AgDay Daily Recap - December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011 02:22 AM

DECEMBER 14, 2011

Good morning. Clinton's off for a couple of days. Topping our news, farmers and grain elevator managers put a personal face on the meltdown of MF Global. They testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee which is conducting its own investigation of the MF Global bankruptcy. Those that testified drew a face of despair and lack of confidence not only for MF Global, but for regulators who should have been overseeing the company. During the hearing, members of the Senate Ag Committee heard from farmers, a co-op manager and a grain elevator operator who are all feeling the impact of the MF Global meltdown. The 1.2 billion dollars in missing customer funds has left many farmers, ranchers and agri-businesses in a cash bind because they depended on MF Global to handle their futures trading business. Dean Tofteland raises corn, soybeans and pigs near Luverne, Minnesota. He says he has about 200,000 dollars tied up with MF Global. The committee also heard from the top three executives of MF Global, including former Senator and CEO John Corzine. Corzine says he never told anyone to use customer money to cover-up bad investments. Also appearing were the firm's Chief Operating and Chief Financial Officers. Both have tried to distance themselves from any decision to transfer funds. Brokers are required to keep client money separate from company funds.

In other news October was a strong month for U.S. pork exports. The U.S. meat export federation analyzed export data from the Ag Department. It shows pork exports set a new all-time monthly value record at 574-million dollars. That's up 41% from last year. Those monthly figures pushed the cumulative value through October to a new annual record of nearly five billion dollars...and there are still two months to go. China was the largest volume market for U.S. pork in October, doubling last year’s levels. But Mexico remains the overall top destination for U.S. pork.

A new report from Rabobank says the poultry industry needs to make changes in how it operates to better handle what it sees as permanent and not just cyclical changes. Rabobank's poultry economists say the chicken sector will face higher and more volatile feed input costs. It also says the U.S. poultry industry must address rapid globalization, requiring U.S. companies to develop new products for export markets. It also warns of increasing government regulation. Rabobank says it believes the industry will adjust eventually, but those who survive and thrive in the future will be those who recognize that the operating environment has changed forever.

In Machinery Minute sales of all tractors in the U.S. for November 2011 were up 5% compared to the same month last year. Larger two wheel drive tractors are up 16%. Four wheel drive tractors are up 20% for the month. For the year 2011, sales of larger two-wheel drives are up a half point. While four-wheel-drive tractors are up 6% for the year.

Bruce Sherrer

Joel and Sarah Knoebel incorporated their Pennsylvania hog operation in 2008. It was important to this young couple to make the farm sustainable and a good neighbor. They also wanted to make it a great place to raise a family. And in that short window of time, they've already achieved part of those lofty goals. For their efforts the couple was honored with an environmental steward award from the National Pork Board. In this report from the Pork Check-off, we head to northeast Pennsylvania to meet the Knoebels. Well, it appears 'USDA's My Plate' doesn't look like the plates of most Americans. Details next in Food and Your Family.

It appears very few people come anywhere close to fulfilling the government's recommendation on how to eat healthy every day. Details in Food and Your Family. As many know, USDA changed the federal dietary guidelines from a pyramid to a plate. They devised a graphic interpretation to help folks eat a more balanced diet. Their new guidelines include more healthy oils, increasing whole grains, vegetable and dairy consumption. But according to new data from the NPD group - which tracks eating trends - very few plates come close to resembling USDA's "My Plate". The research firm says for the average consumer, only achieve the USDA dietary guidelines about seven days a year.

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