Contrary to some notions, “livestock producers are not opposed to ethanol. But we are strongly opposed to ethanol subsidies.”

The renewable fuel standard (RFS) has put from 40 percent to 45 percent of the U.S. corn crop into ethanol production. “RFS has to go away,” he said. “We’re not holding our breath on the waiver (requested by several governors in light of the anticipated short corn crop and higher corn prices). We could see $12 corn, especially considering the positive basis in our area.”

The dried distillers grain (DDG) that comes out of the ethanol production process “is welcome but not the same as corn.”

Wilson is also concerned about livestock and other commodities sending the proper message and on a timely basis to consumers. He mentioned the furor over lean, finely textured beef, branded “pink slime” that damaged the industry. “We lost that message opportunity,” he said. “We need to make sure that society understands our message.”

Even though the beef industry does not want a title of its own in the next farm bill, “we appreciate the needs of the crop sector.”

The country of origin label (COOL) issue “needs some changes in the language included in the statute,” Wilson said.

He remains positive about agriculture. “We believe the future is bright for agriculture, animal and crop. We just need to make sure we handle message problems.”

Others commented on the RFS waiver issue. Pringle said he doesn’t expect the waiver to be granted. “Both presidential candidates have expressed support for the current standard.”

An audience member asked about the ACRE program, an unpopular option in the current farm program. “No one wants it,” he said. “Why is no one listening to farmers?”

Vaughan said producers voted on what kind of program they wanted when they signed up for the 2008 farm bill options.

“Now, (Congress) needs to provide price protection for producers. We want that built into the farm bill. We need options for risk protection. Producers will choose, and we will then see how it all falls out.”

The panelists represented a fairly broad spectrum of commodities and all brought unique outlooks to the discussion. A good crop insurance program was a common need as was a strong conviction that Congress needs to act quickly to pass a bill.

Other observers noted that time is running out for Congress to pass a bill before the election and that a lame duck session might be the next best opportunity.

rsmith@farmpress.com