This past week I was in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain states with both producers and agricultural lenders. I was with many individuals who either operate or finance large livestock operations. The biggest questions on their minds were bio-security, financial-related and economic concerns.

In an informal survey with these folks, 56 percent of ag lenders felt that hoof and mouth disease would break out in the United States within the next 12 months. In addition, 32 percent were concerned about mad cow disease occurring in that same timeframe. Producer responses were much lower, with 34 percent anticipating hoof and mouth disease and 15 percent expecting mad cow disease. Among veterinarians and consultants, the results were 47 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Many livestock producers are limiting farm visits and have strict bio-security arrangements in livestock and feed purchases. For grain producers, having a record of traceability is going to be a requirement - not an option - based upon feedback at these meetings.

Question of the Week
Back to the question on land values, I agree that they will decline with the absence of buyers. We are noticing a softening of the housing market, particularly second homes, due to the lack of potential buyers stemming from the big decline in the stock market and economy. The same could hold true for land that was purchased as an investment or as "killer toy" recreational use.

Personal Finance for Kids
More young people are attending my seminars with their parents. Finance tip of the week: If you pay your children wages, I suggest 50 percent be allowed for spending, 25 percent for educational investment and 25 percent for long term investments. Generally speaking, young people should be responsible for some of their education.

Most farms are increasing debt loads as it pertains to machinery debt, capital lea

Sports Thought
Top-NFL draft pick Michael Vick may have gone to the wrong system in Atlanta. Only time will tell. I wonder if NFL owners ever think about risk management when selecting these high-dollar picks?

Final Note
Thanks for the questions this week. Send more. I really like the challenge.

My e-mail address is:

sullylab@vt.edu

Editors note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He currently is on sabbatical and working with the Royal Bank of Canada.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures click here