Market Outlook

January 6, 2016 02:59 AM

By Nate Birt

Glean Market Insights From the Experts You Trust the Most

The 2016 Top Producer Seminar kicks off in late January in downtown Chicago, and producers can expect to hear from experts in marketing, business management and many other topics. 

There’s plenty of negativity about the ag economy these days, but don’t expect that to be the focus of this event. Instead, come to learn about the opportunities for better farm management and leadership in the new year. 

Among the brand new features attendees can anticipate during the event running Jan. 27 through Jan. 29 is an in-depth main stage session with Jerry Gulke, president of The Gulke Group, and a Top Producer columnist. He will share his insights about markets in the new year alongside moderator Pam Fretwell, host of the “Top Producer Podcast.”

Producers will receive a wealth of additional market insights from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect starting Wednesday, Jan. 27:

Jason Henderson of Purdue University will discuss how to position your business for long-term success.

Bill Kirk of Weather Trends will share his weather outlook for the year and review potential commodity price implications.

Jim Sutter of the U.S. Soybean Export Council will challenge producers to think globally about U.S. customers. 

Mike Walsten of LandOwner newsletter will moderate a panel on the trajectory of land values, featuring panelists Jim Farrell of Farmers National Company, Stephen Kenney of Hancock Agricultural Investment Group and RD Schrader of Schrader Real Estate and Auction. 

That’s only the first day. On Thursday, Jan. 28, you’ll watch live as “U.S. Farm Report” tapes its latest marketing roundtable segment featuring Chip Flory of “Market Rally,” Chip Nellinger of Blue Reef Agri-Marketing and Bill Biedermann of Allendale. Then dive into a comprehensive series of breakout sessions about mergers and acquisitions, tax planning, crop insurance, succession planning and beyond. 

To learn more or to register, visit Don’t miss this extensive business education and networking chance. 

By Mike Adams

Policy Update with Mike Adams

EPA Announces Split Decision on Renewable Fuels

EPA’s long awaited and long overdue decision to set renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) did little to settle the heated debate over biofuels, and it still leaves the statute’s future in some question. 


Although the ruling increases blending requirements overall to 18.1 billion gallons, including 14.5 billion gallons for corn ethanol, that level is lower than called for in the original statute. 

Biofuels supporters acknowledge the increase but are concerned about potential harm to future investments and limits on consumer fuel choices. The oil industry claims there isn’t demand for higher ethanol blends and that EPA is forcing them on the public. 

Ironically, the decision to lower RFS levels came as climate negotiators, led by the Obama administration, began putting together a climate treaty to reduce greenhouse gases even as biofuels have helped reduce U.S. emissions since the implementation of the RFS. 

Perhaps the biggest winner in the decision was the biodiesel industry, as the new rule slightly increases required levels of that fuel for the next two years. Although final, the rule will continue to be debated in Congress and perhaps in the courts. 

Some say a good agreement leaves both sides somewhat unhappy. If so, it was a good ruling, but many would disagree, depending on whether they view the fuel tank as half empty or half full.

Hear “AgriTalk” each weekday at 10:06 a.m. CST on the MyFarmRadio app or at

By Nate Birt

Ask an Analyst: Dale Durchholz | AgriVisor


What is your commodity marketing philosophy? We try to construct our basic strategies for conservative marketers. We then layer other tools on top of that for more advanced marketers. We look at economies of the U.S. and world to distill what that means for commodity economics. 

What distinguishes your advisory firm from others? We’ve been in this business since 1973. We wholesale our services to Iowa and Illinois Farm Bureaus. We offer over-the-counter cash grain contracts through Growmark Member Companies.

What’s one action every producer should take to manage commodity marketing risk? Use basis contracts. Structure them to where they give you enough time in the future for opportunities to unfold.  

What percentage sold should producers be on their crops? For the 2015 crop, we’re at 15% sold on corn and 25% sold on soybeans. On 2016 crops, I don’t recommend having anything sold. When I’m this close to what I perceive as the low side of a larger range, why would I want to market a crop out in front of me that I know nothing about?

Which marketing tool is most underappreciated? Producers need to learn and understand price cycles. I use 20- and 40-week cycles on corn. If I can avoid making sales at the low, I’m improving my return.

In terms of industry experts,  whose business advice do you respect greatly? I think the publications that come out of the University of Illinois through farmdocdaily are among the most important offerings that producers need to be taking advantage of. The other person that’s really important for the producer is Dr. David Kohl of Virginia Tech University. 

When you aren’t thinking about commodities, what activities do you enjoy most? I read a lot of history. It helps put today in perspective.  


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