Top Of Mind: No Good, Very Bad Days

07:16AM Oct 29, 2014
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You may have heard about the recent Disney movie “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good ,Very Bad Day,” an adaptation of Judith Viorst’s beloved 1972 children’s book. In the movie, one darn thing after another threatens to derail the film’s 12-year-old namesake and his family. Cars are smashed. Dad gets set on fire. “I think I’ll move to Australia,” Alexander says.

Farmers seem to be having terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days of their own. More than a few readers have emailed to report that belt-tightening will be severe. Many producers will be OK in 2015, but they aren’t in a good position for 2016. As the market sorts out which farmers will stay in the game and which get out, the situation could become dramatic. 

The “terrible, horrible basis levels that we’re seeing across the whole area are essentially causing a lot of people to be forced into a corner next year because they simply can’t make any money with the basis level as low as it is right now,” notes Jim Bower of Bower Trading. In some areas this fall, producers saw cash corn ranging from $1.55 to $2.50. “You just can’t make that work,” Bower says.

One of the charms of the original book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day” is that Viorst didn’t feel the need to fix Alexander’s problems. She recognized bad things come and go. The same could be said for farming. That’s not to make light of tough times, but low prices have occurred before with higher interest rates. Can we fix the markets immediately? No. Low prices cure low prices. Can producers support each other, share struggles and look for new ideas? Yes!

I urge you to join like-minded producers at one of our winter conferences: Executive Women in Agriculture, Tomorrow’s Top Producer or Top Producer Seminar ( There is comfort in numbers, and more than a few “aha” moments have been realized in times of crisis. 

Join the Cause. One more suggestion: Pick up a pen and paper, and write to your legislator about our failing grain infrastructure that caused much of the price problems this fall. Barge traffic and delayed rail-car deliveries mucked up basis this year. In the upper Corn Belt, for example, prices held until farmers dumped grain into the system with no place to send it. Rail capacity couldn’t support moving ag products out of the North. 

A broken grain infrastructure system is really a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing.