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Articles from 2019 In June

This Week in Agribusiness, June 29, 2019

Part 1

Note: The video automatically plays through all show parts once you start.

Max Armstrong and Orion Samuelson kick off the show with a conversation with Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig about the challenging growing season there. Cody Koster from Rice Dairy joins Max and Orion to talk about how dairy farmers are doing with higher prices for milk, but also for grains.  

Part 2

Cody Koster from Rice Dairy rejoins Max and Orion to discuss the challenges for forage and feed for dairy cattle and the effect of China on the dairy markets. Chad Colby in the Colby Ag Tech segment talks with Bill Northey about what’s going on at USDA.  In the Farm Broadcaster of the Week segment Jeff Steward of Linder Farm Network in Minnesota joins Max and Orion to talk about crop progress up north.

Part 3

Max and Orion hear from Harry Siemens of about some shocking conditions in the prairie provinces of Canada.

Part 4

Max Armstrong talks with Kimberly Atkins of the U.S. Grains Council about their efforts to promote U.S. grains around the world, especially during the various trade wars. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje joins Max and Orion while on vacation to look at the forecast for the week ahead.

Part 5

Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje returns to take a look at the long-range weather picture.

Part 6

In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max introduces a 50-year-old “peach” tractor, a 1969 John Deere 2020, a futuristic-looking ride owned by Pat Short of North Carolina. Orion Samuelson Estancia FFA in Estancia, New Mexico, a club at 6,100 feet of elevation. Member Matthew Lindeman touts the make-up of the club, which has its own chile roast. In Samuelson Sez, Orion talks about why travelling abroad is the best education.

Part 7

Orion Samuelson introduces a report from Steve Bridge who interviews UC Davis professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist Frank Mitloehner who dispels the idea that “cow farts” have much to do with climate change. 

Estancia FFA, high-flyers

Orion Samuelson Estancia FFA in Estancia, New Mexico, a club at 6,100 feet elevation. Member Matthew Lindeman who talks about the make-up of the club, which has its own chile roast.

The weekly FFA Chapter Tribute is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work of your local chapter. Tell us about what you're doing, give us some history from your group and tell our viewers of the work you do in the community. FFA chapters across the country deserve recognition for the work they do, make sure we include yours.

To have your chapter considered for this weekly feature, send along information about your group by e-mail to Orion Samuelson at or to Max Armstrong at They'll get your group on the list of those that will be covered in the future. It's a chance to share your story beyond the local community. Drop Orion or Max a "line" soon.

The National FFA Organization, formerly known as Future Farmers of America, is a national youth organization of about 650,000 student members as part of 7,757 local FFA chapters. The National FFA Organization remains committed to the individual student, providing a path to achievement in premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online, on Facebook at, on Twitter at


Mark Sigler
MAN BEHIND THE SCENES: Mark Sigler isn’t often in the limelight, but he’s working hard to improve Indiana agriculture all the time.

Mark Sigler helps move agriculture forward

Many people have helped move Indiana agriculture forward over the past four decades. You likely know Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. leaders such as Harry Pearson, Don Villwock and Randy Kron. There are other names you may not know because they do most of their work behind the scenes.

Mark Sigler is one example. He was selected as this year’s Honorary Master Farmer. The Master Farmer program is co-sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.

“He seems to always be looking for a solution when agriculture faces a challenge,” says Kron, president of INFB.

Kent Yeager, a farmer, former INFB specialist and state ag liaison for former Sen. Joe Donnelly, believes Sigler is one of the people who makes Indiana agriculture tick. “It’s great to see him recognized for what he does, even though a lot of it happens behind the scenes,” Yeager says.

Sigler grew up on a Madison County farm near Frankton, Ind. He still lives there today with his wife, Dee Dee.

Sigler has two children, Amber Cole and Adam Sigler, and six grandchildren. He outlines the path that brought him to his current position at INFB.

“I graduated from Purdue in 1979, majoring in animal sciences and ag education,” he says. “I was a livestock judger, and our team won the collegiate judging contest at the North American in Louisville.”

Sigler spent three years as an Extension youth educator in Elkhart County and three years as an ag educator in Rush County. Along the way he worked with people who would influence him later, including John Baugh, who worked for INFB in commodity marketing at the time, and Bob Cherry, whom he met while working for a year with Farm Credit.

