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Milo Hamilton
<p> Milo Hamilton</p>

Could food grains provide some boom to the market in 2013?

Could rice and wheat prices enjoy a slight bump in prices in 2013? Market analyst Milo Hamilton explores the reasons why this may occur in a talk at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, March 1-2, in Memphis.

Editors note: Agricultural economist Milo Hamilton will conduct a rice marketing seminar, Friday, March 1, at 2:30 p.m. at the Mid-South South Farm and Gin Show in Memphis, on the mezzanine level. The tentative title of his talk is: Surviving the grain price doom and gloom of 2013: Will the rice price shine?

I really have no idea what corn and soybean prices will do as I watch the rice market for my customers who buy and sell rice.

During February, I will be researching more in preparation for the seminar in Memphis, so if you grow rice, indeed if you grow wheat, you might wish to drop by and hear what I have to say. If you have not made up your planting mind yet, you might also wish to drop by and hear my talk. It should be controversial, if nothing else.

I am paid to stick out my neck out and see what is around the price corner for rice.

The general view of soybean and corn prices by many very smart economists is that they are not going to amount to a hill of beans in 2013. Could this year be the temporary end of “beans in the teens?” If that is true will rice and wheat go down the same price drain as the proteins and the feed grains in 2013? Will $7 per bushel for any grain be a thing of the price past in the United States?

I have never spoken before at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, although for the last 32 years, I have been considered a world expert on the rice market. I do not cover rice just a tiny bit in our service. Rice is what I do.

When you hear someone talk to you on the rice market, always look for spin in that talk and consider the source, please.

Here are a few reasons that carbohydrate (rice and/or wheat) prices might slightly shine in 2013:

-- The 2013 support price for wheat in China will be about $9.80 per bushel and for rice about $9 per bushel. Both will be up most likely about $1 a bushel from 2012.

-- China has hugely increased its imports of wheat and rice in 2012 because it was profitable for private traders to do so.

-- China, I believe, buys a lot of unreported rice, delivered landed border from India and/or Pakistan, Myanmar and Vietnam.

-- Rice is the only grain or oilseed commodity China imports that they can buy from neighbors that border China. That is simply not the case for corn or beans or for wheat to any large degree.

-- China could be buying rice from certain U.S. millers in 2013, if the deal can be cut, either in the South or California.

-- China has not bought rice from the United States since they built the Great Wall.

-- India may start ramping up its rice rations to the poor by a kilogram or two and lose its bearish export status for food grains, starting in 2013.

-- India’s per capita availability of groundwater is about 60 percent of China’s, and both are in a water-scarcity problem big-time.

-- Once China starts importing something, it can increase those imports. Just look at what happened to corn and beans in the last decade.

-- An oversupply of rice in exporting countries should make China more comfortable to step up its imports.

-- I will bet you a steak dinner with rice on the side that world rice trade will exceed 40 million metric tons in 2013 and China could be the largest rice importer.

-- As for wheat, Russia’s stocks are 39 percent lower than a year ago, and there is serious drought in the U.S. wheat belt and in Australia now.

By the way, we are facing a very tight stocks situation for long grain rice in the Western Hemisphere, and if someone tells you the Chicago rice futures price is made in Asia, tell them, “You are wrong; that price is made in South America and rice futures are an Americas contract, not an Asian futures contract!”

See you at the gin show. I leave you with a quote from Merrill Oster, Founder of Professional Farmers of America:

“If you farm as a way of life, it could get expensive; but if you farm as a business, it can be a very rewarding way of life.”

For more information please contact Milo Hamilton at 512-345-0497 or email

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