A Weekly Update from the Red River Farm Network
Monday, July 11, 2022
Market Intelligence-With commodity markets fluctuating wildly, relevant information is a necessity. By ‘Reporting Agriculture’s Business, the Red River Farm Network delivers that information. Each day, RRFN interviews numerous analysts and industry experts to help our audience understand the market dynamics and make business decisions. Listen to your local RRFN radio partner and podcasts for the content that impacts your bottom line.
What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets – In this week’s edition of What’s Hot, What’s Not in the Markets, Martinson Ag Risk Management President Randy Martinson says the latest 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts are calling for hot, dry conditions in the Cornbelt. That will coincide with pollination in many areas. Here’s the update.
Exports Influenced by Strong U.S. Dollar – The U.S. dollar is at a 20-year highs, slowing global demand for grains. “I think the bigger impact is when we start looking at competing against South America and their production,” said AgMarket.Net market analyst Jacob Burks. Monetary policy will also impact demand. “We built the perfect storm on the supply scare, free money and the weather. That storm built and then, things changed.”
The Bull Pen: Money Flows Out of Ag Commodities – The markets have seen a major retracement since the Fed increased interest rates in mid-June. Advance Trading Risk Management Advisor Tommy Grisafi believes the market got spooked and uses cryptocurrency as an example. “Folks in the ag community may think it doesn’t affect them, but it does,” Grisafi told RRFN. “When an asset class like crypto is worth $3 trillion and within four weeks, it’s only worth $1 trillion, when you hear you can’t get your money out, it scares people.” The overall stock market is off 25-to-35 percent from its highs. “How do you tie that back to corn, wheat and beans? It’s money flow.” More information from Grisafi can be found in ‘The Bull Pen’ interview on the Red River Farm Network YouTube channel and other social media platforms.
Market Downturn is Overdone – USDA will release its July supply and demand report Tuesday. AgriSompo North America market analyst Sterling Smith expects a tight balance sheet. “I did my balance sheets, trying to predict the future and the soybean ending stocks number was noticeably smaller than last years.” Smith says the recent drop in prices was overdone and was not driven by market fundamentals. “The drop in the grain market may have been a little overstated and might not have much to do with what’s going on.”
Tough Decisions Needed – Utterback Marketing President Bob Utterback thinks hedging next year’s crop will be difficult. “A lot of guys are suggesting to me that the cost of production is going to be well above $5 (per bushel) and with any type of basis, the market is just about at break-even.” Seasonally, we are at a time when corn prices tend to drift lower into harvest. “You can probably count on one hand how many times we’ve rallied from the 4th of July into October and it’s only because of an extremely abnormal weather event. Weather is going to be king of the hill these next couple of weeks.”
Market Mindset – During a Minnesota Corn Growers Association webinar, Kluis Commodity Advisors Managing Director Al Kluis encouraged the audience to operate their farm like a grain elevator. Kluis said grain elevators use the futures market to their advantage. “It’s all about managing risk and they don’t really care what futures prices are at. Elevator operators are interested in always trying to capture the carry and get the best basis they can.”
Biden Blames Russia for Inflation – Speaking at an event in Ohio Wednesday , President Joe Biden said his administration has done positive things for the economy over the past year and a half. “However, we have a long way to go because of inflation and what I call the Putin Tax Increase.” Biden went on to say he cites Russian President Putin because of high gas prices “and all that grain he’s keeping from getting to the market.” Biden also criticized Congress for failing to pass his gas tax holiday proposal.
Fed Releases Minutes From June Meeting – The Federal Reserve Board increased interest rates by three-quarters of a percent at that meeting, which is the largest increase since 1994. In the newly-published minutes, it is apparent the Fed will likely increase rates by another half or three-quarters of a percent at its meeting July 26-27. Since the interest rate hike in mid-June, spring wheat futures have dropped 27 percent. Canola declined 22 percent; corn is off 19 percent and soybeans down by more than 13 percent.
