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So far Kent Lockridge has created 20 blog entries.

Eggs Prices Up, Salad and OJ Down

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s Spring Picnic Marketbasket Survey decreased from last year thanks to lower prices for several foods, including salad, orange juice, shredded cheddar, ground chuck, sirloin tip roast, vegetable oil, white bread, ground chuck, deli ham and orange juice. The informal survey shows the total cost of 16 food items that can be used to prepare one or more meals was $53.28, down $.59 or about 1 percent compared to a survey conducted a year ago. Of the 16 items surveyed, ten decreased and six increased in average price. Egg prices are up sharply from first quarter of 2015, a year ago but are down even more sharply from the third quarter of 2015. This shows the effect of the HPAI (High Pathogenic Avian Influenza) event last year. Prices on the beef items in the marketbasket – ground chuck and sirloin tip roast – peaked in early 2015 at record high levels. Since then, a combination of increasing beef production, weaker exports, and lower competing meat prices have led to modest price declines. Dairy product prices also remain relatively low. At $4.29 for a one-pound bag, shredded cheddar cheese price is at the lowest price in this survey since the third quarter of 2012. The whole milk price rose almost 3 percent from the third quarter of last year, but that third quarter price was the lowest price in the survey since 2010. (Source: American Farm Bureau Federation) Marketbasket Survey


By |2016-03-24T11:23:26-05:00March 24th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Morning Summary

Macro traders are wondering if last weeks trend of crude oil moving higher and the U.S. dollar moving lower is only a brief anomaly or greater evidence of things to come? There’s a ton of moving parts this week so make certain you are paying very close attention. Below are the ones the trade seems most heavily focused on. These are also the headlines that will most directly impact the direction of the U.S. dollar and crude oil, hence ultimately deciding the overall direction of stocks and commodity prices:

  • Fed Meeting: Federal Reserve officials start their two-day meeting on Tuesday. Even though most inside the trade doubt we will see any type of rate hike, there’s a very strong chance we could see more hawkish type commentary and increased   thoughts of another rate hike between now and July. Keep in mind employment has strengthened as of late and inflation appears to have gained a little nearby momentum on higher prices at the pump. 
  • U.S. Presidential Campaign: The 2016 race is certainly heating up and drawing a ton of press and uncertainty amongst Wall Street traders. There’s a lot of talk as of late that the recent weakness in the U.S. dollar is a direct result of the uncertainty surrounding who will become the next U.S. president. With several “extreme” candidates still in contention the world is a bit on edge in regard to free trade, immigration, big banks, taxes, etc… The extreme “changes” being discussed make the trade nervous as nobody knows exactly how the worlds #1 economy will be altered during the next four years? Keep in mind there’s some huge presidential primaries this week in key states like Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. Don’t forget some of these are “winner-take-all” states and could largely impact the race. 
  • Crude Oil & China: There’s a ton of Chinese economic data scheduled for release this week. IN fact over the weekend it was reported that China’s industrial production during the first two months of the year grew at its slowest rate since the global financial crisis. The figures were the weakest since November 2008.  Many insiders I speak with have had little confidence through the years in the accuracy of most Chinese data. This is why crude oil prices have been so heavily influential across the trade as of late. Many insiders believe the price of crude oil tells a more accurate story about the strength of the Chinese economy. Meaning the Chinese government can release whatever data they want and tell the world they are expecting +7% growth in GDP, but when crude oil prices are betting out and the world is seemingly swimming in a glut of over-supply, it’s tough to believe the numbers. Perhaps the recent turnaround and move higher in crude oil price is an indication the trade may have gotten a bit too bearish the Chinese economy and perhaps there are some signs of a recovery, or at least a chance their latest dovish policies changes by the government has stopped the bleeding? OPEC is scheduled to release its monthly oil market report today. Investors will be looking to see whether production increased in February and what the group’s projections are for full-year output. If you recall, Saudi Arabia and fellow OPEC members Qatar and Venezuela […]
By |2016-03-14T10:38:09-05:00March 14th, 2016|Articles|0 Comments

Morning Summary

U.S. stocks are down slightly this morning as macro traders  digest headlines from over the weekend that China has cuts it’s economic growth target. The Chinese government however emphatically denies any rumors of a “hard-landing”. Crude continues to gain traction and is now trading at multi-month highs.  Emerging market equities just chalked up their biggest weekly gains since 2011. It’s also worth noting that both gold and iron ore, though down slightly this morning, are up nearly +20% on the year. All of which has some inside the trade arguing that the commodity markets have bottomed. Bottom-line, I suspect as oil stabilizes investors are going to continue to feel more at ease with adding “risk”. There seems to be more talk about the overall economic landscape becoming much more highly “fragmented” rather than negative across the board. In other words some pockets or areas of the economy are seeing sharp declines and have clearly moved into recessionary territory, while other areas remain strong and robust. Many analyst believe this is why the markets have become extremely difficult to forecast. It seems like whatever direction the  headlines and lights on the stage decide to shine can produce wildly different results. One thing for certain, we are finally seeing more sizable cuts in U.S. oil production as rig counts drop below 400. Keep in mind, U.S. crude production had jumped from just 5.4 million barrels a day back in early-2010 to a whopping 9.7 million barrels per day this past spring. We are also seeing more headlines about Saudi Arabia looking to borrow $10 billion dollars and talk their government may be starting to feel the pain of cheap oil. Russia is also talking more openly about possible production cuts. Here at home this week economic data will be very light, today’s only release being the Labor Market Conditions Index, which isn’t heavily watched by investors but seems to be  something the Federal Reserve officials monitor. Keep in mind the jobs report this past Friday was extremely strong, showing employers added +242,000 jobs in February, well above market consensus. The government also revised upward its estimates for job gains in December and January by a total of +30,000. The negatives in the report were a -0.1% decline in hourly wages and a slight reduction in weekly hours worked. I suspect the main event this week will be the European Central Bank’s latest policy decision, which will be announced on Thursday morning. The trade is expecting the ECB to move rates further into negative territory. Keep in mind that the whole “negative rate experiment” is eyed with a high degree of anxiety as investors and economists alike aren’t sure what the ultimate consequences might be. While central bank stimulus has historically been viewed by Wall Street as a positive, the deeper move into negative territory may not illicit that traditional response. It doesn’t help that the ECB’s stimulus efforts have so far failed to prop up their waning economy, as just last week data showed the the EU block has slid back into “deflation.” Analysts are also expecting the ECB to increase its bond buying by […]

