Two Tales of Agriculture
This past week I had the opportunity to serve on a task force examining the future structure of agriculture with a secondary objective of providing impact on the Farm Bill.

Agriculture appears to be at a crossroads with two emerging segments. The first will be very commodity based, producing for the larger domestic and international markets. The laws of the business jungle i.e. low cost, large efficient operations will be critical for success.

The second sector will be producer and service oriented meeting the needs of domestic and some international niche markets.

Unfortunately discussions on the Farm Bill are primarily focused on the first segment. The second emerging sector will be addressed in subsequent farm bills later in the 2005 to 2010 era. This will be an opportunity missed. As usual farm policy sometimes is reactive rather than proactive.

The Economy
Our general economy is now in a growth recession. That is, it doesn’t meet the official definition of a recession i.e. two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, and certain sectors like manufacturing and trucking are in decline.

The housing market’s strength is carrying the consumption economy, which drives 65 percent of GDP. If housing values increase, people have a tendency to spend 4 cents more because of the wealth effect.

Perspective on Air Travel
Flying today is like being in a day care center or senior citizen home because that is the demographic makeup of the travelers. The business traveler like myself is disappearing and exploring other modes of delivery such as teleconferencing and the Internet. The airlines are now becoming like the bus company of 30 years ago. I like teleconferencing but I would rather be able to reach out and touch somebody!

Ticketing is a farce. Instead of calling it a reservation why don’t they call it a flight request. And forget about seat assignments. They encourage you to book on line but then they ignore your requests and put you where they want you. Ask my research assistant (Barbzilla, but that is another story). She is going to Wisconsin soon and she won’t even get to sit next to her husband!

Sports Perspective
It is fun to see Mark McGwire of the Cardinals back. He is one guy I would pay to see play! My friend, Dr. Alex White at Virginia Tech told me that Barry Bonds wouldn’t hit 70 home runs because he would become injured. The very next day Barry hurt his wrist. This is my networking!

Next week – going home!

Final Note July 4th is here with lots of family picnics. Have fun. But keep writing to me!

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

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