March 21, 2017

Building Extension 3.0


Kim Kidwell, Dean of the College of ACES - University of Illinois

Extension personnel facilitate the translation of many of the fantastic discoveries made at land-grant universities to people around the world. Oftentimes, this is the only way that this valuable information reaches people so they can make good decisions that improve the qualities of their lives. Kim Kidwell, Dean of the University of Illinois College of ACES, believes Extension embodies the essence of the land-grant mission because this is where transformation happens. She discusses, with Todd Gleason, how the future of Extension in the state of Illinois can provide the basis through which the discovery process can continue to help change people’s lives.

Read more from College of ACES Dean Kim Kidwell’s blog post here.


March 20, 2017

Anticipating the March 1 Soybean Stocks Estimate

USDA, at the end of this month, will let us know how much of the nation’s soybean crop there is left in the bin. It “should” be a fairly uneventful number.

by Todd Hubbs
read full farmdocDaily article

On March 31, the USDA will release the quarterly Grain Stocks report, with estimates of crop inventories as of March 1, and the annual Prospective Plantings report. For soybeans, the stocks estimate is typically overshadowed by the estimate of planting intentions. Usually, the quarterly stocks estimates for corn garners more interest because these reports reveal the pace of feed and residual use which is a large component of total corn consumption. The March 1 soybean stocks estimate this year may not provide much new information despite recent growth in marketing year ending stocks and concerns about the size of the South American crop… continue reading the full article by clicking here.

Generally, Todd Hubbs says it is pretty easy to figure out how many soybeans have been consumed. There is a regular reporting system for how many bushels are exported and one for how many are crushed. That second report, the crush, calculates how many soybeans are crushed in the United States into its two components. These are soybean meal and soybean oil. Hubbs, an agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, says the reports make it easy enough to calculate disappearance, consumption, usage, whatever you want to call, and consequently come up with a number that approximates how many bushels are left to use. Hubbs’ March 1 grain stocks figure for soybeans is 1.68 billion bushels. Here’s the math he used to get there.

Quote Summary - Exports for the first quarter were 932 million bushels. For the second quarter, I have them pegged at about 721 million bushels. I have the second quarter crush at 491 million bushels. This brings the total crush for the first half of the marketing year to 976 million bushels. We’ve been crushing a really good rate, but we have a lot of soybeans. So, with USDA raising ending stocks to 435 million, if that number holds and we don’t drive those numbers down, and if the March 1 stocks number is 1.68 billion, it means the last half of the marketing year we are going to have to consume about 1.23 billion bushels.

Hubbs thinks that is a reasonable number. It depends, though, he says mostly on what happens in the export market through August.



March 17, 2017

On the Value of Ethanol in the Gasoline Blend

Read farmdocDaily Article

There has been much debate and much written about the likely costs and benefits of including ethanol in the domestic gasoline supply. Costs and benefits fall into two major categories–environmental and economic (e.g., Stock, 2015). One economic consideration is the potential impact on domestic gasoline prices from augmenting the gasoline supply with biofuels. A second economic consideration, and one that has received the most attention, is the cost of ethanol relative to petroleum-based fuel. What has been missing from the analysis of the value of ethanol in the gasoline blend is an estimate of the net value of ethanol based on: i) an energy penalty relative to gasoline; and ii) an octane premium based on the lower price of ethanol relative to petroleum sources of octane.

This farmdocDaily article provides an analysis of that net value since January 2007.


March 15, 2017

2016 Corn and Soybean Yields in Perspective


read the full article

The National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) recently released 2016 county yields for both corn and soybeans. In this article, maps are produced showing actual 2016 yields minus 2016 trend yields. Examination of these maps shows areas of above trend and below trend yields for 2016. Areas of above trend yields will have higher 2016 incomes relative to those areas with below trend yields.


Individual county trend yields are calculated using data from 1972 through 2016. A linear line is fit through these yields using ordinary least squares. The 2016 trend yields were based on these linearly fit relationships.

The following maps report actual minus trend yields. By calculating trend yields, the inherent productivity of the farmland is taken into consideration, and actual yields are stated relative to that productivity.






Schnitkey reports those areas with above trend yields will have relatively higher incomes than those areas with below trend yields. In 2016, lower grain farm incomes will be more pronounced in the eastern corn belt and particularly in Indiana and Ohio.


March 13, 2017

Big South American Crops Pressure Price | an interview with Todd Hubbs

by Todd Hubbs
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Corn and soybean harvest future prices moved sharply lower after the release of the USDA March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report on March 9. December corn futures closed on March 10 at $3.87 per bushel, while November soybean futures moved down to close at $10.00 per bushel. Both prices closed at the lowest levels since late January. When combining the production forecasts for South America with projected changes in domestic use, the competition in export markets looks to be particularly tough for the next few months.


March 01, 2017

Hog Prices Outperform Expectations

There’s some good news for a change in the pork industry. Todd Gleason has more on the better prices with Purdue Extension Economist Chris Hurt.

Pork producers are pleased to see prices higher than earlier expectations.

