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Iowa fields meet the Chicago trading floor

Steve Berger, a southeast Iowa corn, soybean and hog producer stopped by the Agriculture Online desk on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade on Friday.

Berger farms with his father on about 2,500 acres near Wellman, Iowa. The Bergers also raise hogs.

Agriculture Online: As you head into 2008, what decisions are you making now for that new crop season? What makes this year any different than others?

Berger: Since I've been farming, 20 years now, demand has sent corn and soybean prices to the highest I've seen them. It's a very exciting time to be farming. But, they are riskier times too as our break-evens go higher. Input costs are going higher. This week, we are trying to get our inputs bought.

Agriculture Online: There is a lot of whip-sawing of acres to chase the more lucrative market. Do you get that feel?

Berger: I do get that feel. On our farm, we are still producing to get the best yields. We are still in a 50/50 crop rotation pattern. We don't try to sway too much from that. We try not to get emotional about the price of corn and soybeans. We try to take what the market is giving to us, so we are looking out ahead at marketing grain. Of course, there is more risk doing that also.

Agriculture Online: What are the out-month contracts saying to you?

Berger: What may look like good prices in 2008, 2009, could still come down to narrow margins as our input costs keep going up. Make no mistake, the last two years have been very good for us. But, now inflation is taking a toll. We raise hogs and our break-evens are hard to reach, which we're not right now.

Agriculture Online: What has been your experience like visiting the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade?

Berger: We've traded futures for 30 to 40 years on our farm, so I've seen it from my end and my broker's end. For me, it's about walking around the trading pits and seeing the open outcry. I know most of the trading has gone electronic, but it's still fun to watch the trades being filled. This is the other side and I enjoy it. It's a world market and it's fun to watch it.

Agriculture Online: Any tips you wish to pass along?

Berger: Sell high buy low!

Steve Berger, a southeast Iowa corn, soybean and hog producer stopped by the Agriculture Online desk on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade on Friday.

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