USFR Weekly Recap - October 20-21, 2012

October 20, 2012 09:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2045

OCTOBER 20-21, 2012  



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Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. Along with other disappointing crops, our pumpkin haul this year was pathetic. The addition of grandchildren to our farm has made this a bigger deal that it used to be, so I have started noticing the way pumpkins have achieved fad status lately. There is more pumpkin-flavored food on menus than perhaps we need. As financial reporter Felix Salmon noted pumpkin latte and pumpkin bagels are threatening to make pumpkins the new bacon. It's everywhere. This is truly weird. Pumpkins actually have little flavor - we just load this mix up with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and oodles of sugar. Still - pumpkin martinis? C'mon... Moving on - here's Al Pell with the news.


Thank you John.  Farmers are planting the winter wheat crop in a timely manner, but dryness is impacting how quickly that crop is coming out of the ground. USDA's crop progress report shows just 36% has emerged, eight points behind average. USDA says extremely dry conditions persist across the northwestern half of the plains. And it's being seen in the winter wheat sprouting numbers. Colorado is 21 points behind, Montana is 28 behind and Nebraska is 30 points behind in crop emergence. Meanwhile 79% of the corn crop is now harvested. That's easily double the five year average. In the heart of the cornbelt, farmers are anywhere from 35-to-55% points ahead. And nearly three quarters of the soybean crop is completed. Two of the nation’s largest commodity trading floors say they're joining forces. The CME group announced its plans to buy the Kansas City Board of Trade for 126 million dollars in cash. The move combines hard red winter wheat contracts with the current soft red winter wheat contracts already being traded at the CME. Because of improved grazing in the nation's top beef-producing state, Texas ranchers are a bit more optimistic this fall than last year. But according to economists at Texas Agri-life extension, those livestock producers remain cautious when it comes to rebuilding herds.


Crop watch this week...


Al takes over to talk markets with Darren Frye and Mike Hogan.


Everything in Washington is essentially on hold until the elections, but the drama - real or imagined - continues over the "fiscal cliff". Depending on who wins the Presidency, the resolution of this package of tax increases and spending cuts could take different forms, but from my perspective none of them look promising for the farm program. Lost in all the hysteria is how we got to this point. The primary cause is of course the bush tax cuts. They were set to expire next year in a clever accounting trick that allowed the total cost to be scored lower by the cbo. That gimmick helped get it passed, but most thought congress would have addressed this issue before now. The second event was the government-debt limit deal last summer. Although signed by both sides, the massive cuts looming for defense has some leaders wanting to renege. Meanwhile economists have offered differing scenarios about what might happen if taxes increase and spending is slashed. Most are not optimistic the recovery will survive. For farmers, there is little reason to imagine good news for any farm subsidy. Especially if republicans take control, crop insurance expansion, as well as other programs are clearly endangered. Right wing think tanks like the American enterprise institute are waging all-out war on them. But farmers are polling strongly for Romney. I wonder: should we pay attention what farmers say they believe or what farmers do?



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. The 2012 crop is sooo yesterday. All the buzz is about 2013. I have been bugging an AG economist I know about trend line yields. If the USDA could arbitrarily ignore the 2011 corn yield last year for their 2012 projections I can't wait to see what they do with this year's wretched number. Could they call a double-mulligan?


In fact, as Ohio state economist Carl Zulauf pointed out the trend line for corn since 2003 is flat. While 9-year plateaus like this are not unusual, adding in this year could really stretch this anomaly out. An even larger question is whether a straight line is the best fit for yield data. What if nature is throwing a curve?


For farmers who saw their crops shrivel this summer, the fact that it was a hot one comes as no surprise. This week government weather-casters released their recap of the "warm season" that's the six month period from April to September. Unfortunately, it does not appear the central United States will get much relief this fall and winter. Much of that region remains in a severe drought. The holiday season brings a big demand for walnuts. And with harvest now underway in California, it appears there'll be no shortage this year.


Collecting and trading antiques is a big part of our culture. Some of us enjoy tractors, specific tools and old signs. For one Michigan man, collecting is more than just a hobby, it defines who he is.


In college towns across the country, tons of trash is generated each weekend during football tailgating season.  But how much of that trash ends up in the recycling bin? In this report from the University of Missouri, Kent Faddis visits with a group of students who are looking to answer that question. Kent tells us Mizzou is on pace to top last season's recycling efforts of more than 14 tons.  Following the first three home games this fall, more than 11-tons had already been recycled.


Al is back - what do you have for us this week? John, this week's antique tractor comes to us from northwest Montana.


Today's country church salute goes to Zion Lutheran church of Auburn, Michigan. The congregation is celebrating 125 years of ministry. In the late 1800's, the growing population of German immigrants - near Saginaw - was looking for a common place to worship. A Lutheran missionary arrived from Germany to help to provide for their spiritual need. By 1885, a small church was built. It took two more years before the congregation was formally incorporated. Because of the growth, a new church was built in the early 1900's. The original church was converted into a school. Zion Lutheran is a member of the Missouri Synod. A big celebration is planned for next weekend. Reverend Michael Buckhorn leads the congregation.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag. A viewer thinks my comments on our food system taking the blame for the obesity epidemic are off the mark.




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