USFR Weekly Recap - July 23-24

July 25, 2011 08:19 AM
 

THIS WEEK ON U.S. FARM REPORT
EPISODE #1980
JULY 23-24, 2011

JOHN’S OPEN: HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT EXPERIENCES FOR A FARMER IS TO RICOCHET FROM ONE EXTREME PROBLEM TO ANOTHER. THAT'S JUST WHAT MANY FARMERS WHO STRUGGLED WITH SOGGY FIELDS THIS SPRING ARE DOING AS TRIPLE-DIGIT TEMPERATURES WITHER THEIR POTENTIAL YIELD. IT'S NOT HELPING THAT WEATHER MODELS ARE SHOWING THEIR INHERENT FORECASTING WEAKNESSES BY OFFERING A WIDE RANGE OF OUTCOMES. THE RESULT IS A CROP YEAR OF PERSISTENT CONFUSING EMOTIONS FOR PRODUCERS. BUT IF IT IS ANY HELP, OVERWHELMING HISTORICAL EVIDENCE SHOWS OUR FEARS ARE USUALLY OVERBLOWN, AND OUR HOPES UNDERVALUED. THESE ARE THE MOMENTS THAT WILL SWEETEN THE JOY OF GOOD YEARS. TIME NOW FOR THE HEADLINES.....HERE'S AL PELL.

HEAT AND CORN: THANKS JOHN. FROM THE SOUTHERN PLAINS TO THE EAST COAST, PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR RELIEF FROM A LONG STRETCH OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HUMIDITY. EXTREME HEAT ACROSS THE MIDWEST IS STRESSING CROPS, AND TRIMMING PROSPECTS FOR GOOD YIELDS. MUCH OF THE CROP IS ENTERING POLLINATION. HIGH TEMPERATURES AND LACK OF RAIN CAN REDUCE THE CROP SIZE EACH DAY. WE TALKED WITH A GROUP OF FARMERS ATTENDING FARM JOURNAL'S CORN COLLEGE HELD THIS WEEK NEAR BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS. WHILE LEARNING HOW TO IMPROVE FUTURE CROPS, THEY CAN'T HELP BUT THINK ABOUT THE CURRENT CROP. A USDA METEOROLOGIST TOLD US THAT WE MAY GET A BREAK THIS WEEK, BUT HE SEES ANOTHER CHANCE FOR A SIMILAR HEAT WAVE HITTING THE CORN BELT AGAIN IN AUGUST.

CATTLE IMPACT: MEANWHILE THE BLISTERING TEMPERATURES ARE TAKING A TOLL ON LIVESTOCK, ESPECIALLY BLACK- HIDED CATTLE IN FEED LOTS. OUR REPORTING PARTNERS AT DAIRY TODAY, SAY MORE THAN A THOUSAND CATTLE IN MINNESOTA DIED THIS WEEK AS THE HEAT INDEX REACHED 115-DEGREES. IN SOUTH DAKOTA, AN ESTIMATED 1,500 CATTLE HAVE DIED. LIVESTOCK SPECIALISTS SAY PART OF THE PROBLEM STEMS FROM EVENING TEMPERATURES THAT ARE NOT COOLING-OFF MUCH, ALLOWING THE ANIMALS TO RECUPERATE.

CROP WATCH:  CROP WATCH THIS WEEK IS A THREE STATE SWING. IN CENTRAL LOUISIANA CORN HARVEST IS JUST GETTING STARTED. YIELDS DON'T LOOK GOOD, RANGING FROM 35 TO 100-BUSHELS AN ACRE. CORN USUALLY MAKES 140. IN SOUTHWEST PENNSYLVANIA GROWER SAID CROPS LOOK GOOD THIS HAVE BEEN GETTING RAIN WITH MOST DAYS IN THE MID80'S. IF THE PATTERN CONTINUES WE SHOULD BE SHELLING A LOT OF 200- BUSHEL CORN. A GROWER IN CHESTER COUNTY TENNESSEE SAID COTTON CONTINUES TO DO WELL. HE SAID 80% IS GOOD, TENNESSEE SEEMS TO BE ONE OF THE FEW BRIGHT SPOTS IN SOUTHEAST. U.S.D.A. SAID ONLY 20% OF 9 NATION'S COTTON CROP IS IN THAT CONDITION.

