Message from the Owner

Stan & Jean Potratz, Owners

Grr! How Government Agricultural Policies Affect Us All

I suspect that many share my views that the less govt. in our lives the better. I was again reminded how unrealistic my view is during Premier's UK sheep tour in early June.

What's uppermost in the mind of British sheep producers? Govt. policies. Why? For decades the British livestock producers received an annual "headage" payment. Officials counted the ewes and cows on your property and paid a cash subsidy accordingly. For many producers the govt. "headage" check amounted to 20-40% of their gross income.

Two years ago the govt. subsidy was disconnected from the number of ewes or cows. That's a huge change of and by itself. But, and this is vital to understand, UK govt. farm payments are also declining each year. They're scheduled to disappear altogether in 5 years. So over 50% of the UK's livestock producers will soon be farming "in the red." The hills of Wales, Scotland and England, synonymous with sheep for 200 years, may become largely "sheepless."

A US example: when the US govt. suddenly terminated the wool subsidy, US mohair and fine wool producers confronted a similar "change or die" reality. The result: Very few Angora goats, fewer fine wool ewes and far more meat goats than were there in 1990.

And other US govt. policies (past, present and future) are key forces in shaping US agriculture as it is today. Consider:

  1. Decades of generous crop subsidies encouraged farmers to produce very large crops of corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, rice, etc.
  2. John Deere®, Monsanto®, and Pioneer®, to name just a few, responded wisely-and profited accordingly.
  3. The resultant cheap grain made producing pork and poultry profitable. So they expanded—and expanded some more.
  4. Cheap grain also made US corn-fed beef (and the industrial-scale feedlots of the High Plains) what it is/they are. (It pains me, as a long-term supporter of beef and lamb from grass, to admit that corn-fed USA beef does offer an excellent eating experience.)
  5. A few years ago Archer Daniel Midlands®, with help from others, persuaded the US govt. to provide a 51¢/gal. ethanol subsidy. That, combined with $60/barrel oil and cheap grain, created a "biofuel mania."
  6. Now one subsidy (for ethanol) is dominating the others. Grain is no longer cheap. As result, pork, poultry and cattle feedlots are no longer the dependable profit sources they once were. It's change or perish.

And what's the response of the US govt.? Even greater subsidies and mandates for ethanol. While applauding the profits it offers crop farmers, I consider this to be absurd national policy. Why? Because most experts admit that corn ethanol is not a useful long-term national solution for reducing our dependence on oil. A carbon or Btu tax would be much more effective.

Many suggest that biomass ethanol is the answer to our oil dependence. But is it really? A recent article in Foreign Affairs noted that it would require a semi-load of switchgrass every 6 minutes 24 hrs. a day to feed a typical ethanol plant. That's not realistic. When I lived in England some tried to produce electricity using baled straw as a fuel source instead of coal, oil, or natural gas. (Straw was being burned in the fields at the time so was free for the taking.) The effort failed because it was not practical to haul so much biomass to one point.

And yet encouraging biomass ethanol appears to be one thing upon which both Congress and the President agree. What is it about officials and leaders that enables them to overlook basic realities?

by Stan Potratz

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Special Price from Premier!

Premier's Woven Wire Clamp

$73 (was $89)

Premier's Woven Wire Clamp is now galvanized to extend life! Neatest tool for this type of work we have ever used. The "wedges" clamp the line wires by tapping them in (and out) with a hammer. Very robust (would be hard to destroy).

To Order:
Phone: 800-282-6631 - Use Code: News 25

Website: - Use Code News 25IT
Enter News 25IT in the "Catalog Source Code" box on the "Checkout-Confirm & Submit" screen. Note: The promo. code on our website will not work for this, so please enter the code. The original price will be shown on your website order. We will adjust it to the sale price when received.

Offer good through July 31, 2007.

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Premier VIP

Horse Hay Facts

by Jayne Pedigo on

Click here to view the article.

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Premier Tip

Trailer Tips

Before you get ready to hit the road this summer no matter what type of animals you will be hauling consider these trailer tips.

  • Remove any sharp objects from the trailer (inside and out).
  • Check the floor boards to make sure they are not rotted.
  • Tires need to have correct pressure.
  • Check wheel lug nuts and bolts.
  • Light and brake systems need to be checked before the trip to ensure that they are working properly and give you enough time to fix them if need be.
  • Understand how the hitch works.
  • Have heavy safety chains attached.
  • If new to pulling a trailer, practice before the trip—empty first, then loaded.
  • Make sure gates/dividers are secure.
  • Double check all doors/gates/windows to make sure they are all properly latched.
  • Flooring should not be slippery. Grooves in the floor and rubber mats help prevent this as does wood shavings or straw.

by Premier's employee Mandy Farrier

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Premier Employee Spotlight

Ellis Leichty

This month's featured employee makes all of us at Premier feel old. Ellis Leichty is his name, and he is 80 years young. We all hope that when we are 80, we can get around and do half the things that Ellis does. He has been with Premier for 5.5 years and resides in Wayland, IA. A retired farmer, he came to Premier as Ellis says, "as a jack of all trades." He is our go to guy for production and assembly. He also helps with repairs and sharpening.

He says the best thing about his position is "doing different things each day and the joy of seeing the business grow and to learn about the new products being offered." What Ellis likes best about Premier "is the friendly atmosphere and being able to work with and get to know many different people."

Ellis enjoys volunteering where needed and thoroughly enjoys helping his son on the farm. He also spends time with his other 3 children and their families which include 9 grandchildren, 1 great-granddaughter, 2 grandson-in-laws and 1 granddaughter-in-law. Ellis's wife passed away 4 1/2 years ago, but on his own he continues to be very active and involved with many different activities and his church.

His favorite statement to his grandchildren is "to make Jesus number one in their lives. Remember that no one has ever been disappointed after putting trust in Him."

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Puppy Chow Pie


1 baked pie shell or graham cracker crust
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbs. peanut butter
2 tbs. margarine
5 cups vanilla ice-cream

Mix and stir chips, peanut butter and margarine in small pan over low heat until melted. Stir constantly. Set this mixture aside to cool to room temperature. Set about 5 cups vanilla ice cream out of freezer until you can stir it with spoon and mix in the chocolate mixture. It will not fully mix in, it sort of marbles.

Spoon into pie shell and freeze for 2 hours. When ready to serve, take out of freezer 5 minutes before serving.

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