Market Outlook

November 23, 2016 02:51 AM

Ready Your Notebook This Winter 

Join us Jan. 24–27 in Chicago for Top Producer Seminar

If the thought of professional development bores you, consider the 2017 Top Producer Seminar an insightful and engaging alternative. From Jan. 24–27 in downtown Chicago, you’ll participate in an intensive business meeting featuring mainstage and breakout-session speakers from whom you’ll take home a wealth of practical knowledge.

Be Inspired by a Gold-Medal Goalie

You’ll also have a great time in the process. Prepare to sharpen your business skills, learn market trends and borrow ideas from peers. The theme for 2017 will be “Keep Calm, Farm On: Controlling Chaos in Uncertainty.” 

We’ll kick off with an opening networking reception on the evening of Jan. 24. Attend the Top Producer of the Year Award banquet Jan. 25 as we honor three amazing farms.

“Attendees will have access to our industry’s top experts in marketing, risk management, succession planning, crop insurance, conflict resolution and more,” says Sara Schafer, Top Producer Editor. “Start 2017 out informed and ready to seize opportunities.” 

Agenda highlights include:

  •  “Risk and Rewards: A Road Map for Your Farm in 2017,” by Mark Jensen, chief risk officer for Farm Credit Services of America
  • “Contented Cows Give Better Milk—Your People…Your Profits,” by Richard Hadden, author and human resources expert
  • “Farmland Investors: The Emerging Disruptor,” by Paul Pittman, president and CEO of Farmland Partners
  • “The Futue of GMO Labeling: What it Means to You,” by Kelly Johnston, vice president of government affairs for Campbell Soup Co.
  • “How President Trump Will Affect Your Farm,” by Jim Wiesemeyer, senior vice president, Washington Bureau, Informa Economics
  • “Straight Talk, Straight Actions: Agriculture in a Changing Economy,” by David Kohl, Virginia Tech professor emeritus and AgriVisions president
  • “The New Reality of the Grain Global Marketplace,” by Jerry Gulke, The Gulke Group

An early-bird registration fee of $489 is available until Dec. 31. After that, registration costs $599. Learn more and register now at

Policy Update with Mike Adams

After 2016 Election, Question Becomes: Now What?


It’s finally over. The seemingly endless campaign ended up in an upset for the ages. Donald Trump, like the Chicago Cubs, shocked the world. Voters chose the hope of something better over what many felt would be more of the same. Along the way, Donald Trump promised much. Now can he deliver? 

Many farmers who looked past their concerns with Trump’s position on trade deals wait now to see if he really will pull out of NAFTA and negotiate a better deal. What does this mean for the Trans-Pacific Partnership? Will he actually name a farmer to be head of EPA? Will he stop the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule? Will the death tax be repealed? Who will be his secretary of agriculture, and what will happen to the migrant work force that agriculture so greatly depends on?

This election answered a few questions but left us with many more. We are now in unchartered waters and no one knows how this will turn out. The ultimate political outsider is now on the inside. 

Will it make a difference? We now live in a different political world—hopefully, a better one.

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

By Nate Birt

Ask an Analyst: Dave Fogel  | Advance Trading


<​strong>What is your commodity marketing philosophy?
It’s about people. We entered the farmer marketing space in 1984 to try to figure out individuals’ risk and manage it. Our philosophy is: What is your price risk? How can we ward off that risk and take advantage of opportunities the market gives you? Price is unpredictable. Manage risk, don’t try to guess price direction.

What distinguishes your consulting firm from others?
What distinguishes us is our understanding of how to merge cash prices with futures and options. There aren’t many people who understand cash markets. 

What’s one action producers should take to manage commodity marketing risk?
Some farmers store their crop and walk away from it. I don’t believe in taking time off in terms of what my risk is. If I’ve got corn stored, what am I going to do if it goes down 50¢? What if it goes up 50¢? I think they should be looking out 18 months at a time. We’re having lots of conversations about getting the 2017 crop sold. Consider using put options to defend lower prices while being wide open to higher prices. 

What percentage sold should farmers be on their crops?
I’m not a believer in scale-up selling. The years I’ve watched people try to scale-up sell, it seems like we sell too much when the market goes up and we run out of bushels. We never sell enough when it goes down. You have to use options because you don’t know your cost of production next year.  

Which marketing tool is most underappreciated? 
Options are underappreciated. Before we start using options, we teach farmers what they do. The management of options really dictates what you’ll do. Cash sales aren’t made for the right reasons. Often, they’re sold because farmers are bearish, bullish or need money. Selling a cash bushel should be 
an economic decision.  

Who is one expert in our industry whose business advice you respect greatly?
My former boss, Frank Beurskens, taught me a lot about this business. 

What activities do you enjoy? 
Family would be No. 1. My family will tell you I spend a lot of time on the golf course when I’m not working. 

By Nate Birt

Think Outside the Profit Box

If you’ve been feeling boxed in by commodity prices, massive global grain supplies and the possibility of an encroaching demand ceiling, Steve Nicholson of Rabo AgriFinance encourages you to think outside the box.

“We know the gloom and doom, we know all of the financial stress, so let’s think farther ahead,” says Nicholson, analyst for the organization’s grains and oilseeds division. “How can we solve this? One thing that’s been really interesting to us are all the potential opportunities.”

Among the possible revenue channels for U.S. farmers is the growing market for organic and alternative crops.

“We import most of our organic corn and soybeans in the U.S.,” Nicholson tells “AgDay” TV. “Why are we not producing that? I know a farmer who has chia seed that can be grown in the U.S. He has the chia seed in his machine shed but has no market and place to go with it.”

Consumers also have expressed interest in meatless proteins (see page 34 for more details) such as those produced by a company called Beyond Meat, which makes food from French pea protein.

“We could produce that here in the U.S.,” he says. “Those are good examples of things where we need to connect the farmer with the food industry to be a more profitable producer.”

Another tip: be smart about capturing basis gains.

“Think like an elevator,” Nicholson says. “An elevator trades futures purely as a hedge. It’s not one of those things they make money on. They make the money in the basis [based on] how they buy it and how they sell it.”

By Anna-Lisa Laca

Why Now is a good time to Ease your Farm Workers’ Minds

If U.S. farm operators are nervous about profitability in 2017, farm workers might be even more anxious about their financial security in light of the recent presidential election. 

During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump touted extreme immigration reform. He has suggested deporting scores of people, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and more. So it’s crucial for farmers to now reassure their Hispanic employees.

“There is no need to make a quick decision or do anything at this time,” announced the American Dairy Coalition in a statement issued just days before the election. “Regardless of who is elected president, they won’t be inaugurated until Jan. 20, 2017.”

It’s unlikely the Senate could find the 60 votes needed for “a bill of this nature” to pass, the coalition says. In addition, the federal immigration and homeland security departments don’t have the staff or money needed to conduct mass deportation of immigrants.

Trump likely won’t focus on immigration in his first 100 days in office, the group says. Farmers should encourage employees a wait-and-see approach is best at this time. 

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