Chad Blindauer doesn’t think long about his issue priorities. “2012 showed us what can happen in a dry year,” Blindauer told Brownfield Ag News, at Commodity Classic. “We really do need to maintain crop insurance.” Blindauer, a Mitchell, South Dakota farmer, presides over the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. “One of our main priorities is to keep [crop insurance] intact if we can.”
“One of our biggest concerns is water quality,” said Bruce Schmoll, president of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association. Schmoll, attending Commodity Classic, points out that Minnesota is one of the states doing a voluntary water certification program. “Collectively, we hope we can get enough people to do that that it’ll improve the water quality in our state,” he told Brownfield Ag News. If it works out, he says it might set a standard for other states.
When Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy decided he wanted to farm in 2006 – it wasn’t because it was his legacy. “I bought it for an investment purpose,” he says. “It was land that was not very well coveted in the community – but it was a farm that I wanted to purchase, so I did. Then I needed the farming to help pay for the land. That’s how it all began.”
Because Dowdy doesn’t have a farm background – he had to learn on his own – which wasn’t always easy. “When I got started and was a newcomer, farmers in that area had been growing corn in that area had been successful and they were willing to talk to me and that’s great,” he says. “But when I came to these venues and talked to national growers and national yield winners – most didn’t want to tell you anything.”
And for that reason Dowdy says he wanted to pay it forward. “Because those growers helped me in the beginning and those university people that I talked to that were willing to help me – I said ‘I will not be like the people who will not talk’,” he says. “If I ever have success I will pay it forward. That is my way.”
The impending sequester was a big topic of conversation during Commodity Classic this week. In remarks made by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s news conference on Friday – he said USDA is preparing for cuts.
But, he says, “Honestly – instead of writing letters it would be helpful if Congress would write a bill and get it passed. It’s in their hands to solve this. We have to implement the process they created, they passed, and they approved.”
Vilsack says USDA is trying to make the cuts as equitable as possible. “When you’ve got a situation when you’ve made some payments in a program and others are yet to receive their payment – does the sequester mandate only apply to monies yet to go out or does it apply to those monies that have gone out and you need to recoup,” he says. “Or are there other ways you can make sure people are treated equitably?”
Vilsack made his comments late this (Friday) morning.
MFA Incorporated, a major feed supplier based in Missouri, sees some signs of drought relief. Mike Spidle, director of sales for livestock products and feed marketing told Brownfield at the Western Farm Show forage issues at the end of last year were a major concern for farmers but water issues were the biggest at the start of this year. Spidle tells Brownfield Ag News, “Water was the major limiting factor all across our trade territory. I talked to some producers who had sold some livestock but then had bought some back. So, there’s some positive aspects to livestock now that we’re getting a little bit of moisture, we just need more.”
There’s been some runoff from rain this year and he says the snow will help but points out that ponds are NOT filling up. As for their feed business, Spidle says, “The feed business was really good going into — because they had drought they didn’t have enough forage so they had to spread some of that out so that was good for us. But, we’ve been holding things together this year, too. Feed sales have been relatively good.”
MFA is a 45-thousand member farmer cooperative and a sponsor and participant in the Western Farm Show in Kansas City. MFA’s territory covers Missouri and eastern Kansas.
Soybeans were mixed on the adjustment of old and new crop spreads, along with profit taking in the nearbys. China bought another 120,000 tons of 2013/14 U.S. soybeans, but Allendale’s David Kohli notes there are concerns about Chinese demand due to a declining purchasing index. Still, Kohli adds any significant decline in soybean purchases would be unlikely due to increasing domestic demand. South American crop and harvest conditions look good, but there are continued shipping delays because of port congestion. Informa Economics increased its’ outlook for Brazil’s bean crop, now up to 84.5 million tons, while leaving Argentina’s crop projection unchanged at 51 million tons.
Corn was mixed on the tight nearby supply and old crop/new crop spread adjustments. Old crop hit new three week highs on continued talk of new export demand and traders getting ready for the supply and demand update on the 8th. In the deferreds, the trade expects increased U.S. acreage with USDA’s estimate out on the 28th. Corn traders are preparing for the numbers and keeping an eye on shipping delays out of South America. Informa Economics projects Argentina’s corn crop at 25 million tons with Brazilian production at 71.6 million tons. Ethanol futures were firm. The E.U.’s European Commission estimates 2013/14 corn production at 65.3 million tons with total grain production at 291.1 million tons.