A Decline in Producer Sentiment for the June Ag Economy Barometer – Rising input costs continue to weigh on a farmer’s perception of the ag economy. That was part of the reason for the two point decline for the June Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. Center for Commercial Agriculture Director Jim Mintert is not surprised. “Longer term, people are worried about the idea that the production costs are much higher going into next year. Looking back at history, once costs go up, it’s tough to bring them back down.” That commodity price volatility could lead to production/cost squeezes in 2023.
Agriculture Squeezed by Fuel Costs – Diesel prices are more than twice the level paid before 2020. American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Shelby Myers says supply and demand are playing catch-up after world disruptions. “What makes this situation more difficult this year is that the U.S. doesn’t have the same amount of additional supplies coming in to meet demand.” Fuel prices have moderated in the past couple weeks, but Myers still expects costs to remain high. “This is the peak demand time for all fuels. If it continues to be difficult to produce the crude oil supplies needed to meet demand, we’re going to see fuel prices continue to increase.”
Think Ahead for Next Year – Strong commodity prices are helping this year, but Wells Fargo Chief Agricultural Economist Michael Swanson reminds farmers to be planning ahead to 2023. “They have the ability to sell ahead when they’re buying inputs,” says Swanson. The four biggest expenditures for farms are cash rent, seed, nutrients and equipment. “As you think about 2023, you’re asking yourself what’s my rent, seed, fertilizer and what equipment expenses do I have? If you take care of those four things reasonably well, you’ll make money in agriculture.”
Used Farm Equipment Values Rocket Higher – ‘Machinery Pete’ Greg Peterson says supply chain issues and the lack of available new machinery continues to keep used equipment prices moving higher. “I’ve never seen anything like in the 32 and-a-half years I’ve been tracking auction prices. It went higher all of 2021 and now, in 2022. It’s like a rocket ship.” Due to the shortage of parts, Peterson is seeing used equipment being used as a hedge. “It’s coming off last fall when the parts and availability issue became problematic. Even if you wanted to get that new tractor, planter or combine, you couldn’t get your hands on it. That spooked people. We’re seeing people buying that nice 300 horsepower tractor just to have it.”
Russia Reportedly Exporting Stolen Grain – Satellite images have identified Russian-flagged ships carrying Ukrainian grain and being transported to Syria. Earlier this month, the leading Ukrainian farm union group claimed 600,000 tons of grain was stolen from the Donbas Region. The photos from the U.S. satellite imagery company, Maxar, seem to confirm that allegation.
Dutch Farmers Claim Policy ‘Unfairly’ Targets Them – In the Netherlands, farmers are continuing to protest plans to cut ammonia and nitrogen oxide emissions in half by 2030. Tractors have filled major cities and farmers are threatening to bring the country to a standstill.
Rail Backlog Puts a Cap on Grain Supplies – Rail bottlenecks are growing more severe. National Grain and Feed Association Chief Economist Max Fisher says its members have been impacted by rail service disruptions. “Some people are having a hard time getting timely service and if they do get their shipment, it might be smaller than expected. There’s just not enough grain that’s moving by rail.” Fisher has heard reports of grain shortages due to rail issues. “Facilities that process grain aren’t receiving enough to satisfy demand. Some of them are going offline from time to time.”
Farm Bill Listening Session Scheduled in MN – The House Agriculture Committee has scheduled a farm bill listening session in Minnesota. This hearing will take two weeks from today, July 25, at Northfield. Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos of Illinois will chair the hearing and Minnesota Representative Angie Craig will host the event. This is part of a series of field hearings reviewing the current farm program and looking ahead to 2023.
Stats Can: Fewer Canola Acres Planted, More Spring Wheat and Durum – Statistics Canada says Canadian farmers planted more spring wheat and durum than last year. Spring wheat acres total 18.2 million, that’s 1.7 million more than last year and 580,000 more than the April estimate. At 6 million, durum acres are 470,000 more than last year, but 200,000 less than the April forecast. Canada’s canola acreage is down one million from last year at 21.4 million. Sunflower acres are down 8,000 from last year at 93,000 acres. Stats Can says summer fallow acres are up about a half-a-million acres from last year at 1.8 million.
