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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been reading some of the farmer bashing, farm program comments, and economic theories about the curren tompact of farming, taxes and hunting revenues to ND. One of the best threads I have ever been involved with came a year and a half ago when I was still on the farm in SD when the farm bill was still in formulation. You can see it here, but be prepared, the posts are novels, and you could spend a very educational afternoon reading it. One of the best internet periods I have been involved in. Here it is, heck some of you wrote in it.
http://refugeforums.com/refuge/showthre ... adid=36421

I read about people saying that access fees and leasing can be the savior of agriculture in our state, and that the present zone plan will put farmers off the land in Logan county or some other such crud. People need to realize agriculture is a much more dynamic system than that. It is an economic phenomenon that is happening in rural America right now, and it is totally divorced from single factors such as leasing. I hear people call in to Ed Shulz and say "If we just had $4.00 wheat everything would be OK" The same thing is true of leasing. Land prices, fertilizer prices, heck even standards of living all adjust to an equalibrium that always has some businesses failing. It os just going to happen. Without total socialization, ag is going to eventually acrete into the hands of modern lords and ladies, and this is likely more of a danger to wildlife than some of the other things we talk about. But more to the point it trivializes some of the things that we get so fired about. I dont want this to turn into a smash and slur contest, but I would like to have a better dialogue about the economics of the situation than we have had in the past. Does anyone care to join in???? :beer:
 

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Okay Tom, I will be the first to admit that I am extremely ignorant on farm policy. So I will pose this question to you, what are your thoughts on Hoeven's ethanol initiative. Last I heard, upwards of eight companies/plants are conducting feasibility studies. Lets say half of these go forward, what does this mean for crop conversion, land grabs, wetland loss/conversion, etc. What about consolidation?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ethano is an interesting thing. I have a relative who is a member of the American Coalition for Ethenol, so Mayhaps I am predjudiced, but I dont think so.

I think on the whole, ethanol is a really good thing, and I use it all the time. Any time we can take fuel supply into our own hands, I think it is a god thing. But anything can be taken to far. Have we erached it yet, I dont know. Everyone talks about the amount of corn ethanol "uses". It does after a fashion, but it also creates waste products besides ethanol. And those byproducts are heavy and WET. It takes energy to dry them enough so you can store them, or else you have to have fed cattle around to eat it in short order. And if all of these plants are built there will be a lot of it to feed. People want to build them in the most unlikely of places, sometimes far from the raw products.I think there is a net energy gain with ethanol though, and it undoubtedly puts REAL dollars and jobs into a local economy, plus price gain. Personally, I think the real impact is the jobs, because those jobs create some others in the community. I think dollars into farmers pockets often go right back out as fast into higher land rents, real estate, other things to outcompete there "neighbors".

Want to talk fuel developement, I thnk we in the northern plains should probably be pushing hydrogen fuel cell developement. I think there is some talk of funding reseach into cracking water into hydrogen with the electricity generated by ND wind farms. Imagine, solves the transmission problems... you only run when the wind blows. Water systems coming out of DL and Sak carrying water to hydrogen plants creating fuel for the nation with ND wind resources, ND jobs, and ND income. THAT is economic developement. Still, you know even this has an environmental cost. Not sure how long it is going to take before we start saying"Remember when you could look to the horizon and see...... nothing?"
 

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In most cases Tsodak I agree with your thoughts and insight, however on this subject of which I have done much reading of studies pro and con.

I have come to the conclusion that it is not a feasable means to do anything other than use surplus grains and will increase the loss of wetlands in the PPR. The most recent studies have came to the conclusion that in BTU production we use an equal amount of fossil fuels in the production of grains and durng the processing of products that it becomes a 1 to 1 or at best a 1.1 to 1 gain.

Some studies show that we have a gain of 1.35 to 1 when you add in the btu's from sunlight but do not include sunlight factors in creating the biomass that produce hydrocarbons[oil,natural gas etc] we are currently suing.

Cornell did an unbiased study and came to the conclusion that to meet the 5 billon gallons of ethanol that has been mandated we will need 19 millon acres of new corn at an average of 125 bu an acre for 587 years to equal the same btu output we currently have in Anwar in Alaska. Where do you think a large portion of those new acres will come from? Tiling and ditching of wetlands is where, and with it will come contamination of drinking water and depletion of aquafiers in many regions, as our wetlands are the natural filters of our water supply.

With the current Farm bill that is not funding Swampbuster enforcement and no restrictions on conversion of wetlands for qualification of farm subsidies, ethanol in it's self is the number one threat to wetlands in the midwest today.

Consider the huge amounts of water and natural gas that will be used in these plants and the current supply problems for water and natural gs in many of the proposed plant sites and the enviroment losses you cannot create energy, otherwise we would have found a solution to the perpetual motion.

I onced believed in ethanol and used it all the time but since I have become more aware of the truth I can not continue to support something this destrutive or devisive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good post Ron. As I said I may be predjudiced, and maybe for that reason I did not address those subjects really at all. I agree that we badly need to get some enforcement back behind swampbuster. For some reason the environmentalists have let this go. I wonder if it has anything to do with stunting developement around there howmetowns. Or maybe it is just natural creep in beuracracy.

I do think you have to discount the solar input into oil though. We are talkinga scale of decades not millenia. So no it is not perpetual motion, just harvest of solar energy. I have not seen a fair treatment of this thing yet. If you have one I would like to see it. Cons always discount valkues of bypproducts, pros always bypass some inputs or mess with efficiencies.

I guess the reason I support it, is because if we can keep damage to ag lands and water supplies from happening, and color me an optimist I think some of it can, then at least we are adding manufacturing jobs here in the rural areas with a product 100% created here. And better yet if we can keep some of the profits as well, instead of sending them to ADM or Cargill. I think the net effect on Ag is a complete wash. You will see just as many net auctions in the state in five years as in the past or the future without any hunting or ethanol.
 