ROUNDTABLE:  OUR MARKETS ROUND TABLE TAKES US TO MALCOLM IOWA SITE OF A CORN STRATEGIES MEETING. THE PANEL INCLUDES CLIP FLORY, SUE MARTIN, AND JIM BOWER. LET'S START AS ALWAYS, THIS IS THE TIME OF YEAR WHEN WE ARE KIND OF OUT OF BIG REPORTS, SO CHIP WE ARE ALL PAYING ATTENTION TO THE CROP CONDITION RATING I'M CONCERNED THAT THOSE NUMBERS LOOK LIKE REAL DATA AND THEY MIGHT BE FEEDING THOSE INTO FORMULAS. WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF HOW IMPORTANT ARE THEY? THEY ARE VERY IMPORTANT AND THE MORE MONEY THAT ROLLS IN TO THE MARKET WITH A LOWER LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING OF WHAT REALLY IS GOING ON OUT IN THE FIELD, THEY COME MORE AND MORE IMPORTANT. THOSE GUY THAT JUST HAVE THE SYSTEMS IN PLACE THAT ARE MANAGING MILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF INVESTMENT IN THE COMMODITIES, SOON AS THEY COME IN, THEY ARE PLUGGING IT IN AND IT'S --TELLING THEM WHETHER THEY SHOULD BELONG OR SHORT. WE HAD A DECLINE IN THE INDEX. THAT SURPRISE YOU? NO. I DON'T THINK IT DID. THE REASON IT DIDN'T WAS THERE WAS JUST ENOUGH WIND DAMAGE, JUST ENOUGH HEAT. THE GUYS MAKING THE OBSERVATIONS THEY CAN ARE OUT THERE DRIVING AROUND IN THE HOT CONDITIONS, THEY KNOW WHAT THAT CORN CROP IS GOING THROUGH. NOW WITH THE DOWN TURN IT'S KIND OF DIFFICULT TO TURN IT BACK AROUND AND GET IT POINTED BACK IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. CAN BE GAIN IT BACK? LET'S LOOK AT THE NUMBERS CLOSER, THE U.S.D.A. USING 158.7 ON THE CROP REPORT. LAST YEAR IT WAS 152.8. THE CROP IS RATED AT THIS MOMENT LESS OPTIMAL THAN A YEAR AGO. SOMETHING EVENTUALLY HAS TO BE WORKED THROUGH LIKE CHIP SAID, WE HAVE TO GET TO THE POINT WHERE IT DOES MATCH BECAUSE IT DOESN'T MATCH NOW. THAT'S WHY I THINK --THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS WE GET IT CLARIFIED. I THINK IT'LL DECLINE ON MONDAY AND A GOOD ONE THIS COMING MONDAY BECAUSE WE HAVE TO REMEMBER ILLINOIS AND INDIANA BOTH DECLINED 6%. THAT WAS A BIG JUMP. IT WAS. ONE MORE THING ON THIS CROP REPORT, IF YOU LOOK AT THAT YIELD, AT 158.7, IF YOU TAKE JUST TWO BUSHELS TO THE ACRE OFF THAT, YOU NOW HAVE A CARRY OUT INSTEAD OF A 70, 870 MILLION-BUSHELS YOU DROP THAT DOWN TO 373 MILLION-BUSHELS. WE CAN'T DO THAT. NO. ISN'T THERE --500 STILL A WORKING NUMBER? 148 I THINK YOU HAVE TO MIND A NEGATIVE CARRY OVER. WE HAVE TO GET A BETTER BASIS. MY BASIS JUST WENT TO 85 OVER. NEVER SEEN THAT. LOOK AT WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE GULF. THAT'S ANOTHER VERY IMPORTANT POINT THE BASIS OF THE GULF INDICATES EVEN AT THIS FUTURE'S PRICE WE STILL HAVE DEMAND COMING TO THE MARKET. LAST TIME TO REALLY SHUT DOWN DEMAND WE HAD TO GET FUTURES PRICED OVER 750. WE AREN'T THERE, WE ARE CLOSE BUT WE HAVE TO GET BACK OVER 70. I'M CONCERNED THAT CORN ISN'T IN THE RIGHT PLACE AND THAT'S WHAT THOSE ARE SHOW US. FRIEND OF MINE SAID THEY ARE ANTICIPATING A $2 OVER FOR SEPTEMBER CORN. AM I MAKING IT UP? THE OTHER THING THAT'S WRONG IS IN A TRUE BULL MARKET, THE FRONT MONTH SHOULD LEAD, RIGHT NOW THAT HASN'T BEEN HAPPENING. SOME OF THE BEAR SPREAD HAVE BEEN ONGOING MAKING MORE CONFUSING. AS JOHN SAID THE BASIS IS 35 TO PLUS 85 IN SOMEPLACES. SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT. THE MARKET WILL EVENTUALLY FIGURE IT OUT THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT STRONG A BASIS AND HAVE A WEAK MARKET. AND THE NEXT THING IS THAT WHEN WE GET INTO AFTER THE SURVEY, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A REVISION ON THE ACRES. NO. NO SURELY. I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY WOULD COME BACK AND MESS WITH THE NUMBERS AGAIN. THAT'S SOMETHING WE AREN'T EVEN TALKING ABOUT WITH THE CARRY OUTS WHERE THEY ARE. CORN OR SOYBEAN. THIS MARKET IS REALLY I THINK WHAT YOU HAVE IS A HANGOVER OF ALL THE RHETORIC THAT'S POLITICAL FROM WHAT IS GOING ON IN CONGRESS. RIGHT. YOU HAVE CONCERN ABOUT EUROPE AND CHINA, YOU KNOW WHAT'S AMAZING TO ME IS IT'S ALL ABOUT THE RHETORIC AND HOW THEY SPIN IT BUT THEY TALK ABOUT CHINA SLOWING. THEY ARE SLUG HALF A PER PERCENT. I WOULD TAKE A HALF POINT OFF MINE. CHINA IS LOOKING AT ADDING BETWEEN 60 AND 70 MILLION CARS A YEAR IN THE NEXT TEN YEARS THIS HAVE INCREASED LAST YEAR ALONE JUMPED 38% FROM THE YEAR BEFORE. WHERE OUR PRODUCTION ON CARS DROPPED 28% TO THE LOWEST LEVEL SINCE 2001.  