By |2016-03-07T11:22:01-06:00March 7th, 2016|Articles, Newsletter|0 Comments

Is China Challenging To Be The World’s Breadbasket?

If you want to look to the future of food production, its important to look at the trends in crop breeding technology, specifically at the countries with the most patent activity. According to research from Thomson Reuters and their “9 Billion Bowls” project, a research piece I encourage everyone to read in full-detail, China is making a bold push to be the world’s breadbasket of the future, perhaps within the next decade. As it stand now the U.S. and China alone represent 68% of all the patent documents associated with crop breeding around the world. From what I understand these two countries are larger than the closet competing country by at least a factor of five. However, it’s notable that while the U.S. has more patent applications over the past 5 years than China, the majority of the U.S. documents are coming from a small collection of private companies, while the Chinese applications are coming from a larger number of academic institutions. Once China’s private industry begins patenting, there is a high likelihood that they will pass the U.S. in the number of crop breeding patent applications produced. Based on the recent filing data, it’s clear that China has taken a a more aggressive interest in crop breeding and is using these innovations to position themselves not only to meet the needs of their own domestic population, but to potentially challenge the U.S. as the “Breadbasket of the World.” This is a terrific bit of research and there’s a lot more interesting data worth digesting. You can see form the information that the Thompson Reuters team has put a lot of time and research into this study and have certainly delivered a quality report. (Source: Thomson Reuters, 9 Billion Bowls)

WW Crop Breeding Patents

By |2016-03-02T11:17:29-06:00March 2nd, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Too many cooks in the advocacy kitchen? (commentary)

By Kelsey Faivre                                                                                                        February 19, 2016

A friend of mine mentioned that an agriculture professional came to speak with one of her on-campus organizations a while ago, bringing the message that every person involved in agriculture should be actively blogging and participating in social media “agvocacy” efforts. That’s a pretty common message in agriculture circles today.

Despite hearing this message, my friend still hasn’t started up a blog. Her reasoning?

“I’m not that good of a writer. I like plants, not writing, and I don’t have the time it takes to find accurate scientific information to back up my ideas. I don’t want to muddy the waters for people by contributing to an effort in a way that creates more confusion than good.”

That got me thinking. There’s no question that there is a need to educate consumers on the ways of modern agriculture. But I wonder if relative quality of advocacy messages may have an impact on consumer response and therefore the success of efforts to increase overall agriculture literacy.

It seems like everywhere you turn, agriculturalists are being encouraged to tell their stories, to be “agvocates.” In my opinion, it’s time to think a little harder about the ways we champion agriculture.

How can we advocate while recognizing our limitations of expertise?

Each individual in the agriculture industry has a different perspective and a different story to tell. But nobody is an expert on every topic! It seems like sometimes we are quick to jump to the defense of our fellow farmers, even if we don’t know all the facts about their segment of the industry. This creates confusion.

A good example of this is when some agvocates try to defend gestation stalls but confuse them with farrowing crates. This creates more of a problem, requiring experts to step in and try to provide clarification. In the resulting confusion, both the misinformed agvocates and the swine experts risk losing credibility and the industry seems like it can’t agree on a message.

Are we leaving room for more than one right answer?

The agriculture industry is not homogenous. People down the road from each other growing the same crops may make completely different management decisions for equally legitimate reasons. That’s something to celebrate and share. Advocating for a single production method while simultaneously discrediting those who use others creates confusion and resentment within the industry.

Is advocating badly more damaging than no advocacy at all?

I’m not sure there’s a right answer to this question. On one hand, there are a lot of cooks in the “agvocacy” kitchen. On the other, each of us has a different agriculture story and a different perspective, and there should be room for those in the conversation about food and farming.

Agvocacy efforts are fantastic and necessary. But are there times when inaccurate information, lack of scientific grasp, and/or difficulty communicating clearly makes for poor execution. Is it possible that it’s to the detriment of the industry? Certainly something worth pondering I would say.

Faivre was raised on a farm in Northern Illinois, where […]

By |2016-02-22T08:41:54-06:00February 22nd, 2016|Articles|0 Comments
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