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What will the new financial regulation bill mean to rural America? The best we can tell from reading a good Wall Street Journal article on the subject, nobody knows.

The new regulations (not yet passed by the Senate) affect derivatives, and farmers use derivatives all the time to hedge the price of feed, cattle and fuel. 

“The question for these farmers is whether such rules will make hedging more expensive,” writes Michael Phillips. “Some say new requirements on big players will create higher costs for small players, including the cash dealers will have to put aside to enter into private derivatives transactions. Some brokers think restrictions on big-money banks and investors will drain the amount of money available to the everyday deals farmers favor. Others predict the opposite effect, pushing money from the private market to the exchanges and creating more competition that will benefit farmers.

That is, nobody knows, but the article explains all that.

Meanwhile, the corn is high in Iowa, too high for kids to reach to pull off the tassels. Corn in Illinois and Iowa was planted early this year and with the rains the crop has grown above 7 feet, too tall for detasseling.

“Detasseling (above) is an annual ritual for thousands of Midwestern teens,” Dan Piller writes in the Des Moines Register. “Farmers plant two varieties of seed corn in a field, and the workers remove the tassels of certain rows. That allows one line of corn to fertilize the other, producing a high-yielding hybrid, and prevents the plants from self-pollinating and ruining the hybrid line.”

Finally, as net farm income went up in 2008, government payments went down to $12.2 billion, half of what went to farmers in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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