RIGHT. WE ARE SEEING THINGS WHEN THEY TALK CHINA, MAYBE A HAIR. THE GOVERNMENT HAS NOT BEEN SUCCESSFUL AT SLOWING THE CHAIN DOWN AND THAT IS WHEN INCIDENT DEMAND IS STILL THERE. IT IS. THEY ARE INCREASING THE PRODUCTION. THEY ARE PAYING HOG PRODUCERS $15.50 A HOG JUST TO BREED THEM. WE WILL TALK ABOUT THAT WHEN WE COME BACK. BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT 2012, I'M A LITTLE CONCERNED THAT ALL THIS DOUBLE CROP SOYBEANS ARE SITTING THERE IN A LOT OF DRY DIRT AND THEY --THE ACRES ARE NOT REALLY THERE. WE TALKED ABOUT THIS, I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS WE NEED TO WATCH IS THE SOYBEANS. THE SOYBEANS IN OHIO, INDIANA, KENTUCKY, AREA THAT HAVE BEEN DOUBLE CROPPED IN BEHIND THIS WHEAT THAT CAME OFF ABOUT FIVE TO SIX DAYS EARLY. IT STARTED OUT BEAUTIFUL. WE HAVEN'T HAD A DROP OF RAIN IN INDIANAPOLIS IN SOME TIME AND THERE IS A BIG PROBLEM THERE. KEEP IN MIND THAT SOYBEAN TABLE FROM A SUPPLY DEMAND STANDPOINT THAT IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE MARKET IS VERY TIGHT. JUST A TWO BUSHEL PER ACRE YIELD LOSS OFF THE LINE. THE DOUBLE CROP BEANS AREN'T DOING WELL. THE DOUBLE CROP BEANS WERE MAKING UP A BIG PIECE OF THE ACRES THIS YEAR BECAUSE OF THE BIG INCREASE IN THE WINTER WHEAT. LET'S TRY TO JUST --IT'S A TIME OF YEAR WE JUST PASSED THE HALFWAY MARK. GUYS ARE LOOK AT 2012. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIM APPLY INDICATIONS THAT YOU SEE FOR OUR SITUATION NOW, FOR THE PLANTING FOR 2012. SUE TOUCHED ON IT. WE ARE TIGHTENING THE 11, 12 CARRY OVER AND AS WE DO THAT, WE ARE JUST MAKING --REMOVING THE CUSHION, THE SUPPLY SIDE CUSHION FOR THE 12 MARKETING YEAR. KEEP IN MIND WHEN WE STARTED THIS MARKETING YEAR WE STARTED 1.7-BUSHELS OF CORN. THE NEXT WILL BE --800, 900 MILLION. WHATEVER IT IS. WHEN WE START THIS 12 MARKETS YEAR WE MAY BE STARTING WITH 600, 700 MILLION. CONDITIONS ARE VERY TIGHT. YOU HAVE TO BE BULL ISSUE, HAVE YOU TO STAY --YOU HAVE TO STAY CONSERVATIVE IN MARKETING, ROLL THE DICE AND LET --KEEP THE POWDER DRY ON SALES. LETS GO BACK TO BEANS FOR A SECOND AND WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT LOSING TWO BUSHELS TO THE ACRE, FIRST IF YOU -- 43.4-BUSHEL ITS AN HACK --YOU TAKE ONE OFF AND IT'S A CARRY OUT OF 100 MILLION-BUSHELS. YOU TAKE --THAT WOULD BE LIKE A STOCK RATIO OF 3.1. THERE IS THREE IN IOWA. DROP AT AND IT'S 41.5- BUSHELS TO THE ACRE WHICH COULD HAPPEN WITH THE WEATHER. YOU ARE NOW TALKING TO --A 26 MILLION-BUSHEL CARRY OUT ON BEANS. IT'S A 1% --IT WON'T HAPPEN. PRICE WILL GO HIGH ENOUGH TO RATION IT. YOU WILL HAVE HIGH PRICES. GIVE ME ONE THING I SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHEN I GET THE SPREAD SHEET. INPUT COSTS. YEAH. PRICE OF GAS, $3.67, A GALLON. IT'S WELL UP TO WHERE IT WAS, FERTILIZER, CHEMICAL, SEED, DIESEL FUEL. THE GRAIN PRICES MOVE UP. MOST LIKELY INPUT COSTS WILL MOVE WITH IT. I WOULD WORK ON INPUT COSTS RIGHT NOW. ISN'T THAT THE BUSINESS METHOD --ESPECIALLY FOR FERTILIZER? ABSOLUTELY. THEY AREN'T LIKE NATURAL GAS IS GETTING MORE EXPENSIVE. THAT'S RIGHT. YOU CAN TAKE A --NITROGEN PRICED CHARGES, POTASH, WHATEVER, YOU CAN LAY IT OVER THE PRICE OF CORN AND JUST SLIDE CORN BACK SIX MONTH AND THEY MATCH UP. IF YOU CAN GET A BID FROM YOUR SUPPLIER WOULD YOU LOCK UP? IN YOU START PRICING OUT DECEMBER 12 CORN LET'S SAY IN THE 650 AREA, 630. SELL CORN, BUY FERTILIZER. START THE PROCESS, IT'S ONGOING. THE THING THAT IS MAYBE NEGATIVE IS WE AREN'T OPERATING FROM FIVE DOLLAR CORN OR NINE OR TEN DOLLAR SOYBEANS, IT'S A HIGHER LEVEL NOW FOR THE MARKET DOESN'T TRADE --IT DOESN'T TRADE THE SAME AS IF IT WAS AT THE LOWER LEVEL. YOUR AWARENESS BUTON HAS TO BE UP HIGHER. THATS ALL FOR NOW. WE WILL BE BACK IN JUST A MOMENT.

