Grain Market Update

Corn prices are slightly higher this morning on the heels of a small rebound in wheat and soybeans. There’s really no fresh news to report following the extend weekend, the weather in South America remains mostly benign, the Chinese continue to sit on a glut of corn as their reserve price remains in question, and the trade continues to believe the USDA will soon announce that they see more corn acres being planted here in the U.S. during 2016. From both a spec and technical perspective it seems really hard for me to imagine old-crop prices in the MAR16 contract moving beyond the $3.70 to $3.80 area based on the current circumstances and headlines. Sure I could argue that we will see more of a short-covering rally in the entire commodity sector if crude oil can continue to find its legs and move more aggressively north of $30 per barrel, but I suspect that’s only money sloshing around and does very little to change or alter the overall current bearish fundamentals that are still entrenched in this market. As for new-crop prices, I still argue that the DEC16 contract will continue to find extremely heavy resistance up between the $3.95 to $4.10 area. As a producer who is wanting to reduce more new-crop risk, I simply remain patient! Personally I’m targeting the late-March to early-May time period as our next bullish window of opportunity. A period of time where I suspect many of the current cards on the table are reshuffled and U.S. weather starts to more aggressively move to the forefront… Moral of the story, despite the possibilities of small nearby bounce on increased crude oil optimism and temporary commodity short-covering, I continue to keep hedges place fearing we could still see another round of lower prices within the next 30-days.

Spring Crop Revenue Insurance Guarantees: Remember these prices will update daily during the month of February as the price average is determined.

  • Corn $3.87^6 (Avg. close of the DEC16 contract during Feb)
  • Soybeans $8.85^4 (Avg. close of the NOV16 contract during Feb)

Soybeans bulls are hoping the trade can somehow gather enough momentum into a wave of bearish fundamentals to overcome the heavy resistance on the charts up between $8.90 and $9.10 per bushel. It’s hard for me to imagine this market breaking-out beyond these levels with the South American crop continuing to advance without any major widespread disruptions. The recent rainfall totals in Argentina have helped production in many key locations, while the Brazilian harvest continuing to advance with more reports circulating of better than expected yields. Traders will be eager this week to see how the Chinese crush margins respond now that we have moved past the week long Lunar New Year holiday. As for U.S. headlines, traders are patiently waiting to see what the USDA has to say late next week at their 2016 Ag Outlook Forum. Early thoughts remain +1 to +2 million more soybean acres being planted in 2016, with an average yield starting out somewhere between 46.5 and 47.5 bushels per acre….neither of which are considered bullish! As both a spec and a producer I clearly […]

By |2016-02-16T10:07:44-06:00February 16th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Midwest Gas Price Decline Leads Nation Average Lower

Another week, another decline at the gas pump for much of the country. Gasoline prices fell 6.2 cents in the last week, according to GasBuddy.com live data. The national average stood $1.74/gallon yesterday, some -25.6 cents lower than last month and -44.4 cents below last year’s prices. No where in the country has the decline been as large as in the Midwest, where refiners have continued to churn out cheap winter gasoline. In just the last week, average prices in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio fell 14 cents per gallon, while some stations in these states fell over -30 cents per gallon. Over half the states in the country have seen gas prices decline over -20 cents in the last month, while the Great Lakes and West Coast sit atop the list: Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan saw declines of 41-43 cents, while California, Oregon and Washington saw declines of 36-37 cents. Nationwide, just 13.1% of gas stations are selling over $2 per gallon while over 25% now are selling under $1.50 per gallon. (Source: Gas Buddy) Gas Near $1.00 Per Gallon In Some Parts Of The U.S. – There are at least eight states where some stations are now selling gas for less than $1.25 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. The cheapest gas at the moment is at a 7-Eleven in Oklahoma City, which is selling a gallon of regular for $1.11. In fact, more than a dozen other stations in that city have gas for $1.14 or less. Extremely cheap gas can also be found in Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois Michigan and Kansas. Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of regular is down to $1.74, the cheapest it’s been since early January 2009. Read more at CNN Money

Cheapest States for Gasoline


By |2016-02-09T07:39:26-06:00February 9th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Is The U.S. Moving Toward A Cashless Society?

Capital One recently conducted a survey in the payment and financial services industry and found that over half the experts in the field believe the U.S. will be a totally cashless society by 2030. Most of them think that mobile devices with fingerprint readers will end up being the leading form of payment in this new cashless world. Currently, about 85% of all transactions in the world today are cash based, led primarily by developing countries. In fact, the majority of people in places like Africa, India and South America don’t even have bank accounts. Here in the U.S. though, only about 8% of consumers do not have a bank account. And of course, a debit card generally comes with a bank account. Only about 40% of transactions conducted in the U.S. are carried out using cash. That’s still a surprisingly high percentage, but experts nonetheless seem to believe America will mostly give up paper and coin transactions. One major reason they see cash falling by the wayside is because cash is actually really expensive! It’s estimated that about 1.5% of U.S. GDP is spent handling cash…printing it, distributing it, securing it, collecting it, cleaning it. So our government has a huge incentive to encourage electronic transactions. There is also the crime factor. Cash is pretty much impossible to trace. Most forms of fraud, money laundering, black market activity and other crime is conducted in cash precisely for that reason. Some European countries are already close to ditching cash. Denmark’s government has a laid out plan to eradicate the use of cash by 2030. In Sweden, some banks no longer dispense or accept cash, ATMs are increasingly being removed and a growing number of stores won’t take cash. Only about 2% of the countries financial transactions are cash based at this point. Cash transactions of more than 2,500 euros have already been banned in Spain, and France and Italy have both banned all cash transactions of more than 1,000 euros. In Australia, banking experts have predicted they will be a cashless society by 2022, just six years from now! The idea of the government being able to monitor absolutely every transaction we make is not something I see going over well in the U.S., as it is in total opposition to some of our most highly valued liberties and privacy. I suspect if Washington makes the push we will start to see more protests and objections from the crowd. Bottom-line, it will be extremely interesting to see how the battle between technology, government and consumer privacy plays itself out during the next few years. I would propose bracing yourself for some extreme change!