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Ts

With the current deficets and the war on terror looking to be long term. Do you think that Washington will continue fund ethanol in the future. One only needs to look at the Garrision Diversion project to see the reality of continued long term support out of Wahington.

Ethanol will not have a market if the consummer would be paying a price that would sustain these plants. This is why I feel money going into ethanol should be going into wind development instead. Much better for the envoiroment, both in water and air quality byproducts. They do not require any new wetland loss or depletion of the aquifers. Ethanol depends on low cost grains which do not help our farmers.

Ethanol is just another vote gathering machine for elected officals from farm states. We blast FB for trying to do this with hunting, but we praise our elected officals when they do it from Washington.

I am well aware of the fact that we need farmers to be able to make money and you cannot undo overnight the probelms that goverment intervention into farming has created, but it does not make sense to increase the width of the black hole that we currently have today.

I hope that all the facts will be looked at not just the sound bites that give people that good touchy warm feeling we have heard on this issue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I have never seen a report showing what the real break even is without any governmetn support. Would be interested in that number.

You mention something that I think is going to be big in the near furture. The other morning on NPR they were talking about opening the Farm Bill back up to find funding for this new 87 billion GW wants. If that happens, it will happen fast, with little or no debate, and the conservation programs will be the ones that take it hard in the shorts.

It suprises me that some NGO is not taking the government to court for not following its own rules and enforsing some of the laws that they pass. Just long term creep I guess.
 

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Ron is PPR prairie pothole region? Sorry for the dumb question but some of the abbreviations you guys use aren't exactly household words in Ga?
 

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Yes Bob that is correct.

TS I listened to a AG show today that was talking about this to some extent. Current contracts and new enrolledlands will be hard pressed to be removed. The real stickler is that those that have been able to extend contracts or renew will be the ones that we will lose. It would not bother me much if this happened out sest, but does bother me if it becomes common practice across the dentral and northen parts of ND and SD where we raise ducks.

The pheasants will have a population drop but not as adversley as waterfowl, so I would prefer to see more retained east of the River. I doubt this will hppen as ag value is greater east and more acres per dollar can be had out west.
 

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This is kind of off the subject but if you guys want to read a good book on the future of renewable resources, the relation of grain markets and aquafers and all kinds of economics and natural resources related topics read the book Eco-Economy. I have a copy if anyone is interested. It addresses some of the questions here.
 

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I believe that ethanol plants and the increased planting of row crops in ND will cause the destruction of our grasslands and native prairie in ND. Thats when the duck population will crash hard. All one has to do is look at the effect round-up ready soybeans has had on SD grasslands and you can see what the future holds for ND.

There is NO protection for grasslands from the federal governement. Even the grasslands easement program administered by the FWS locally is now being retooled and reduced. Local FWS employees cannot conduct the paperwork it has now been shifted to regional offices taking the input out of local hands. Stupid.

The Grassland Reserve Program in this Farm Bill is a hoax. ND was allocated $700,000 for the entire state, which absically amounts to 2 easements per county. I was interested in purchasing some land so I could get it in the conservation program but was told that I had basically no chance due to the high demand and little funding.

ND Politicans and "economic development" officials (a bunch of clowns) want tourism dollers via wildlife/hunting but want to sell the end goal of ethanol plants that will cause the destruction of native grass. They are either too short-sighted or stupid or just don't care.

When the grass is gone, so will an entire ecosystem called the prairie. Instead we will have rows of soybeans/corn to look at it.

Sad.

f
 

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Fetch,

There is alot we will agree on. I still want to take a photo of you in a DU hat just so I can post it around Febuary when things get slow.

Now that I'm "retired" I have lots of time to study up on issues I feel are important. Economic Development (ED) officials are absolute clowns. Here you have a group of people whose sole job is to hand out tax breaks to "chosen" fly-by-night companies for their 18, $8 jobs to come to your town. Even better, how about the low-interest loans, grants and community develpment block grant funds doled out to telemarketing companies or other low-paying jobs. One year later they pull pitch and leave town in the dark of night. Yea, thats real economic development all right.

If they want real ED then they should take the entire BND ED budget and invest it the PLOTS program, etc. All those millions will seriously turn over $$ over time. It also plays into the theory that Tourism, BND and ED officials say every legislature that we need to "invest" for the future. Give me a break. There is very few ED projects that have created any real, long-term lasting wealth in ND. ND should stake its economic future on its natural beauty and wildlife. It will never be an economic hotbed and I don't know if its citizens really want a large, manufacturing segment and everything that comes with it.

I believe I read somewhere that a biodiesel plant is being looked at for ND. The pushers will go to the legislature and beg for $$$. Those morons will approve it, it will be built, and then go broke in 17 months.

Ethanol plants are a joke. Check out how much state $$ went into the one in Grafton over the years. Personally, I think we should have cleaner burning fuels but investing in plants in ND only encourages (indirectly) the plowing of the prairie.

I got two words for anyone who thinks these ED projects will work:

PRO-GOLD

Remember that mess?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Doing a little golden oldie reading tonight.... very interesting looking back ten years to some forecasts. Some have come true, some have wavered. Wetlands Conservation is one area that is really taking it in the shorts.
 

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Wetlands that are not owned by the feds, or have an easement will be in danger that's for sure. Drainage isn't enough now tile is going to be the big thing in North Dakota. It's not enough that they flood people, now they are going to tile and flush the pesticides down river. To many in agriculture look at wetlands and streams as we would look at a garbage truck coming to pick up our trash.
 
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