Playing Catch Up – According to Peterson Farms Seed lead agronomist Rick Swenson, the crop is still trying to catch up from the wet, cold spring. Despite the late start, Growing Degree Days are trending higher than normal “but, if we get an early September frost, that’s gonna be a problem.” The summer outlook is still calling for higher than normal temperatures. Swenson said that is necessary for this crop to adequately finish out the season. Hear the story.
Input Decisions Based on the Price Tag – High crop input costs have influenced buying decisions this year. “I have heard some fertilizer suppliers saying that they felt like they sold less inputs this year,” said David Schlake, agronomy manager, Golden Harvest. “That may be just antidotal, but, there’s definitely growers that felt like this was the year where they cut back a little bit based on input costs and not necessarily looking at the commodity prices.”
Weather Skews Weed Management – NDSU Extension hosted a weed management tour at its Prosper research plot Thursday. NDSU weed specialist Joe Ikley cited the planting season. “It was very difficult to get pre-emergence herbicides applied with the short planting window.” Ikly says the wind and looming deadlines made it difficult to apply dicamba on a timely basis.
Working on Waterhemp Control – Speaking at the NDSU Extension weed plot tour, NDSU weed scientist Kirk Howatt said there are not many post emergence options to control waterhemp. “Many of them are Group 2 or ALS products that waterhemp has developed resistance to. We are conducting research trials to see if we can work on special labeling to keep waterhemp from dominating the cereals.” Kochia has been another troublesome weed to control this season. “Because of the weather patterns, it seemed to be hardened off and hard to control, even when it was two inches tall.”
Managing IDC – Even from the windshield, Iron Deficiency Chlorosis can be seen in soybean fields across the region. With IDC, there is a yellowing and stunting of the plant which limits yields. Pioneer Strategic Account Manager Brent Sorenson says variety selection is the best way to manage IDC. “If you really want to be consistent and get the best results, it’s all about variety,” said Sorenson. “You’ll hear that from the experts at NDSU and different places; if you hear it in a presentation it’s variety, variety, variety.” Sorenson sees the new ‘A’ series soybeans as an option to deliver the latest genetics to the field. Pioneer has a series of Enlist Executive Plot Tours next week with stops in Jamestown, McClusky and Leeds, North Dakota and Dorothy and Mahnomen, Minnesota. Sorenson has more information in the latest Pioneer Agronomy Update on the Red River Farm Network YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels.
Scout Now for Fusarium Head Blight – BASF Technical Service Representative Ken Deibert says the crop is advancing rapidly. “I’ve put on a lot of miles here this week and there’s a fair bit of both spring wheat and barley just starting to head and even a couple wheat fields have starting flowering.” Deibert says that is the perfect timing for the application of Sphaerex or Caramba fungicide. Growers are encouraged to contact their ag retailer as soon as possible. “We all know that supplies of many products have been pretty tight this year so make sure we secure those brands here ahead of application time.”
Disease Threat Expect to Increase – North Dakota State University Cereal Extension Plant Pathologist Andrew Friskop says wheat crop conditions vary across the state. “Disease reports have remained fairly low, but there is one disease that’s going to be picking up in the next few weeks and that’s bacterial leaf streak.” Friskop says growers should be scouting for scab as well. “Most of North Dakota is in low to moderate risk, but I’m expecting that risk to increase.”
WestBred Wheat Report – In the WestBred Wheat Report, WestBred Technical Product Manager Justin Berg says the crop may be shorter-than-normal, but it is in good condition. “I want to remind growers to be looking out for wheat midge as near that heading stage and all of the way through the flowering stage. We should also be looking for wheat diseases, especially on the flag leaf.” Berg says the high moisture, high humidity scenario, the risk increases for disease.
Ready for Harvest – Winter wheat harvest is fast approaching in the Northern Plains. “We’re starting to see some fields very well turned, a nice golden color,” said Reid Christopherson, executive director, South Dakota Wheat Commission.. “At least in the south-central portions of the state, the crop looks exceptional. We’re watching the skies. Mother Nature has the final vote.” Winter wheat acreage is up slightly in South Dakota from previous years.
