Big in ag: Spring on its way

  • 01

    A possible shift to spring-like weather, volatile farm income factors and trends for the next few months were all big stories in agriculture in the last week.

  • 02

    A year ago, Mother Nature was flirting with high temperatures more typical of May than March in parts of the Midwest. Though they won't top out that high, one forecaster said this week a warmup is on its way, signaling a possible change of the season.

  • 03

    But, how will the soil emerge from winter? Though there's been much-needed snowfall in much of the nation's center in the last 2 weeks, that snow's likely not doing as much to improve soil moisture conditions as is needed.

  • 04

    The dry soils made their way into the policy sector this week, too. Earlier this week, lawmakers introduced bills to slash federal funding for crop insurance, which saw record payouts last year because of the drought. The move netted major support from budget watchdog groups and major ire from the ag sector.

  • 05

    When the CME Group expanded its trading hours a few months ago, reactions from the farm and trading communities were lukewarm. After "comprehensive outreach," CME Group officials announced this week they're paring back trading hours. And, the majority of farmers say they welcome the change.

  • 06

    Regardless of the trading hours, many farmers say they've yet to forward-contract any 2013 corn bushels. "I'm honestly scratching my head for the right strategy," says one farmer in a recent Marketing Talk discussion. See all the comments and add your 2 cents' worth.

  • 07

    Today's grain marketplace has a lot of moving parts in play and is "digesting a lot of information while waiting for the next shoe to drop." It points to the value of solid risk management, analysts say. What's your strategy?

  • 08

    Another component to today's volatile ag marketplace is the land market. While prices continue to soar skyward in the Corn Belt, that doesn't mean it's going to continue in the long term, especially at current high levels. One economist said this week it's important to avoid getting "overly optimstic" about investing in land.

  • 09

    The future of the land market is just one wildcard in the business of farming over the next few years. See what a group of agribusiness professionals said is on their industry radar looking into the future, both short- and long-term.

  • 10

    If you're a hog farmer and were planning on some expansion this spring in response to what experts said would be a shift toward profitability, you might want to hold off, one economist said this week. Demand hasn't picked up as quickly as was earlier thought, so the upturn is going to be delayed, possibly until late summer.

  • 11

    One market that had a big week is the equities. The stock market hit a record high earlier this week, but there's reason to view that with "mild trepidation," because the economy's far from out of the woods, Market Analyst Scott Shellady said this week.

  • 12

    Were you able to get to Florida for the 2013 Commodity Classic last week? The annual meeting of national commodity groups and trade show broke attendance records and featured a lot of discussion about new technology, farm policy and the future of the business.

A week of transition: Weather, agribusiness outlooks

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