JOHN’S WORLD: OUR FIRST INSTINCT THESE DAYS IS TO CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST IN THE MORNING - OR IN MY CASE - SEVERAL DIFFERENT FORECASTS. MANY OF US ARE ALSO FOLLOWING CLOSELY THE DEBT LIMIT STRUGGLE IN WASHINGTON. THE CASUAL ASSUMPTION THAT THE DEBATE WAS SIMPLY A HIGH DRAMA PUT ON FOR ELECTORAL AMMUNITION IS STARTING TO FADE AS THE POSSIBILITY OF DEFAULT IS NOT ONLY BECOMING MORE PROBABLE BUT SOME VOICES ACTUALLY ARE SUPPORTING THE IDEA. THE CONSERVATIVE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, FOR EXAMPLE, CONSIDERS DEFAULT ON OUR DEBT TO BE A PRICE THEY ARE WILLING TO PAY TO FORCE RADICAL RESTRUCTURING OF AMERICAN GOVERNMENT. THIS ASTOUNDING ASSERTION FOR A SO-CALLED THINK-TANK IS DISCOURAGING. ECONOMISTS HAVE OVERWHELMINGLY AND STRONGLY WARNED THAT DEFAULT WOULD BE FINANCIALLY CATASTROPHIC. SIMPLY LOWERING THE RATING OF U.S. BONDS WOULD TRIGGER AUTOMATIC SALES BY PENSION FUNDS AND OTHER HOLDERS REQUIRED TO HOLD ONLY AAA-RATED DEBT. THE CASCADE EFFECTS WOULD DELIVER A GDP DECREASE OF OVER 130 BILLION DOLLARS IMMEDIATELY, PLUNGING US BACK INTO RECESSION, RAISING UNEMPLOYMENT, DECREASING TAX REVENUES, AND OVERLOADING AN ALREADY FRAYED SAFETY NET. THE IDEA THAT ANY OF US WOULD ESCAPE THE CONSEQUENCES IS FOLLY, AND THAT INCLUDES THOSE OF US IN THE BOOMING FARM SECTOR. FROM CONSUMER DEMAND TO DYSFUNCTIONAL CAPITAL MARKETS, OUR BRIGHT FUTURE WOULD DIM AS WELL. CHECKING THE WEATHER FORECAST COULD SOON BE THE SECOND THING WE DO EACH MORNING. LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.... SEND EMAILS TO MAILBAG@USFARMREPORT.COM OR CALL AND LEAVE US A VOICE MAIL.