Derecho Damages Grain Bins & Crops – A derecho brought high winds, rain and hail to central and southern South Dakota. Near Onida, Oahe Grain Corporation location manager Tim Luken says there is grain bin damage and crop damage in the area. “Some of the corn was tipped over. Thankfully, it wasn’t really tall yet and what was leaning will come back up.” Near Mitchell, Chet Edinger had a similar situation. “It may not look pretty, but we still should put a nice ear on,” says Edinger. “We were worried about wheat lodging, but we had a really dry April and the short straw length helped with that.” Photo credit: Chet Edinger
More Derecho Events Than Normal – USDA Midwest Climate Hub Director Dennis Todey says there are an average of two derecho events each year. “We’ve seen several more recently. A couple of them have been impressive. The one in Iowa, coming up on two years ago, was as strong of an event as you’ll ever see with winds more than 120 miles-per-hour.” These storms typically bring extensive damage. “The category of 60 miles-per-hour winds can do some damage, blowing over crops. When the wind gets above 80 miles per hour, that’s when the situation gets much worse.”
Crops Hurt by Early-Season Storms – Recent storms deliver lasting damage. North Dakota State University Extension Agronomist Clair Keene says broadleaf crops took the brunt of damage. “We’ve had a number of big storm systems move through that caused wind damage, hail damage, and sandblasting. Soybeans, sugarbeets, dry beans; if they were coming up when we had those big wind events, they just had their leaves sandblasted. Yields will be negatively impacted by that”
TransFARMation: Grain Bin Tragedy is an ‘If Only’ Moment – Bill Lambert made a split second deciison and it cost him his life on February 7, 2002. While at work in Leonard, North Dakota, Lambert dislodged crusted corn in a grain bin and there was no way to escape once the grain began to flow. “When his site supervisor hears the belt squealing on the auger, he came running to check on Bill and by the time he got there all he could see was the tips of Bill’s fingers above the corn,” said Dawn Chisholm. Dawn and Bill had three young children at the time.and the entire family was impacted by this tragedy. Dawn, who has since remarried, says this tragedy was overwhelming. “That first year you are in shock, I think you just go into survival mode, but living in a small community, everyone rallies around you.” In the TransFARMation podcast, Dawn said we all have those ‘if only’ moments. “We all do things that we think we can get away with; it may be taking a quick look at our phone, texting and driving.” Dawn now lives at Hawley, Minnesota and shares her inspirational story throughout the Midwest.
Sugerbeet Growth Spurt – After a delayed start to planting, the sugarbeet crop is starting to show rapid growth. “In the last week or so, the beets have taken off,” said Ashok Chanda, plant pathologist, University of Minnesota. “I would say some are getting close to row closure and some may take another seven-to-ten days.”
The Sugarbeet Report – Extremely windy conditions aren’t good for the sugarbeet crop. NDSU and University of Minnesota Extension Sugarbeet Agronomist Tom Peters has an update on the sugarbeet crop. Hear more in the Sugarbeet Report, presented by Amity Technology, H&S Manufacturing, SESVanderHave and REGEV from SummitAgro.
Judge Reverses Trump Era ESA Policy – A California federal judge rejected a policy change made by the Trump Administration in 2019. Economic factors will no longer be considered when determining if a species should be listed as threatened or endangered. The Sierra Club, Earthjustice and other environmental groups filed the lawsuit and are praising the judge’s decision. Farm Bureau and other business trade groups called this ruling “an abuse of discretion” by a single judge..
Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Hits U.S. Turkey Population Hard – According to the USDA, 5.4 million turkeys were depopulated because of exposure to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza. That’s enough to affect USDA’s turkey production forecast. Second-quarter production is now estimated at 1.29 billion pounds, eight percent below the same quarter last year. Third quarter turkey production is forecast to be six percent below last year. USDA expects turkey production to rebound close to previous year levels by the fourth quarter.