This comes after a really tough year, says Purdue’s Chris Hurt, that bottomed out in November with prices dropping to about $32 for a hundredweight. That’s like paying 32 cents a pound for your pork chop and your bacon - at least at the wholesale price. Now things are way better says the ag economist. Recently live prices have reached the mid-$50 and have pulled the industry out of deep losses into profitability.

The leading reason for the better on farm price is actually lower pork prices at the grocery store. The “law of demand” says people will buy more when prices are lower, and retail pork prices… have been lower say Chris Hurt, “Retail pork prices peaked in 2014 because of reduced supplies due to the PED virus and have generally been falling since 2015. In the final quarter of 2016, retail pork prices dropped 26 cents per pound from the same period one year earlier. The downward movement continued in January of this year with retail pork prices down 22 cents per pound from one year earlier.”

An additional issue contributing to the extremely low prices for pork producers last fall was the small portion of the retail dollar getting back to producers. Another way of saying this is that the margins for the processors and retailers remained substantially higher than normal. As a result, the portion of the retail pork dollar that got back to the producer dropped to 17.5 percent. This was lower than the previous record low of 18.4 percent in the financially tragic final quarter of 1998. As for the rest of 2017, Hurt thinks there is room for even lower retail prices and a higher percentage of that price getting back to the hog producer.

Probably the biggest opportunity for hog producers is the advent of new processing capacity coming on line in the last half of 2017. The added competition for hogs will likely reduce the farm-to-wholesale margins with much of that reduction bid into higher hog prices. In 2016, for example, USDA reported the farm-to-wholesale margin as 70 cents per retail pound compared to 58 cents in 2015. Export demand remains a positive for the 2017 hog price outlook as well. USDA expects a four percent increase in exports with little change in imports.

Pork supplies are not the reason for higher hog prices in 2017. So far this year, pork production has been about three percent higher than for the same period last year.

Live hog prices are now expected to average near $51 for 2017, up from $46 in 2016. Live prices are expected to average in the very high $40s in the first quarter, then move to the low-to-mid $50s in the second and third quarters, and then finish the final quarter in the mid $40s.

Total costs of production for 2017 are expected to be near $50 per live hundredweight, similar to the annual forecast price of hogs. If so, this means pork producers will recover full costs of production in 2017. Losses in the first and fourth quarter would be offset by profits in the second and third quarter.

There has been an overall improvement in prospects for animal and animal product prices since last fall. That is true for beef, pork, and milk markets. The source of that improvement may well be related to the general improvement in the anticipated economic growth rates for the U.S.-think of the stock market increases since the election. These increases are largely based on anticipated policy that will stimulate the economy, including tax cuts, infrastructure spending, and reduced regulations.

Markets for animal products remain vulnerable to at least three outcomes that could differ from current optimism: 1) The anticipated economic stimulus is not implemented, 2) The strength of the U.S. dollar slows agricultural export sales from anticipated levels, and 3) The U.S. moves in a direction of more protectionism that increases trade barriers and reduces our agricultural export sales potential.

Each industry is trying to figure out what the new administration means for them. Agriculture incomes are importantly influenced by the domestic economy, by the global economy, by exchange rates, and by trade. Agriculture, like other industries, must take a “wait and see” attitude.


March 01, 2017

Trump RFS Rumors Move Commodity Markets

University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin discusses rumors driving the commodity markets Tuesday, February 28, 2017 related to biofuels and the Trump administration with U of I Extension Farm Broadcaster Todd Gleason.


February 24, 2017

Estimated 2016 ARC-CO Payments

by Gary Schnitkey, Agricultural Economist - University of Illinois

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On February 23rd, the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) released county yields for the 2016 crop year. With these yield estimates, fairly accurate estimates of 2016 Agricultural Risk Coverage at the county level (ARC-Co) can be obtained. We present maps showing estimated payments per base acre for corn, soybeans, and wheat. Also shown are maps giving 2016 county yields relative to benchmark yields. A table showing estimated payments per county in Illinois also is presented.



Procedures Payments for 2016 are still estimates and will vary from those presented here for the following reasons:

• Farm Service Agency (FSA) uses different yields than NASS when calculating ARC-CO payments. Where NASS data is available, the NASS yield generally will be higher than those used by FSA. As a result, estimated payments should be viewed as conservative.

• Market Year Average (MYA) prices are not known because the marketing year does not end until August for corn and soybeans and May for Wheat. MYA estimates used in these projections are $3.50 per bushel for corn, $9.60 per bushel for soybean, and $3.85 per bushel for wheat. Ending MYA prices are likely to vary from these estimates.

• Sequestration amounts may differ from those used here. The ARC-CO payments estimated here use the 6.8% sequestration reduction applied to the 2014 and 2015 payments. The sequestration amount may differ from the 6.8% estimate.






February 23, 2017

February Application of NH3 O.K.

The warm weather in the Midwest has farmers itching to go to the field to get some pre-season work done. University of Illinois Extension Agronomist Emerson Nafziger says it is ok to apply anhydrous ammonia to corn acres. Nafziger says as long as soil conditions are good, a late winter anhydrous ammonia application should work just like a fall application.


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