Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bizarre January Weather

Freak Tornadoes, Flooding and High Temperatures

Tornadoes ripped through parts of Wisconsin late yesterday afternoon and into the evening, hitting Kinosha County hardest, particularly near Wheatland. (see news here)

By comparison, we were pretty lucky. Although road flooding caused a 2-hour school delay this morning -- the kids first day back after the holiday break -- there's little damage here. (thankfully)

We hit record highs for January temperatures thus far... and the last time tornadoes appeared in Wisconsin in January was way back in 1844. So the year 2008 is definitely starting out with bizarre weather patterns.

In Other Wisconsin News

Speaking of Wisconsin, not sure if you saw this Op-Ed piece by guest columnist, Mark A. Kastel, regarding factory farming in the Wisconsin "Capitol Times" -- it's worth reading, written from the family farmers' point of view. Here's a small excerpt:
The result of this trend has been the loss of thousands of family businesses that were healthy and integral parts of their rural communities. They have been replaced by "farms" milking hundreds or thousands of cows, in confinement conditions, most milk cows never being let out of the giant barns -- barns that have been constructed with the help of state and federal loans and grants.

This public money has shifted dairy production in our state, and in many others, to a model that has become a grave ecological threat to air and water quality by concentrating the manure equivalent of a small city on one industrial site. Wisconsin has experienced a rash of serious groundwater and surface water catastrophes from major-league manure spills over the last decade. And our tax money has been used to create employment for an exploited class of immigrant worker instead of family-supporting jobs for our new residents or existing Wisconsinites.

In monitoring the press around the country, as one of the leading organic industry watchdogs and family farm advocates, we rarely respond to the agribusiness frontmen extolling the virtues of industrial food production. Most of these articles appear in the industry's trade publications. But when they appear in the pages of The Capital Times, there is a disconnect we no longer feel can go unanswered.
Three cheers to Mark for a well-written piece!

No More Living High on the Hog

Interestingly enough, in reference to the economic side of things for farming in general, not sure if you heard about the grim outlook for hog farming in 2008 and early parts of 2009.

Perdue University came out with some numbers that paint a grim forecast. They strongly urge cutbacks in production. Here's a quote regarding the 2008 economic picture:
"The year appears to be very bleak for hog producers in general. There will be too large of supply for most of the year and costs from feed are very high. Losses of about $30 per head for farrow-to-finish operations are expected in the early part of the year. Then maybe $10 to $15 per head of losses in the spring and summer quarters, and $15 to $20 per head of losses for the last quarter of 2008." Chris Hurt, Purdue University
The Pork Industry is hoping China's increase in demand might compensate, but an interesting article here tells most money market watchers to not expect much from China in the short term ahead. Not sure if it will affect the pork industry, but might have an impact on other areas.

But the point is, for a small family farm the news for pork could be grim -- but it could possibly be a whole lot worse for a factory farm. The surplus hogs would tend to pile up a whole lot faster in an assembly line setting pushing those huge losses through the roof in a very short period of time.

The big Mitch Daniels pork-push might turn into some tough breaks for this State.

SIDENOTE: Note the interesting info on the President's "Plunge Protection Team" in the last article referenced above. Makes you wonder where all our tax dollars really are going these days. Surely not into the stock markets?

The Juggling Act

And now for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. Watching the news, whether it be politics, business, economy, weather... seems everything is turning into a juggling act. So, here's a video clip that might brighten your mood. Make sure you have your sound turned up. Then sit back and enjoy. Be sure to watch it all the way through to appreciate the big finale. Click to watch video now.


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