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Showing posts from June, 2015

Farmers Overwhelmingly Choose ARC County

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Original ArticleThe U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency (USDA, FSA) recently released enrollment data on commodity program choices made under the 2014 Farm Bill. This article summarizes how farmers split program acres between Agricultural Risk Coverage - County Option (ARC-CO), ARC - Individual Option (ARC-IC), and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Overall, ARC-CO was the overwhelming choice. ARC-CO was elected on 76% of program acres. PLC was next with 23% of acres, followed by ARC-IC with less than 1% of acres. There were differences in program choices across crops, as discussed below.Program ChoicesFarmers choose ARC-CO for 97% of soybean base acres and 94% for corn base acres (see Figure 1). Analysis indicated that expected payment from ARC-CO were larger than from PLC for both corn and soybeans (see farmdoc daily January 27, 2015 for more detail), suggesting high use of ARC-CO. However, the fact that ARC-CO accounted for over 90% of program acres for both corn and soybea…

Perspective for the Soybean Market

We’ll know a lot more about where the price of soybeans is headed at the end of this month. Still, it is useful to understand how price arrived where it is today. Last fall USDA projected there would be about 475 million bushels of soybeans leftover by the close of the marketing year. That’s this fall. The agency has trimmed that number back over time. This month the target is 330 million bushels. Usage has been really strong and it is important to remember says University of Illinois Ag Economist Darrel Good, but it did not change the balance sheet very much in this one month. Over time it has, however, been really supportive to the price of soybeans - keeping them above $9 a bushel on the board. Demand has held the bottom end of the market. Supply, in the coming marketing year on-the-other-hand, is the problem at hand. The June 30th Acreage report is supposed to help clarify this matter. The spring rains, especially in Kansas and Missouri, may cause that not to happen says Good.Quot…

EPA’s RFS Puts Biodiesel in the Drivers Seat

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The nation could be running on a lot more biodiesel in future. The latest U.S. EPA proposal would firmly set a path to create a second biofuels industry in the United States.



The United States Environmental Protection Agency, by the authority of congress, sets mandates - within some congressional parameters - for the amount of renewable energy the nation should consume. Part of this energy plan has allowed U.S. farmers to build and deploy corn based ethanol as a gasoline additive. Phase two, as set out by congress and proposed by EPA in May, may do the same thing for biodiesel made from oilseeds says University of Illinois ag economist Scott Irwin, "If one takes the EPA policy as given and projects for the remaining life of the RFS through 2022, essentially going forward biodiesel is in the driver’s seat rather than corn based ethanol."

Biodiesel is made mostly from vegetable. Essentially the same cooking oils found on store shelves… mostly this oil is pressed from the soybe…

Why USDA Lowered the Corn for Ethanol Number

This week (June 10th) USDA lowered its estimate of how many bushels of corn would be used to make ethanol. It surprised the market. However, there is an explanation.Once a month the United States Department of Agriculture releases a report predicting how corn will be used in several different categories; how much will be fed to livestock, how much will be exported, and how much will be used to make the gasoline additive ethanol. This month it dropped the number of bushels of corn to make ethanol by 25 million. It’s still a big number at 5.175 billion bushels, but the trade didn’t like it. University of Illinois ag economist Darrel Good says it may mean less than the surprise it gave the trade. This, he says, is because the number is calculated in a new way.Quote Summary - USDA sited its new Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production survey instituted last fall. It shows the number of bushels of corn being consumed to produce ethanol isn’t as large as previously forecast. This suggests…

Crop Insurance Loss Performance in 2014

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Last year federal crop insurance performed really well. This means it covered losses in the way it was designed to do the job. Over time crop insurance is meant to even out the ups and downs in annual income experienced by commodity farmers.


It does this by paying out one dollar for every dollar of premium a farmer pays in to the system to purchase the insurance. The farmer can expect there will be many years when a payment is not made, but when the income from crops drop, a crop insurance payment will help alleviate the gap. Here’s another explanation from University of Illinois Extension Ag Economist Gary Schnitkey.
Quote Summary - The crop insurance program was designed to have a loss ration of about one. The loss ratio equals payments-made divided by premium-paid. Over time the federal crop insurance program is supposed to pay out roughly the same amount it collects in premium. A loss ratio of one is about the target. A loss ratio of less than one means payments were less than th…

Pork Industry Continues to Adjust from PED

The price of hogs is on the rebound. It appears to be the economic remnants of a widespread disease outbreak in 2014.The pork industry continues to adjust from the supply shock created by the PED virus last year. Live hog prices peaked in the summer of 2014 as Porcine Epidemic Virus losses mounted and then fell into the late winter of this season. Looking back it seems prices overshot on the high side due to PED, thinks Purdue University Ag Economist Chris Hurt, and then undershot early this year as market supplies were restored. He says the third phase of this cycle now seems to be the recent recovery in prices - up from the $45 low made in March.Quote Summary - Now, they have recovered to the low $60s. The low prices in March were clearly related to 14 percent higher production for that month compared to year previous levels and market concerns that pork supplies were going to remain higher by ten percent or more into the spring. The recent recovery in hog prices, apparently, is rel…