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Classic is over, time to market crops

03/09/2012 @ 6:53am

My column was missing last week because I was at Commodity Classic in Nashville. I began attending this meeting when it was called Soybean Expo and held in New Orleans in August 1980. Since that time I have missed only two times. The occasion has changed from being only a soybean event staged by the American Soybean Association to including all of the major commodity groups. Attendance has increased from less than a thousand to this year’s attendance of 5,800. 

There are several reasons that I will not soon forget the trip this time around. We chose to drive to Nashville rather than fly to save a little money, but mostly to see some country that is some distance from Nebraska. We were in a motel in Marion, IL when the first tornado struck at 4:30 A.M. on February 29, just 25 miles down the road. We were in the trade show at the Classic when the second tornado struck Nashville. It did not do much damage but it was good for a big scare. Fortunately, the trade show doubled as the tornado shelter so we were not in danger. I cannot say that for the numerous individuals killed by the storm. 

The Classic consists of a general session highlighted by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, along with numerous breakout sessions and the trade show. I attended the session on the new crop insurance policy that bases the guarantee on trend-line yields in addition to the old APH. From what I understand, in 2012 this alternative will appeal to many farmers as a way of bumping up possible coverage in the event of crop loss. Be sure to contact your crop insurance representative before the deadline on March 15. It appears that the new coverage will be a good tool to guarantee forward pricing contracts. 

I left the trade show feeling as if technology has passed me by when it comes to crop production. There is so much new electronics available, it leaves me wondering how an old guy like me could ever learn to use much of it! I say this having made numerous calls on my cell phone during the trip and relying on my GPS to find my way there and back home. I guess it is just the over abundance of new stuff that overwhelms me. The innovations in genetics and crop protection products are similarly almost beyond my comprehension. 

Price guarantees for crop insurance coverage were set after the close of trading on February 29. At least that is one variable that is no longer a mystery. The levels are high enough to guarantee most farmers a profit, if yields are average or above on individual farms. Crop prices while we were at Nashville and after returning home continue the pattern of trying to go back to the normal ratio of 2.5 to 1, to encourage farmers to plant more soybeans. It is a little late for relative prices to have much affect, but the market always seems to overlook the calendar, when adjusting prices in this way. 

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