2ND HALF:
JOHN’S OPEN:
HELLO AND WELCOME TO U.S. FARM REPORT, I'M JOHN PHIPPS. THERE IS A PECULIAR PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF DROUGHTS THAT MAKES THEM SURPRISINGLY LESS STRESSFUL THAN MIGHT BE EXPECTED. UNLIKE PROLONGED WET SPELLS, WHEN FARMERS ARE FRUSTRATED BY CLOUDY SKIES AND PERSISTENT RAIN, DROUGHTS AT LEAST FEATURE LOTS OF SUNNY DAYS, AND OUR BRAINS RESPOND TO BRIGHT DAYS BETTER THAN CLOUDY ONES. THOSE WHO STRUGGLE THROUGH SHORT DARK DAYS DURING WINTER UNDERSTAND THE EFFECT SUNLIGHT CAN HAVE ON OUR ATTITUDE, AND DESPITE THE WITHERING HEAT, I FIND I CAN KEEP MY HOPES UP BETTER IN THE SUN. IT IS A SMALL, BUT REAL COMPENSATION FOR OUR WORRIES. STILL I THINK I COULD HANDLE SOME WET, GLOOMY DAYS SOON. LET'S GET STARTED WITH THE HEADLINES AND AL PELL...

HEAT AND CATTLE: THANK YOU JOHN. MUCH OF THE NATION IS STRUGGLING THROUGH A WEEK-LONG STREAK OF HIGH TEMPERATURES AND HUMIDITY. BUT FOR LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS IN THE NATION'S TOP CATTLE STATE, DROUGHT AND HEAT HAVE BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR MONTHS...AND IT COULD EVENTUALLY COST YOU MORE AT THE SUPERMARKET. TEXAS RANCHERS ARE SELLING OFF LARGE NUMBERS OF THEIR HERDS BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF GRAZING AND SHRINKING SURFACE WATER. RANCHERS ARE FORCED TO FEED HAY, WHICH IS USUALLY RESERVED FOR LATER THIS YEAR. NOW, HAY IS HARD TO FIND. AND WHEN YOU DO, IT'S EXPENSIVE. THE TEXAS FARM BUREAU SAYS LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS ARE SELLING SOME OF THEIR YOUNGER CATTLE THAT WOULD FORM THE CORE OF FUTURE PRODUCTION. AT SOME AUCTION BARNS, THE CATTLE COUNT IS TWICE THE NUMBER THAN NORMAL. THE TEXAS EXTENSION SAYS IN SOME CASES, AUCTION MARKETS ARE TURNING AWAY PRODUCERS BECAUSE OF THE HIGH VOLUME OF ANIMALS.