The wheat complex was higher with Minneapolis leading the way up on commercial and speculative buying. It’s looking more and more like recent snowfall in the Plains and Midwest won’t be enough to break the drought. Also, Chicago’s trying to keep pace with corn due to the feed connection. European wheat was higher on the lower euro and expectations for improving export demand. The United Kingdom’s Home Grown Cereals Authority states wet soil may lead to around 10% of the U.K.’s winter crop failing. The European Union’s European Commission estimates 2013/14 soft wheat production at 131.1 million tons. Russia’s Ag Ministry reports spring planting is underway and the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation adds Kiev could resume wheat exports in April.
The issues surrounding sow housing will be discussed at next week’s Pork Industry Forum in Orlando.
The National Pork Board will update producers on new animal welfare education initiatives. Pork Board CEO Chris Novak tells Brownfield the industry is working to engage with food companies and consumers, to help them understand the pros and cons of various pork production systems.
“There are tradeoffs between different types of production practices—different systems that we use today,” Novak says, “and we recognize that we need to find a better way to explain that—to share that story—with food companies that are making decisions that are affecting farmers.”
Novak says many of the food companies that have called for the elimination of gestation stalls did so before they had all of the facts.
“As we’ve talked to many of those companies, we’ve asked if they have looked at the implications for animals—if they understood the implications for animals. And if they understood what the cost implications were or the environmental sustainability implications of their decisions,” Novak says, “and many of those companies have indicated that they have not looked at these things.”
But Novak says overcoming the “emotional appeal” used by animal rights activists is a major challenge. He says the activists have been successful at connecting pets with farm animals.
“We need consumers to understand that there is a difference between the two—and we can’t produce animals that end up on the dinner table and treat them in the same way that someone might treat their pets.”
The Pork Industry Forum runs March 7th, 8th and 9th in Orlando.
Feedlot country was very quiet on Friday afternoon with just a few cleanup sales at 128.00 live and 203.00 on the dressed. The combination of tight feedlot supplies and higher cutouts worked to spark a big jump in cash cattle prices. Slaughter cattle this week sold 4.00 to 5.00 higher on a live basis and mostly 6.00 higher dressed. Packer demand was described as good. The weekly cattle slaughter totaled 563,000 head, 10,000 smaller than the previous week and 57,000 less than 2012.
Boxed beef cutout values were higher on choice and steady on select on moderate demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice boxed beef was up 1.94 at 188.10, and select was .05 higher at 185.01.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 15 points higher to 45 lower. The front months were supported by the sharply higher cash market and the improvement in wholesale beef prices. Gains were limited however by the uncertainty as to how the government spending cuts will impact the economy. April settled .10 higher at 129.95, and June was up .15 at 125.10.
Feeder cattle contracts settled 25 to 77 points lower as early support in the feeder futures market slowly eroded following the lack of pressure in the corn market. Corn futures had traded weaker overnight, but renewed commercial support developed early Friday in the nearby contracts. This ended the initial support in the feeder contracts. March settled .45 lower at 141.55, and April was down .77 at 144.15.
Mar. corn closed at $7.24 and 1/4, up 4 and 3/4 cents
Mar. soybeans closed at $14.64 and 1/2, down 9 and 3/4 cents
Mar. soybean meal closed at $427.30, down $7.50
Mar. soybean oil closed at 49.47, up 65 points
Mar. wheat closed at $7.13 and 1/4, up 5 and 1/2 cents
Apr. live cattle closed at $129.95, up 10 cents
Apr. lean hogs closed at $81.12, up 12 cents
Apr. crude oil closed at $90.68, down $1.37
May cotton closed at 85.40, up 11 points
Mar. Class III milk closed at $16.79, down 19 cents
Mar. gold closed at $1,571.90, down $5.80
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 14,089.66, up 35.17 points
Entitled “Progress and Prosperity: A Look Into Iowa’s Renewable Fuels Industry”, the book was created as part of IRFA’s 10th Anniversary celebration.
It is available online at iowarfa.org, or in hard copy by contacting the IRFA office in Johnston.