By |2016-02-08T11:24:12-06:00February 8th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sub-Saharan Africa Continues to Bring Opportunities for US Ag Exports

Sub-Sahara AfricaWith little in the headlines regarding U.S. crop production, I thought it would be interesting to take a look a the explosive growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. Essentially the area we are talking about includes all of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara Desert. It does not include the five predominantly Arab states of northern Africa which consists of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and the Sudan. Keep in mind Sub-Saharan Africa, especially East Africa, is regarded by some geneticists as being the birthplace of the human race (the genus Homo). Stone tools are first attested around 2.6 million years ago, when H. habilis in Eastern Africa used so-called pebble tools: choppers made out of round pebbles that had been split by simple strikes. This marks the beginning of the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age; its also argued to be where the last ice age ended, around 10,000 years ago. In any regard, this area of the world has seen a rising appetite for imported agricultural goods, a direct result of the region’s robust growth in gross domestic product (GDP) and population. The USDA recently estimated Sub-Saharan Africa imported close to $50 billion in food and agricultural products, a value that has been growing rapidly for the last two decades. In comparison, India only imported around $20 billion in agricultural products and they have 300 million more people. While U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa have slowed recently, several key U.S. exports continue to thrive, laying a roadmap for future success in the region. It’s worth noting that Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP has grown by a whopping +60% and its middle class has expanded by +90% in just the past 10 years. In fact many sources now regard this as one of the fastest growing regions in the world, perhaps more robust than Southern Asia. Overall, consumer-oriented products have seen the highest growth. The brightest star has been U.S. poultry exports. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa was recently the third-largest market for U.S. poultry and has experienced 30% year-on-year growth for the last five years. In addition, U.S. exports of prepared foods, condiments/sauces, and dairy products have all seen strong growth in the last five years. Another success story has been U.S. wheat exports. Sub-Saharan Africa has long been the top destination for U.S. wheat exports and will likely continue to be a significant market. While Nigeria has traditionally accounted for the majority of U.S. wheat exports to the region, other countries in West and East Africa have seen strong growth. Bottom-line, most all economist and forecasters believe U.S. producers will continue to enjoy large export growth opportunities for the next several years. (Read more at USDA/FAS)





By |2016-01-26T14:27:53-06:00January 26th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

93% of US Counties Still Haven’t Recovered from the Recession

Those of you who watched the State of the Union address last night know that President Obama spent some time, as usual, crowing about his economic record. To my surprise, he mentioned the “Great Recession” only once, but he spent plenty of time talking about how the economy has grown during his term is office. As you might expect, these words need to be taken with a grain of salt. A recent study from the National Association of Counties (NACO) provides more evidence to support our suspicions. According to their study, across all of the United States’ 3069 counties that have their own county government, only 214, or 7%, of them have recovered to pre-Recession levels on all four of their indicators, jobs, unemployment rate, GDP recovery, and home prices. That means 2882 of the counties NACO considered have yet to do so. From their report:
By 2015, 214 county economies recovered to their pre-recession levels on all four indicators analyzed, almost three times more than by 2014. Most of these county economies are in Texas, Nebraska and Kansas. For the first time, 17 of the 126 large county economies — in counties with more than 500,000 residents — are part of this group. The majority are in California and Texas.

Overall, the county economies recovered on all four indicators by 2015 still represent only 7 percent of all county economies. In contrast, almost 16 percent of county economies had not recovered on any indicator by 2015, mostly in the South and Midwest. States such as Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Mississippi have more than a third of their county economies still reeling from the latest downturn across all economic indicators.
The report has this section under the cheery sounding subheading “Economic Recovery is Spreading Out”, but it’s really hard to see this in too positive a light. For those interested, here is the relevant map:

214 County Economies Recovered on all Four Indicators by 2015

As you can see, the darkest blue indicates counties that have totally recovered on all four of their indicators. Most of the country’s counties, though, are still stuck on the lower end of the spectrum. As you can see, the colors for 0-2 recovered indicators far out number the fully and mostly recovered counties.
It does qualify as progress, I suppose, from last year when, as the Wall Street Journal noted, the organization’s study found only 65 of the nation’s counties had recovered on all four points. The Journal has done the hard work of crunching the numbers on NACO’s study. Here is what they have note:
Last year, 72 of the recovered counties were in Texas, the most of any state. Nebraska followed with 22. Minnesota, Kentucky, North Dakota, Montana and Kansas each had at least 10 fully recovered counties.
Meanwhile, in 27 states, not a single county had fully recovered.
Some of the nation’s largest counties finally recovered from the recession in 2015, including the counties containing

Denver, San Francisco, San Jose, […]

By |2016-01-19T15:44:38-06:00January 19th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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