USDA OUTLOOK: WHILE MOST PEOPLE DON'T WELCOME THE IDEA OF A TROPICAL STORM, AN AG DEPARTMENT METEOROLOGIST SAYS A WELL-PLACED STORM COULD BRING RELIEF TO PARTS OF THE NATION SOCKED BY HEAT AND DRY WEATHER.

VEGGIE PRICES: MEANWHILE, RECORD 'COLD' TEMPERATURES IN FLORIDA AND ARIZONA THIS PAST WINTER TOOK A TOLL ON FRESH PRODUCE - ESPECIALLY TOMATOES AND LETTUCE. AS A RESULT, PRICES ROSE. NOW THOSE PRICES ARE SETTLING BACK DOWN. AVERAGE NATIONWIDE RETAIL FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PRICES FELL FOUR-TENTHS OF A PERCENT FROM MAY TO JUNE. FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PRICES HAVE DECLINED AS PRODUCTION RETURNED TO NORMAL LEVELS. WHILE CUSTOMERS MAY ENJOY THOSE MONTHLY PRICE DROPS, THE PRICE FOR THE FRESH PRODUCE IS STILL ABOVE LAST YEAR'S LEVELS. THE CONSUMER PRICE INDEX PEGS FRESH PRODUCE AT NEARLY 6% HIGHER THAN A YEAR AGO.

FOOD DESERTS: SOME OF THE BIGGEST RETAILERS IN THE COUNTRY HAVE PLEDGED TO PUT HEALTHY FOOD INTO PARTS OF THE COUNTRY THAT ARE UNDER-SERVED BY STORES. WAL-MART AND THE SUPER-VALU CHAIN SAY THEY WILL OPEN HUNDREDS OF GROCERY STORES OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS IN AREAS THAT ARE CONSIDERED "FOOD DESERTS." THESE ARE LOW-INCOME AREAS WHERE FRESH AND HEALTHY FOOD CHOICES ARE HARD TO FIND. THE U.S. DEPARTMENT SAYS THESE DESERTS ARE IN BOTH URBAN AND RURAL AREAS. WALMART SAYS IT'LL OPEN 300 STORES IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS. WALGREENS IS ALSO PART OF THE PROGRAM. THE PHARMACY CHAIN VOWS TO MAKE FRESH FRUIT, WHOLE GRAINS AND BAGGED SALADS AVAILABLE IN ABOUT A THOUSAND OF THEIR STORES...WHAT THEY CALL "OASIS" STORES.

