USFR Weekly Recap - September 29-30, 2012

September 29, 2012 09:43 AM

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EPISODE # 2042
SEPTEMBER 29-30, 2012




Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. All year our market analysts have been focused on one number, the end-of-year carryover stocks. Tyne has this long-awaited news in a minute. But like everything this year, the final stocks number is far from a clear cut statistic. Market watchers all over the industry will be picking apart the details for days to come, and if we haven't learned anything about these reports it is this: in years with low production every assumption or estimate gets extra scrutiny. 2012 has forced a spotlight on standard grain accounting practices, and we now know they are about as precise as most tax accounting.


While few surprises were expected from the quarterly grain stocks report, the USDA did manage to perplex analysts with lower corn and wheat numbers and higher than expected soybean stocks. Harvest is progressing at a record pace across the U.S. According to the latest USDA crop progress report, as of Monday 39% of the country's corn crop had been harvested. Normally, it's only 13%. The crop progress report shows 80% of Missouri’s corn crop is already harvested, which is way ahead. That’s 47 points ahead of normal. A farmer in Carroll County, Missouri says he's already wrapped up corn harvest and yields averaged between 80 and 110 bushels per acre. Soybeans are ranging from 35 to 40 bushels per acre, he says that's below normal, but still better than he expected. Higher feed prices and lower pork prices are forcing producers to push more hogs to slaughter. According to the USDA, slaughter jumped 4% in August to more than 9.9 million head. Iowa State University livestock specialist expects those numbers to continue to climb.


Crop watch this week...


Al talks markets with Jim Bower and Bryan Doherty. 


Last week I spoke about proposition 37, an initiative on the California ballot to mandate labels for genetically engineered foods. Agribusiness is pulling out all the wallets to prevent passage since it has been clearly demonstrated such ingredients are safe. However polls indicate approval is all but certain. There is a certain irony here. One of the big problems with combating this unneeded new regulation is the current disregard of even overwhelming expert consensus. Farmers are partly to blame. If we accord little value to scientific opinion in debates like evolution or climate change, we can hardly blame consumers for ignoring similar evidence of GMO safety. Science and reason no longer are clinching arguments. Written by a lawyer apparently for lawyers, prop 37 is a litigator's dream. The standards of certification are unworkably high and liability risks will be huge for the entire food chain. This why i predict not just the 70% that does contain GE material, but virtually all food will carry "may contain" labels. The big losers will be producers hoping to sell GE-free products. This is what happened with prop 65 and carcinogenic materials in workplaces: warning labels on everything. Rather than the end of GMO's, prop 37 could be a nightmare for organic. Nobody is dying from eating GMO's. Faced with few alternatives, I think consumers will quickly treat "may contain GE ingredients" labels like those bizarre pillow tags.



Hello and welcome to U.S. Farm Report, I’m John Phipps. Even as farmers push ahead with harvest, the sobering size of the 2012 harvest continues to force adjustments up and down the food chain. Protein producers are eying recent drops in corn and soy prices as possible opportunities and talk about next year is already a hot topic. Recovery happens fast in agriculture, and no crop has better emergence than hope. Still, as Cindy will detail later, the drought isn't over so much as the crop is baked in. How much the drought of 2012 contributes to the potential for the crop of 2013 remains to be seen. And while there is an abiding sense that next year won't be as bad as this year, 2013 doesn't sound all that lucky to me.


The outlook for pork availability doesn't look good. The National Pig Association in Britain, now says a world shortage of pork and bacon next year is unavoidable. A new presidential poll focusing on rural America - says it'll be a tough match to the end. This poll, commissioned by the center for rural strategies, says Republican Mitt Romney holds a 14% point lead over President Barack Obama among rural voters. While that may seem like a considerable lead, analysts say this poll represents much of the Romney voting base. Meanwhile, the two candidates recently spelled out their positions on agricultural issues for the American Farm Bureau. Both candidates shared their views on a host of topics, including farm policy, energy, labor and trade. You can read their positions on Farm Bureau's homepage The USDA continues to work through past transgressions. Ag secretary Tom Vilsack says Hispanic and women farmers and ranchers who believe USDA discriminated against them can now file claims for a cash settlement. It's an early harvest for more than just row crops in the Midwest. Apples harvest came a month early this year. The mild winter and spring pushed fruit to set early. This summer's heat and drought, however, stressed the fruit. John Christoperson of Schreiman Orchards says he was forced to water trees three times a day this year to save fruit. He says the heat did damage too.


Living in a valley in the mountains of Idaho creates challenges. But those challenges are where the salmon FFA chapter is thriving. 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. National Reporter Tyne Morgan introduces us to one chapter that's doing its part through the FFA: Food for All program. Join us next week as we travel to Kentucky where the FFA is harvesting hope in all different shapes and colors for the local soup kitchen.


Louisiana's main citrus-growing areas were hit hard by hurricane Isaac. The crop suffered significant damage from the storm's rain, wind and floodwater. The latest tally puts crop losses at 100-million dollars, provided by the LSU Agcenter, Tobie Blanchard visits a grower in Plaquemines Parish who is adding-up the crop losses.


Al, what's on tap for tractor tales this week?" John, earlier this year we spent some time in northwestern Washington state.


Today's country church salute goes to Nelson United Methodist Church of Hemlock, Michigan.  The church was first organized in Saginaw County in May of 1877. Back then, it was known as the Methodist protestant church. In 1910, the congregation purchased an abandoned church building and moved it two miles to a piece of land the church had acquired. About 50 years later, the growing membership required the construction of an addition. Through the decades, the church has merged with other congregations. And there are now 70 members to this church. Our thanks to church trustee Bill Guilford for sharing the history of Nelson United Methodist Church.


Time now to hear from you via the farm report mailbag...Ron Johannsen thinks our coverage is too narrow.


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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