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Word From the Show Floor

Two Big farm shows fall within two weeks of each other — the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY, and Commodity Classic held in Nashville, TN. The mood at both shows seemed upbeat as farmers were clearly feeling more freedom to shop for new equipment, seed and chemicals. What was the talk buzzing around the show floors?

Sold out

Trying to buy tractors, combines or field equipment for this season is tough. Some product lines are sold out until 2009. Others post a three- to nine-month wait.

Equipment prices higher

China's demand for steel has created a competitive market, and prices are headed north, possibly more than last year's 25% price increase. One manufacturer reported its steel source jumped prices 7% in just one month.

Seed traits up

The cost of seed, particularly seed with stacked traits, will continue to climb. Seed prices already have doubled in the last five years. One company suggested that a bag of corn seed with traits that costs $250 today could cost $500 in 2012. This bag of seed will include a complete protection package, though, including seed treatments.

Tenuous markets

Several developments, such as the huge global demand for grain, have converged to create the rich commodity market. A failure of one or two of these, such as a recession in Asia, could send the market into a tailspin.

Livestock cutback

Corn for livestock and poultry is the first use for corn to be reduced. The country's largest pork producer, Smithfield, will cut 4 to 5% of its herd, which amounts to about one million hogs. Other livestock producers are expected to follow suit.

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