CAMPBELL’S SOUP SALT: WHILE MOST MAJOR FOOD MAKERS HAVE BEEN REMOVING SODIUM FROM THEIR FOOD PRODUCTS, IT APPEARS CAMPBELLS MAY BE GOING THE OTHER WAY. CAMPBELLS SOUP COMPANY SAID LAST WEEK DURING AN INVESTOR MEETING THAT IT WOULD ADD SALT BACK INTO MANY OF ITS RECIPES. THIS IS IN REPONSE TO "LUKE-WARM" SALES. THE BIG SOUP MAKER HAS SEEN ITS CORE SOUP SALES SLIDE IN RECENT YEARS. LAST MONTH THEY ANNOUNCED NEARLY 800 WORKERS WOULD BE LET-GO. LIKE MANY COMPANIES, IT LOWERED SODIUM LEVELS. BUT INCOMING CEO DENISE MORRISON SAYS SODIUM REDUCTIONS HAVE GONE TOO FAR, IMPACTING TASTE AND CONSUMER DEMAND. THE COMPANY SAYS IT WILL STILL OFFER SOME REDUCED SODIUM SOUPS IN THEIR PRODUCT LINES.

HEARTLAND POTTERY: MANKIND HAS BEEN MAKING DISHES, CUPS AND BOWLS OUT OF CLAY FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. TODAY THE POTTERY CRAFT LIVES ON WITH THE CREATION OF BEAUTIFUL AND USEABLE WORKS OF ART...SOME COMING COURTESY OF YOUNG HANDS. IN THIS REPORT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, CHUCK DENNEY OUTLINES THE LESSONS LEARNED THROUGH CLAY AND CREATIVITY.  THANKS CHUCK. EACH CHILD COMPLETES SEVERAL PROJECTS AS PART OF THE CLASS. NEXT WEEK WE TRAVEL TO THE LONESTAR STATE WHERE THIS GROUP OF CO-EDS IS HITTING THE FIELD. ATHLETICISM IS NOT REQUIRED...JUST THE DESIRE TO "SCORE BIG" FOR FOOD SECURITY. THAT STORY NEXT WEEK ON "SPIRIT OF THE HEARTLAND".

ETHANOL NASCAR: THE AMERICAN ETHANOL INDUSTRY IS TAKING THE "CHECKERED FLAG" ALL THIS SUMMER AT NASCAR TRACKS ACROSS THE COUNTRY. THOSE POWERFUL CARS ARE USING A NEW BLEND OF E-15 FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR. AT THE INAUGURAL RACE LAST MONTH, MORE THAN A THOUSAND CORN FARMERS AND ETHANOL SUPPORTERS CONVERGED AT THE KANSAS SPEEDWAY TO TALK ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF THIS HOMEGROWN FUEL. REGIONAL REPORTER MICHELLE ROOK GOES TRACKSIDE FOR THE STORY. ETHANOL INDUSTRY OFFICIALS HOPE NASCAR WILL PUSH TO HIGHER BLENDS IN THE FUTURE. FOR NOW THEY LIKE PROMOTING E-15 BECAUSE EPA HAS APPROVED IT FOR USE IN THE NATION'S FLEET. UP NEXT, COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE AND TRACTOR TALES. PLEASE STAY WITH US.

TRACTOR TALES: AL REJOINS US NOW...WHAT'S ON TAP FOR THIS WEEK'S TRACTOR TALES? JOHN, WE'RE OFF TO THE SUNSHINE STATE FOR A ONE-OF-A-KIND CLASSIC. WHEN THIS TRACTOR WAS PURCHASED BRAND NEW, IT CAME TO THE OWNER WITH "SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED". THIS FARM-ALL STYLE TRACTOR WAS ORDERED DIRECT FROM A SEARS AND ROEBUCK CATALOGUE. THANKS TED. AN UPDATE NOW ON 'TRACTOR DAVE'. WE BROUGHT YOU HIS STORY A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO. DAVE IS DRIVING HIS 1937 CO-OP TRACTOR ACROSS AMERICA TO RAISE MONEY FOR SEVERAL DISASTER RELIEF PROGRAMS. YOU CAN FOLLOW HIS PROGRESS ON OUR WEBSITE. THIS WEEKEND HE'S TRAVELING THRU PRINSBURG, MINNESOTA. WE WISH HIM SAFE TRAVELS.

