USFR Weekly Recap - October 6-7, 2012

October 6, 2012 09:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2043
OCTOBER 6-7, 2012



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. The bizarre narrative of this crop year continues with a bewildering harvest. For many of us our usual harvest sequence was reversed. Corn baked to an early finish, while soybeans seem to get their second wind after August rains. Now we are finally getting into our beans, we've discovered some surprises. First, there are more beans than we thought on the later-maturing varieties. However, they are every size imaginable - from bb's to marbles. Setting the combine properly is a challenge to say the least. And while the pods are ready, the stems think it's July, not October. Looking from behind it's hard to decide whether it's a combine or silage chopper.


Thanks, John and hello everyone. With the World Dairy Expo taking place this week in Madison, Wisconsin, dairy policy took center stage. The expired Farm Bill took along with it a safety net for producers. One dairy group, however, says it's not a big loss. Meanwhile, exports of U.S. dairy products are one of the few bright spots of the industry. Our partners at dairy today say even with the tight production margins, exports are a key reason prices are in the 18 to 20 dollar per hundredweight range for most of the country. However, exports could be changing in 2013. Rabobank analysts say the global dairy market appears to be heading for a period of renewed supply scarcity in the next year. The AG-lender says the reductions could happen not only in the U.S., but in other big dairy exporters like Australia and New Zealand. The most recent weekly U.S. Crop Progress report shows harvest continues to race along. But it's more than just corn making a quick departure this season. According to USDA, corn and soybean harvest is both double the average pace. Peanuts, sorghum, sugar beets and sunflower harvest are all higher than the five year average pace. Cotton is the only crop lagging its average, and that's only by 1% point. In the western cornbelt, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota are all past the half-way point in corn harvest. A western Iowa farmer told AgDay, yields are all across the board. Avoca, Iowa farmer Lance Scott says considering the dry and hot weather that set in during the middle of June, yields are surprising this year.


Crop watch this week...


Al joins us to talk markets with Mark Gold and Thomas Grisafi. 


I have always been ambivalent about Columbus Day. Stepping back from the calendar is just looks like a convenient excuse for a federal holiday smack dab between Labor Day and Halloween. And sure enough, we've wangled it into a three-day weekend for most, and four days for school kids with the suspicious teacher's training day on the preceding Friday.

But to be fair, Columbus did set foot in the new world on October 12, 1492 and literally changed the world. But in his superb book, 1491, historian Charles Manning describes the western hemisphere as it was just before that moment. It is great reading for farmers, especially those of us in the fertile plains and savannahs of the Midwest. We often overlook how Native Americans essentially made our farms the breadbasket they are today. With the use of fire to retard the growth of forests, Indians encouraged the development of vast swaths of grasslands in what would have been dense forest. The repeated burning also laid down much of the organic matter for our soil. It was agriculture on a continental scale. Debate still rages over the indigenous population total in 1491 - somewhere between 2 and 20 million. Regardless, European diseases soon killed over 95%. Bringing the breadbasket of America under cultivation was a monumental task of back-breaking work for settlers. But without the actions of pre-Columbian Americans it could have been enormously more difficult.



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. The time delay between crop failures and food prices can be deceptive. This is all the more true with meats, as herds are thinned to cut feeding costs which sends more supply to the market and lowers consumer prices. For a while. The protein sector will be a market to watch. As American producers sell more product overseas, it could reshape our livestock cycles. Perhaps the net effect will be lower consumption at home and larger share for exports as a permanent feature. Regardless, for all of agriculture, the importance of increasing global trade should be a rising priority.


Stronger dairy and meat prices helped push the U.N.'s food price index higher last month. According to the U.N. Food and agriculture organization, the price index rose 3 points from August to September. That’s after two months of stable prices. A well-known animal activist has announced he's running for a board seat at the world's second largest meat company. The humane society of the United States president Wayne Pacelle says he's filed paperwork as a candidate for election to Tyson Foods board of directors. Pacelle - who is a vegetarian - says his main goal to ensure a definite timeline is set for Tyson’s producers to phase out the use of gestation stalls. The drought could have a lasting impact on more than just meat supply next year. It could also impact a movie favorite-- popcorn.


FFA members in Elizabethtown Kentucky have learned hunger is closer than many of us think.

So the central Hardin chapter is stepping-up to face that challenge at home. But their work is also being felt on the other side of the world. Their efforts are part of a new program called FFA food for all. With support from farmers feeding the world and the Howard G. Buffett foundation, the national FFA organization has provided 140 grants to FFA chapters nationwide to fight hunger. Tyne Morgan has the story.


The dairy industry gathered this week for its annual pilgrimage to Wisconsin. The 2012 World Dairy Expo saw a large number of producers and industry representatives in Madison. This show is considered the world's largest dairy-focused event. Much of the conversation focused on feed and credit challenges. On a lighter note - each year the world dairy expo honors dairy producers who have made a difference in the industry. This year’s dairy woman of the year is Mary Shank Creek from Hagerstown, Maryland. Clinton Griffiths caught-up with Mary shortly after she was showing her Ayrshires at the expo. The 2012 dairyman of the year is John Fiscalini from Modesto, California. John owns Fiscalini Farms and Farmstead Cheese company. They have 15-hundred dairy cows.


What do you have for us this week Al? John we're off to big sky country to check out a classic piece of iron.


Today's country church salute goes to Lost Island Lutheran Church located in Palo Alto County, Iowa. This year the congregation is celebrating 140 years of ministry. A group of Norwegian settlers first met in a sod hut to organize the church. Eventually they built a wooden structure, using the skilled craftsmen who were members of the flock. That building was destroyed by fire in 1934. Despite facing the economic hardships of the great depression, they built a new church which still stands today. Congratulations to Lost Island Lutheran Church of Palo Alto County, Iowa.


Time now for our weekly look inside the Farm Report mailbag. In keeping with this week's political events, we have this email from Larry Coffin. The hunt for hidden symbols is popular theme which sells conspiracy theories and mystery novels. But I struggle to see how advocating the end of AG subsidies can be interpreted as being more for the government. Regardless, our brains are designed to look for patterns, and for making inferences when we think we see similarities. Just wait until every new person you meet reminds you of someone you already know.


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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