Animal Health Officials Review Avian Flu Response – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza killed more than four million birds in the Dakotas and Minnesota this spring. North Dakota had 15 flocks effected by the virus; South Dakota reported 40 cases and Minnesota had 80 HPAI cases. “This is an increase in cases here in South Dakota and across the United States when we compare 2022 and 2015,” said South Dakota State Veterinarian Beth Thompson. South Dakota did not ban poultry events, but Minnesota and North Dakota did. Minnesota lifted their ban on July 1 while the ban remains in effect in North Dakota through September 7. Minnesota State Veterinarian Shauna Voss encourages poultry farmers to stay vigilant. “Prior to that fall migration time, that’s a really good time and a really important time to review your biosecurity plan.” North Dakota State Veterinarian Ethan Andress says there is still a lot to learn about this virus. “We’re going to have other strains that come through in the future and so we just have to keep learning.”
Closing a Swine Disease Gap – In response to a growing disease threat, the Swine Health Information Center has reallocated $1 million in its 2022 budget to identify industry opportunities to improve. According to Associate Director Megan Niederwerder, there has been an uptick in disease issues within the finishing phase of production. “Specifically, we see an increase in the percent positive of PRRS cases in the grow-finish phase because we have lower or less biosecurity protocols at the finishing phase,” said Niederwerder. Research has identified PRRS and PED as an issue after the pigs arrive at the finishing unit. “That’s a vulnerability in our industry and if a foreign animal disease such as ASF gets introduced, the economic impact is devastating. We want to close that gap on the finishing site to make sure that we are protecting the industry as much as we can.”
Positive Returns in the Cattle Business – The U.S. cow herd is shrinking in size for the fourth straight year. University of Missouri Extension Economist Scott Brown expects cattle prices to stay high for the next few years. “The most important thing about higher prices is the reduction of cattle supplies and I think there’s going to be a lot less beef in the marketplace.” Input costs will be a consideration. “We’ve seen in the last few weeks, a little lower feed costs, but hay is going to be the biggest issue.”
Sugar Free Summer Challenge – New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is asking others to join him and take added or processed sugar out of their diets until Labor Day. In a tweet, Booker said the United States ‘uses tax dollars to drive down the costs of sugar,’ which is offset by high health care costs. Booker is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and takes an active role in farm and food policy.
Appeals Court Rules on Dicamba Case – A federal appeals court upheld a $15 million damage award for a Missouri peach farmer whose crops were reportedly damaged by dicamba drift. Bader Farms claimed Bayer and BASF failed to adequately warn farmers about off-target movement of dicamba. The same court overturned a $60 million punitive damage award and ordered a new trial on that part of the case.
CHS 3Q Earnings Reflect Strong Global Demand – CHS is reporting third quarter net income of nearly $577 million. That compares to $274 million in the same quarter last year. The co-op credits strong global demand and high commodity prices for the improvement. Margins for the CHS oilseed processing business were also higher. Positive returns were seen with the CHS investment in CF Nitrogen due to the demand for fertilizer.
Helping Farmers Navigate a Volatile Market Environment – Strong global demand and high commodity prices are credited for the improvement in CHS earnings. While there has been a downturn in the grain and oilseed markets, CHS President and CEO Jay Debertin says the cooperative is here to help farmers navigate this changing environment. “When commodity prices tip over that doesn’t mean that all the input prices, like fertilizer, follow the same trajectory so we work hard with our local cooperatives and farmers in terms of marketing plans, supply plans and understanding the market conditions.” CHS continues to invest in facilities and getting closer to grower. The new project at Erskine, Minnesota is one example. “It’s part of the way we can be an increasingly valuable part of the farmers’ supply chain and facilities are an important part of that,” said Debertin. “That also goes to rail capabilities, there’s just lots of reasons for us to be investing in speed and space.”
Merger Delayed – The merger between two major poultry companies is facing another delay. Wayne Farms, which is part of Continental Grain, came to terms on a deal to purchase Sanderson Farms nearly a year ago. The Justice Department sought additional information for its antitrust review. The status of that review has not been announced, but Sanderson Foods has reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission, implying the deal is being delayed, but not blocked. When the two companies come together, they will be the third largest poultry processor in the country.
Price-Fixing Settlement – Smithfield Foods has agreed to pay $42 million to settle a price-fixing lawsuit. The legal battle is continuing for other major pork processors. The lawsuit claims the industry shared confidential information about pricing, capacity and demand.
