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Commentary: John Block Reports from Washington

Hello, everybody out there in farm country.  Here’s the John Block commentary.

Whenever we step into a New Year, it makes me think about past years and I try to anticipate the future. When I came back from the 101st Airborne in 1960 to our Illinois farm, our principal crop was corn – corn for pigs, cows, and chickens. By the 1970s and 1980s, the industry started processing corn into ethanol and distillers dried grain. Gas your car up and that fuel will probably be 10% ethanol, which is a huge market. The distiller’s grain is high-protein livestock feed. Turn the page to today.

The demand for our soybeans is soaring. Process the soybeans and we have soybean oil and soybean meal. There is an explosion in demand for soybean oil to give us renewable diesel fuel. With the major concern about climate change and global warming, we need to clean up the atmosphere. Renewable diesel fuel burns so much cleaner. That can clean up the atmosphere. The airplane companies can’t get enough environmentally friendly low-carbon fuel. Our refining companies have aggressively expanded the production of renewable diesel fuel – almost doubling the number of gallons in the last year.

Of course, there are other sources of clean-burning oil – cooking oil, grease, and animal fat, but they will not come close to satisfying growing demand. There are at least 17 new processing plants planned for construction. Rabobank’s study projects that after 10 years we will need to plant 12 million more soybean acres to meet demand. Where will we find acres?

Today the acres planted for soybeans and corn are nearly the same. Don’t expect that to change. Yields should go up. Can our scientists increase the oil content of soybeans in future years? Markets will tell us what to grow. Farmers are hopeful the rising demand will push our prices. Our farm industry operates as a global market. And with a growing world population, we should be optimistic about our future. Thank you to Progressive Farmer for a lot of this information.

If you would like to review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go online to www.johnblockreports.com.

The views expressed in this editorial are those of the writer and not necessarily those of sfntoday.com nor the Southern Farm Network.