Nov 19, 2013
Unless your commodity account was wrapped up in the MF Global flop, you probably haven't heard the company's name mentioned in a while. After all, it was in 2011 that the broker folded, taking customers' money with it. Now the FTC is ordering the group to pay $1.21 billion in restitution to its customers, as well as a $100 million civil penalty. Let's just hope there's enough dough to go around.
The New Cheap?
We've watched corn prices come tumbling down from their record highs earlier in the year. Cattlemen cheer. Farmers lament. It's all part of supply-demand economics. But could corn prices be sitting at a new plateau? In the early 70s, corn prices ranged from $1 to $1.66. Then you'd hear talk of $2 corn, $3, $4, and more recently $8. But in 2013, what is cheap corn? The writers of Policy Pennings suggest "cheap corn" may be given a new definition as prices adjust and new plateaus are established.
Heat and Eat for $1
As farm bill negotiations continue, it's no secret that food stamps are at the center of the debate. Food stamp spending has more than doubled in the past five years, and members of a House-Senate conference committee are scrutinizing food stamp eligibility rules. One such rule that's turning heads is known as "heat and eat." Apparently, if a state gives a resident as little as $1 a year in heating assistance, that person's household is automatically qualified for additional food stamps—up to $1,080 per family on average. Look for the "heat and eat" rule to be part of the food stamp debate, as well as the House's requirements for recipients to pass drug tests.
The idea of ranchers selling carbon credits has bounced around for a few years now, but never taken off like some had hoped. But recently landowners in a select North Dakota area can start collecting payments of $16 to $25 an acre to keep their land in pasture instead of converting it to cropland. Landowners are still allowed to use the land to raise cattle—they just can't till it, which keeps the carbon in the ground. This is the realization of a 2011 grant project with the USDA and Ducks Unlimited.
Two Thumbs Up!
Today we have some great news to report. The Ranchers Relief Fund that was developed after the October blizzard that devastated South Dakota ranchers has now totaled $1 Million. The foundation managing the fund is now taking applications for those who need help.
No Helping Hand?
There's an interesting sign above donation bins at an Ohio Wal-Mart—Please donate food so our associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner. Wow, how about that for public relations from the nation's largest retailer? Not exactly what we would have suggested. When you read a little deeper, the donations are intended for families facing some type of hardship, like a spouse losing a job, etc. Nothing like asking customers for some generosity. How about a little of your own, Wal-Mart?