SD Crush Plant Awaits Final Local Approval – The Davison County Planning Commission gave its stamp of approval on the $500 million soybean and sunflower crush plant for Mitchell, South Dakota. On Tuesday, the final project application will be considered by the Board of Adjustment. South Dakota Soybean Processors CEO Tom Kersting says the new plant will be located three miles south of town. SDSP has two other soy crush facilities in the state, The new crush facility in Mitchell would be similar to Volga, “It will have more rail capacity and the ability to process 100,000 bushels per day compared to 85,000 bushels per day at Volga. It will have a more extensive refinery, too.” If the project stays on schedule, Kersting says the new soy crush facility should be completed by in 2025. Photo credit: South Dakota Soybean Processors
Titan Announces Strategic Acquisition of Heartland Ag Systems – West Fargo-based Titan Machinery has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Heartland Ag Systems for $110 million. Heartland is based in Hutchinson, Minnesota and is the largest Case IH Application Equipment distributor in North America.
CNH Strike Continues – Negotiations between CNH and union workers broke down in mid-June and no additional meetings are scheduled. This labor contract is for 1,100 workers at the Case IH and New Holland plants in Burlington, Iowa and Racine, Wisconsin.
Continental Acquires WCCO Belting – WCCO Belting in Wahpeton, North Dakota has new ownership. Continental’s interest in WCCO Belting was based on a desire to expand its agricultural portfolio. Terms of the deal were not announced.
USDA Names Senior Staff – Eric Deeble is the new deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Congressional Relations. Deeble has been working as a policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Bernhard Kluger will serve as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary. Most recently, Kluger had a similar role at the Small Business Administration. Yeshimebet Abebe returns to USDA after service during the Obama Administration. Abebe is the new director of organizational management and cultural transformation, farm production and conservation. Toby Cain was appointed chief of staff for the Risk Management Agency. Most recently, Cain worked on political campaigns in Iowa, Virginia and Utah. Anita Adkins, who has served as the acting chief human capital officer at USDA since October, will remove ‘acting’ from her title. George Sears will move from the USDA Forest Service to direct the office of small and disadvantaged business organization.
Corn Checkoff Board Elects Leadership Team – Doug Albin, Clarkfield, will chair the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council in 2022-23. Gary Prescher, Delavan, will serve as vice chair. The treasurer is Duane Epland from Twin Lakes. John Mages, Belgrade, is the new secretary.
Veteran Farm Broadcaster Passes – Longtime farm broadcaster Ken Tanner died June 27. Tanner was with WRAL/Tobacco Radio Network in Raleigh, North Carolina from 1977 to 1999. Tanner was also the radio voice of the Durum Bulls baseball team. In 1993, Tanner was president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters.
Last Week’s Trivia-Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner, a poem that is now the national anthem. C.O.nxt founding partner Lyle Orwig wins our weekly trivia challenge. Runner-up honors belong to Randy Knudsvig of First State Bank, Todd Good of AgCountry Farm Credit Services, Stephanie Larson of Rose-Oak British Whites and Solen farmer/rancher Woody Barth. The ‘first 20’ rounds out with Twyla Wulf of Clear Springs Cattle Company, retired NDSU Extension Dairy Specialist J.W. Schroeder, retired North Dakota Farmers Union economist Dale Enerson, Shell Valley farmer Steven Grenier, Crookston farmer Ron Lanctot, Crystal farmer Sara O’Toole, Peter Carson of Carson Farms, Kevin Praska of Stone’s Mobile Radio, Pisek farmer Ernie Barta, Lawton farmer Dennis Miller, Kevin Schulz of Dakota Farmer/Nebraska Farmer, Jim Altringer of Dakota Plains Cooperative, Ron Dvergsten of Northland Farm Business Management, Keith Rekow of Dairyland Seed and Norcross farmer Dwight Veldhouse.
This Week’s Trivia-How many are in a baker’s dozen? Send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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FarmNetNews is a production of the Red River Farm Network. RRFN is based in Grand Forks, North Dakota and provides news to farmers and ranchers across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.