CHURCH SALUTE: TODAY'S COUNTRY CHURCH SALUTE GOES TO THE DEKALB CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN DEKALB, MISSOURI. THE CONGREGATION IS CELEBRATING ITS 125TH ANNIVERSARY NEXT WEEKEND. THE CHURCH WAS OFFICIALLY ORGANIZED IN 1886. A LOT WAS PURCHASED AND A BUILDING ERECTED FOR THE PRINCELY SUM OF 800 DOLLARS. THE CHURCH GREW AND ITS NEW HOME WAS DEDICATED IN 1903. MANY DESCENDANTS OF THE FOUNDING MEMBERS ARE STILL ACTIVE TODAY. DEKALB CHRISTIAN CHURCH HAS A MEMBERSHIP OF 300 PEOPLE. IN ITS 125 YEARS, 18 MINISTERS HAVE SERVED THE FAITHFUL. BOB DAY IS THE CURRENT PASTOR. OUR THANKS TO DARLA EGGERS FOR SHARING THE STORY.

MAILBAG: TIME NOW FOR OUR WEEKLY LOOK INSIDE THE FARM REPORT MAILBAG....SHORTLY AFTER THE USDA SUPPLY-DEMAND REPORT FOR CORN WAS RELEASED, THE RENEWABLE FUELS ASSOCIATION RESPONDED WITH THIS PUBLIC RELATIONS E-MAIL THAT SHOWED UP IN INBOXES ACROSS THE AG-MEDIA, INCLUDING OURS. “YESTERDAY, THE USDA RELEASED THE JULY WASDE REPORT AND, TO MUCH FANFARE, IT ASSUMED THAT ETHANOL DEMAND WOULD EXCEED LIVESTOCK FEED DEMAND FOR THE FIRST TIME. A CLOSE EXAMINATION OF THE FACTS SHOWS THIS NOT TO BE THE CASE." MATT HARTWIG AT THE RENEWABLE FUELS ASSOCIATION. ACTUALLY MATT, THERE IS A SOLID PRINCIPLE AT WORK HERE: YOU CANNOT PLAY THE GAME AND UMPIRE AT THE SAME TIME. IT IS USDA JOB TO MAKE THE CALL, NOT THE RFA. CRITICS OF ETHANOL WHO SAY WE ARE USING MORE CORN FOR FUEL THAN FOOD ARE JUSTIFIED IN MY OPINION, BECAUSE PROPONENTS SUCH AS THE RFA HAVE TOUTED THE SAME NUMBERS UNTIL REALIZING HOW SURPASSING FEED USE MIGHT PLAY IN PUBLIC OPINION. I DO NOT ARGUE THE FEED CONTRIBUTION OF ETHANOL BY-PRODUCTS, BUT NOT LONG AGO WHEN ETHANOL WAS BEING SOLD TO FARMERS AS AN OUTLET FOR SURPLUS CORN, THE OVERALL NUMBER WAS THE HEADLINE. I REMEMBER PASSING 2 BILLION BUSHELS WITH MUCH FANFARE. IF YOU CALL OUTSIDE STRIKES IN THE FIRST INNING, YOU CALL OUTSIDE STRIKES IN THE TENTH INNING. AND IF TOTAL GRIND WAS THE WAY TO MEASURE THE BENEFITS OF ETHANOL IN 2000, IT IS IN 2011. I RESPECT THE RIGHT OF ETHANOL FANS TO TAKE A SIDE IN THIS ACCOUNTING DEBATE, BUT THEY ONLY GET TO CHOOSE ONE SIDE. AS ALWAYS, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU, SEND COMMENTS TO MAILBAG@USFARMREPORT.COM OR LEAVE US A VOICE MAIL AT 800-792-4329.
 

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