TODAY ON AGDAY
NOVEMBER 3, 2011
Good morning. The financial industry is still feeling the fall-out from Monday’s news that MF Global filed for chapter eleven bankruptcy. MF Global is a major commodities trader. It was revealed Monday that MF Global held large positions in Europe's debt. With growing doubt over Europe's plan to contain its debt, the company's debt rating was cut. In response, the CME Group and other exchanges suspended MF Global from trading. Regulatory agencies are now investigating claims that MF Global violated a central tenet of futures brokerages - and that's to keep customer accounts separate from its own funds. Professor Matt Roberts is an agricultural economist at Ohio State University. He's also a visiting economist at the commodity futures trading commission, or CFTC.
MF GLOBAL MATT ROBERTS:
Roberts says people with accounts will be able to retrieve some of their investments. He says they're covered by the securities investor protection corporation, which is similar to FDIC.
The long-awaited free-trade agreement with South Korea isn't getting overwhelming support by that country's legislature. Last week the country's national assembly failed to vote on the agreement. Now South Korea's government is scrambling to find backing. According to its own ministry of strategy and economy, the accord would boost South Korea's trade surplus by nearly three bill dollars annually.
There continues to be rumblings Japan is lifting its beef import restrictions on U.S. beef. A local news source says the changes will be in place within the first half of next year. Japan put age restrictions on U.S. beef back in 2005 after a BSE scare. Those rules only allow for the import of beef from cattle age 20 months or younger. Its expected the country will raise that age to 30 months...following a drop in national production after this year's tsunami and nuclear crisis. Experts say the move could reignite exports to Japan which have suffered since 2003.
Expectations out of Japan are keeping cattle prices solid this week.
Live cattle contracts traded above 122 Wednesday as the December contract continues to climb. It’s getting closer to the all-time high for a front month contract---a record set just a few weeks ago at 123. Cash cattle prices are also strong. Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas sales are hovering around one-19 per pound while Colorado and Nebraska were slightly higher at 121 to 125.
Prices and trade I'm sure will be a big topic at the 2012 cattle industry annual convention and NCBA trade show. Registration for next year's event just opened. The 114th annual convention is slated for February first through the fourth in Nashville Tennessee. Registration can be found at www.beefusa.org.
People transporter, Amtrak says its venture into the cattle business has been a flying success. The company has been trying a cattle based biodiesel in it's heartland flyer train, on runs from Texas to Oklahoma. Amtrak got a grant to try the biodiesel which is made of diesel fuel and beef tallow--a derivative of cow fat. Leaders say if the biofuel continues to prove efficient and economical, Amtrak will likely begin fueling all locomotives with the mixture. You can get many more updates on the beef industry, including market and production information from our partners at www.beeftoday.com.
As the 2011 corn harvest comes to a close, it appears for the most part that corn diseases are limited. Summer drought can often lead to ear rot, which produces aflatoxin. Aflatoxin can have devastating effects on livestock. According to a plant pathologist at Purdue University, many of the common grain diseases are also not in abundance this year. One of those diseases is gibberella rot or jib. It can cause vomitoxin. Farm Journal agronomist Ken Ferrie says if you do have rot or mold, it's not a good idea to put it in the bin.
In agribusiness this morning, industry marketing firms are already releasing their latest supply demand estimates. And so far the trend is toward lower than expected yields. F.C. Stone says it's been a disappointing harvest east of the Mississippi River. It's forecasting a U.S. corn crop at 12.4-5 billion bushels that's down 550 million on a yield average of 148.4. Allendale paints an even gloomier picture, 12.4 billion bushels with yields of 147.8.
Both firms also lowered expectations for soybeans.
IN THE COUNTRY; AGRABILITY:
Living with a disability can be challenging. But imagine the difficulty if you're a farmer. There's a program available to help. It's called Agrability. In this report from the University of Tennessee, Chuck Denney tells us how the program works in the volunteer state. Chuck says a private company called "Life Essentials" does much of the work in transforming farm equipment for disabled producers. Agrability is a nationally recognized program that gets funding from USDA. 25 states have local programs available. Check out their website – www.ability.org. Food and Your Family is next.
FRESHMAN 15 MYTH:
In food and your family this morning, it won't be long until those college kids are back for winter break...and hopefully just as healthy as when they left. A new report is now casting doubt on the legitimacy of the legendary freshman 15. A new study from Ohio State says the average student gains just two and half to three and half pounds during the first year of college.
Authors say the freshman 15 is a media myth. They collected data from more than 7,400 college kids. Breaking it down, only about 10% of college freshmen actually gained the dreaded 15 while about a quarter of students actually lost weight.
America's military may be getting a jolt from future MRE's or meals ready to eat. The Washington Post is reporting military specialists are working to improve the nutrition and energy found in each meal. So they're adding things like caffeine, anti-inflammatories, vitamins and energy supplements. One idea is a beef jerky stick with a coffee cup's worth of caffeine.
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