USFR Weekly Recap - November 10-11, 2012

November 10, 2012 08:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2048

NOVEMBER 10-11, 2012  





Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. I had the privilege to spend a day with some of America’s best dairy farmers at the Elite Producer Business Conference held by our sister publication, Dairy Today. I left with an even higher respect for the people in the U.S. dairy industry. Despite a litany of formidable challenges - feed costs, milk consumption, immigration, dairy policy, and more - I heard no whining, blaming or demanding. Just a sober, realistic appraisal of a harsh reality. I frankly don't know how this sector will weather the storm of problems it faces, but I do know if anyone can do it, it will be the men and women I met that day. I'll bet on them any day.


The Ag Department says we grew a little bit more this year and we'll have a little more left over. The November crop production figures for corn nudged higher. Meanwhile demand for U.S. Ag exports remains strong. The Commerce Department released its latest export figures which show the trade deficit narrowing to 41 and a half billion dollars in September. That's more than 5% lower than the month before. A look behind the numbers reveals, a massive surge in soybean exports, up 32% for the month. Heavy machinery sales also bolstered U.S. exports. Total exports were up 3% to an all-time high of 187 billion dollars. While it may be good news, the expectation is that it won't last. A sputtering global economy is likely to temper demand. It has been nearly 2 months since parts of Oklahoma have seen a quarter of an inch of rain in one day.  Almost half of the wheat crop is rated in fair condition, and another 30% is poor to very poor.  Conditions of pasture and range continued to be rated mostly poor to very poor. Growth of winter grasses and pasture is limited. Winter wheat pastures continue to struggle under a lack of rainfall. Emergence has been poor and there's worry of crop failures heading into the winter months. In Oklahoma, water is starting to become an issue. Many ponds are drying up and it could mean a flurry of liquidations later in the season.


Crop watch this week looks at benefits of double-cropping.


Al takes over to talk markets with Andy Shissler and Bill Biedermann.


In the 2012 election no decision was as clear-cut as the result of the competition between Psephologist and pundits. I know, I hadn't heard the word before either. A Psephologist is a political statistician - a number nerd, to be crude. It turned out several of the computer modelers were almost perfect - and the most widely followed - Nate Silver of - called every state correct and came within .3% of the national vote for President. Comparing those predictions with the talking heads was simply no contest. Veteran observers like George Will, Michael Barone, and Karl Rove were blown out of the water. I am sure political bloviating is not about to be replaced with small digital readouts in the corner of your screen, but I think we will see less attention paid to free-range opinions unsupported by numerical research. Add political forecaster to a growing list of jobs now handled better by a computer and a math expert such as: airplane pilot, travel agent, financial derivatives trader, and more. Dairy producers are debating robot milkers this week, and I watched more video of autonomous tractors and cars. I trade on markets dominated by black box orders. The computer revolution didn't end when we all got one. It just started. I think the gains in productivity will put many more occupations on the endangered list. Farmers need to constantly ask what they are doing a computer couldn't do better. You can bet political pundits are thinking about it.



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. As strange as it seems, I don't think many in Washington were able to plan meaningfully beyond the election. Statements from congressional leadership have been vague or confusing. The White House agenda is also a matter of great speculation. Farmers had been hoping for a window of opportunity to at least make some progress toward longstanding policy issues, but the lame duck session looks positively crippled right now. For all the complaints about the status quo, we still haven't found any ways to change it, despite a brutal election process. Making plans for next year will not be easy.

One of the benchmarks of the nation's economy is the financial health of fast-food giant McDonald’s.
The big burger maker caught a chill this month.
To put a thanksgiving dinner on the table this year, it will cost American’s slightly more this year. For the past 27 years, the American Farm Bureau federation has estimated the retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner. Two state ballot initiatives of particular interest to agriculture were defeated on Election Day. After surviving the worst drought in 50 are adding up their losses. But for many, a miserable summer is merely a precursor a very difficult winter. Linda Russell from affiliate KYTV in Springfield Missouri revisits a family farm to see how things have changed.


Spirit of the heartland this week takes us to Ohio to see how cancer-fighting foods are being built from the ground up. In this report from the James Cancer Hospital, Clark Powell shows us what scientists are doing to make the foods you eat more potent.


Welcome back. For ranchers, calving season can be an adventure...for some, the adventure can be one to forget. Baxter Black joins us now from his Arizona ranch to explain.


Al, what's on tap for tractor tales this week?" John, we've got a classic tractor that was in production for less than two years!


Today's country church salute goes to First Lutheran Church of Allen, Nebraska. The congregation is celebrating its centennial this year. Town folks first met in June of 1912. They convened in the Allen town hall where the water-tower served as a beacon, of sorts. Within a month, 66 people signed a church constitution to create the church. Eight months later their new church building was constructed and ready for its first service.  Barely a year passed and the congregation decided to build a parsonage for the pastor. Our thanks to church member Jean Morgan for sharing the information about First Lutheran Church of Allen Nebraska.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag. We received a letter of concern from a former NASS employee who worries reorganization plans for that agency will hurt its mission. As always, we want to hear from you, send comments to or leave us a voice mail at 800-792-4329. For Al and Mike, I’m John Phipps saying thank you for watching U.S. Farm Report. Be sure to join us again next week, we'll be working to do even better.

As always, we want to hear from you, send comments to or leave us a voice mail at 800-792-4329.


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