of self-congratulations when they announced a tentative agreement for a new farm bill Friday.

Instead, Combest, the chairman of the House-Senate farm bill conference committee, seemed to sum up his and Stenholm’s low-key, self-effacing approach that finally prevailed over Senate efforts to turn the farm bill into a political issue with this comment to reporters: "I’ll tell you who wins – the American farmer."

While details of the agreement were sketchy – House-Senate conferees were waiting for the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scoring of the compromise provisions – it appears that farmers, and especially row crop farmers, were the winners in the battle of wills over the farm bill.

Farm organizations paid tribute to Combest, chairman of the conference committee and the House Agriculture Committee, and Stenholm, the Ag Committee’s ranking minority member, for their wise, persistent guiding of the farm bill compromise.

"Mr. Combest and Mr. Stenholm are the ones who made this happen," said the executive director of one association. "Many people would have thrown up their hands and walked out for good weeks ago."

For soybeans, the loan rate would be set at $5.03 per bushel in 2002 and 2003, but would drop to $4.96 per bushel in 2004 through 2007 or the remaining life of the six-year farm bill. Soybean growers would receive an AMTA payment of 45 cents per bushel and a target price of $5.82.

The corn loan rate, which proved to be one of the most contentious issues of the conference, would be set at $1.98 per bushel in 2002 and 2003 and $1.95 for the remaining four years. The fixed payment for corn would be 30 cents per bushel and the target price $2.64 per bushel.

Midwest senators, led by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Ag Committee, had been pushing for a $2.02 corn loan rate. But, faced with the prospect of a collapse of the farm bill negotiations, they reportedly caved in to the pressure from House conferees for loan rates closer to House bill.

The conference agreement provision reportedly reduces the total limit on benefits to $360,000 per year, compared to $550,000 in the House bill and $275,000 in the Senate’s Grassley-Dorgan amendment. But it also retains the three-entity rule and allows producers to continue the use of generic certificates when they exceed the new limit on marketing loan gains.

The new limits would be set at $40,000 per person for fixed payments, $65,000 per person for counter-cyclical payments and $75,000 per person for marketing loan gains. It includes separate limits for peanuts.

The new language also imposes a $2.5 million adjusted gross income test.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Argentina Promises 2003 Export Tax Cut

Head: Argentina Promises 2003 Export Tax Cut

Argentina’s government has promised farmers it will not further raise export taxes on grains, oilseeds, vegetable oils and vegetable meals, and that it will reduce them in 2003, a farm group chief said Friday. President Eduardo Duhalde met with farmers to discuss their concerns about the taxes and other economic measures.

A television network reported earlier in the week that Argentina planned to increase export taxes on grain, oilseeds and their derivatives another 10 percentage points to between 30% and 33.5%, as part of a new economic program.

Despite the promise of lower export taxes, Argentine farm groups said they planned to go ahead with a strike starting Sunday. Thousands of Argentine farmers are likely to join in the eight-day strike to protest economic policies, further disrupting local grain trade there, an industry official told Reuters News Service.

Members of the Argentine Rural Confederations (CRA) and the Argentine Agriculture Federation (FAA), two of the country’s largest farm groups, plan to halt sales of grain, oilseeds and livestock.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.

Corn+Soybean Digest

Fly the Ugly Skies

Fly the Ugly Skies

I have nothing against children and older folks, but they are all that appear to be flying these days. While sitting on the runway for three hours in Kansas City, I did a survey of 10 passengers near my coach seat. Ticket prices to the same destination varied by $750. The poor businessperson is taking the brunt of the cost.

Wow!

In my seminars I am observing more elderly people who own farms and ranches sliding deeper in debt.

According to USA Today, 18% of people between age 65 and 74 have debts greater than 40% of their income. This percentage has doubled since 1989! If you or your loved ones are above 75 years of age, the statistic is 23%, up from 13% in 1989.

Reasons

Many are becoming tapped out because of medical bills, prescription drugs, lifestyle choices, and, yes, gambling!

It is amazing when I do seminars in the Midwest, near Vegas and Reno, that at least 50% of people at casinos are over 65!

Historically, this group had a high MPS, a big term in economics for marginal propensity to save. Now they have a high MPC, or marginal propensity to consume. Much is being put on plastic – credit cards.

Bankruptcy is up 244% since 1991 for Americans over age 65!

Average debt per household has increased 264% since 1992. The largest increases are in credit card debt, mortgages on houses, and vehicle loans.

Just think; many in this age group own the ground you are farming!

Advice on college loans

Wait until after July 1 to consolidate. Rates could be about 4%!

This column slammed the airlines as well as the older and younger generations. I guess next will be the boomers!

Be careful in Spring’s work!

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

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.

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