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Combines starting, Fed stopping
Though the fuming and stewing in Washington, D.C., got most of the headlines this week, harvest is still chugging along with widely varying yield results. While soybean yields around the Corn Belt are all over the board, "corn is even more crazy," one farmer said this week.
Most farmers say they expect below-average yields, though exactly one-third responding to our poll say they'll skate through harvest with yields "right on average." What do you think? Add your vote and see more ways to keep your harvest on course.
But that outlook for yields isn't as gloomy everywhere. "The hike in soybean conditions indicates that yields are shocking farmers on the high side, and reports of better-than-average yields are accurate across the Corn Belt," one Agriculture.com market analyst said this week. Do you agree?
In what proved to be the final day of its crop reporting before the shutdown this week, USDA released the quarterly Grain Stocks report Monday, in which the agency overshot previous trade estimates for both corn and soybeans.
So, how's the farm sector being affected by the government shutdown? A few key federal programs for farmers, like farm program payments and crop insurance, could be endangered by a longer-term D.C. work stoppage, lawmakers said this week.
There are also a lot of USDA reports -- some of which are critical components of the grain and livestock markets -- that aren't being published because of the government shutdown. It could skew the trade's view of crop yields around the country if the shutdown lasts too long, analysts and traders say.
The government shutdown is also causing a real drydown in the amount of trading volume since Monday's quarterly Grain Stocks report. That means the trade is essentially listless without much direction from a federal government that's closed for now.
Getting that trade to bounce back -- at least for corn -- may happen with a more southern focus. That's because corn acreage is expected to tumble in South America, especially in Argentina. What could that mean to the market?
And though this year's harvest is still underway, a few thoughts are already turning to next year. "My expenses are telling me that at $4 corn and using $10 beans, $4 corn has soybeans beat in net income," one farmer says. How will that kind of price scenario affect what's planted next year? Join the discussion!
No matter what you grow next year, chances are your income levels may be lower than in the last couple of years, one economist said this week. "Lower returns will require adjustments by farmers," University of Illinois Extension ag economist Gary Schnitkey says. What are those adjustments?
In agribusiness news, Monsanto entered the weather game this week with its acquisition of the Climate Corporation, a weather analytics and insurance firm. "We want to...broaden their reach to more crops and more world areas," Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant says of Climate Corp.'s continuing work in the weather arena.
Also out this week is Successful Farming's annual look at the hog industry, Pork Powerhouses. This year, it wasn't industry fluctuation among companies, but a major disease and continued herd growth that made up the biggest stories. See what else is happening in the industry in this year's report.
As harvest hits its stride around the nation, lawmaker bickering puts the federal government on the outs. They're just a couple big stories this week.