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Can Nutrient Loss Prevention Measures Mitigate Hypoxia in the Gulf?

The hypoxic or “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is one of those haunting issues for agriculture.  Farmers are blamed for causing it, but are not convinced they are at fault.  The issue never seems to go away, just like the hypoxic zone is always there.  It is a 5,800 square mile area that has levels of oxygen too low to support sea life.  Farmers are blamed because of excess nitrogen and other nutrients flow into the hypoxic zone near the mouth of the Mississippi River. That causes excess growth of microscopic plant life which consumes oxygen as it dies and decomposes.  An action plan to reduce the nutrient run off was developed in Iowa in 2008. Will it be successful?

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Posted by Stu Ellis on 12/24 at 07:37 AM | (0) Comments | Permalink

Ethanol Profits Are Up, But Not For Farmers

Cornbelt farmers continue to hear messages that profitability might be low or non-existent in 2014.  Commodity prices have dropped considerably compared to the last 5 years.  At the same time production input costs have risen.  On top of that cash rents for farmland have increased due to higher land values.  The cost-price squeeze will pinch many farmers who will not have high corn prices to rely upon for profitability.  At the same time, ethanol refiners are enjoying good profitability.  With the EPA considering cutbacks of ethanol use in motor fuel, will this hurt the ethanol refiner or the corn grower?  What happens if all of these planets line up, anyway?

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Posted by Stu Ellis on 12/18 at 11:33 PM | (0) Comments | Permalink

He had seed corn in his what?

  Two weeks ago, the news rippled across the commodity market that China had rejected a shipload of US corn because it contained traces of genetic material from Syngenta’s Viptera seed technology.  That genetic material has not been approved in China and was targeted a couple years ago by US grain conglomerates Cargill and Bunge as unacceptable because of that reason.  Farmers have been raising corn throughout the Cornbelt with the Viptera genetics, and since it has been approved in US commercial channels, it has undoubtedly also made its way to China before this December. 

But now we know what is going on.

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Posted by Stu Ellis on 12/16 at 11:36 PM | (0) Comments | Permalink

Your Production and Markets Have Caused Major Changes in Rail Shipments for Grain

What happens to your corn or soybeans when it leaves your possession?  If you are delivering to a feed lot or a processor, it is quite evident what will happen to it.  But if it flows through an elevator and into a covered hopper car, the destination could be a long ways away and there may be a lot of other grain hauled with it.  Increases in corn and soybean production, the development of ethanol plants, and China’s hunger for soybeans have all become significant dynamics in the changes the rail industry has made to transport US grain.

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Posted by Stu Ellis on 12/13 at 01:16 AM | (1) Comments | Permalink

The Fed is Watching and Seems Pleased with US Agriculture

Agriculture remains one of the strong parts of the economy in the eyes of the Federal Reserve.  For the past two months, Fed economists have generally given agriculture high marks across its districts.  “Strong crop yields were reported, while in general, agricultural commodity prices fell and drought conditions stabilized or improved. Richmond, Chicago, and Kansas City reported strong crop yields for fall harvests. Contacts in the Kansas City District noted decreases in farm incomes and increases in the demand for farm operating loans, as prices softened in response to rising yields. The Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco Districts indicated strong demand and increased profitability in livestock due to lower feed costs. Atlanta contacts reported making investments in various types of agricultural equipment as a means to further improve production and contain costs. Prices paid to farmers for wheat, corn, and soybeans fell in Atlanta, Chicago, and Minneapolis. However, in Chicago, higher exports cushioned the decline. The Kansas City District indicated rising farmland values, although the rate of increase slowed.”  That is the summary of the Fed’s latest Beige Book, but what does the rest of it say?

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Posted by Stu Ellis on 12/04 at 11:04 PM | (0) Comments | Permalink

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