Baugh told him about a position in INFB’s commodity department, and Sigler took the job in 1987. He was appointed director of the organization department in 1989. Late in 1993, the corporate secretary of INFB was preparing to retire, and he and others talked to Sigler about the position. Sigler became corporate secretary in 1994, and his title was changed to chief operating officer in 2001. He was also appointed treasurer of INFB at that time. 

“I didn’t really seek it out, but it was a good fit for me,” he says of his position.

Why does he love his job? “I have the opportunity to work with some of the best people around who all care about agriculture,” Sigler says. “Problems arise, and I have the opportunity to work with others to help solve these problems.

“My philosophy is that I want things to go well, and to go well for agriculture. I don’t want it just for myself, but for everyone involved. If we work together, we can usually find a solution.”

One of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today is marketing, coupled with trade and tariffs, Sigler says. He’s doing what he can to work with others to be part of the solution.

Mark Sigler at a glance    

Age: 62
Location: Frankton, Madison County, Ind.
Position: chief operating officer and treasurer for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. since 1994
Spouse: Dee Dee
Children: Amber Cole and Adam Sigler, six grandchildren
Duties: attends to business side of INFB and works closely with INFB President Randy Kron
Education: Purdue University, B.S. ’79 in ag education
Leadership: Sigler served one term on the Indiana State Fair Board and served as swine superintendent; he is still the 4-H swine show announcer at Indiana State Fair. He’s former chairman of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association, former chairman of the Indiana AgriInstitute, and former chairman of the Madison County 4-H Council.
Notable: The Purdue livestock judging team that won the North American International Livestock Exposition collegiate contest was recognized in 2018 for the 40th anniversary since its first-place finish at Louisville. Sigler was a member of the team. Even legendary coach Roger Hunsley attended the event. “It was hard to believe it had been 40 years,” Sigler said.
Green line across green market background maciek905/Thinkstock

Wrong side of the boat

The smart money betting on commodities appeared to be a day late and more than a dollar short this week after a big rally in crude and a shocking USDA report.

Here’s what funds were up to through Tuesday, June 25, when the CFTC collected data for its latest Commitment of Traders.


Late to the party

Just six week’s ago big speculators held record bearish bets against agriculture. But this week’s CFTC report showed then finally turning long. These hedge funds added a net 52,633 contracts to adopt a most net long position, buying corn, soy and winter wheat while selling cotton and livestock.


Long and wrong

Big speculators started trimming bullish bets on corn before Friday’s bearish USDA reports. But for the week ended Tuesday they were still net buyers, adding 48,731 net contracts to take their position to its biggest level in more than a year.


Trimming the hedges

Big speculators covered more of their bearish bets in soybeans this week, buying back another 11,658 contracts and were probably glad they did after USDA cut its acreage estimate Friday.


Small change

Hedge funds were only small buyers of soybean oil in the latest week, cutting 369 contracts off bearish bets. Plunging palm oil futures on weaker export ideas held back buying.


Not quite

Big speculators trimmed some of the shorts added the previous week, buying a net 2,752 contracts but still hold a small net short position in meal overall.


Eight is great

Big speculators covered bearish bets against soft red winter wheat for the eighth straight week buying 3,983 contracts. The hedge funds are still short, running into a red-hot cash market in Toledo.


Follow the leader

Funds bought more hard red winter wheat last week, trimming 3,743 lots off their net short position, which also fell for the eighth straight week.


Special delivery

Large traders in Minneapolis started selling spring wheat again this week, adding 3,132 net short contracts just in time for heavy deliveries Friday on first notice day for July futures.


Too cautious

Money managers were small sellers of crude oil as of Tuesday, liquidating futures and options worth around $75 million. But prices surged the next day after the government reported a huge drop in inventories.

cotton-Gullett-Huguley-18 (1 of 1).jpg Shelley E. Huguley

Texas Tech, USDA to sign an agreement to open cotton classing facility

Monday, July 1, 2019, Texas Tech University and the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Cotton and Tobacco Program (C&T) will sign a cooperative agreement to allow C&T to construct, own and operate a cotton classing facility on Texas Tech's campus near the Rawls Golf Course.

Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec and USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach, will sign the agreement at 10:30 a.m., at Texas Tech in the courtyard of the Bayer Plant Science Building, 2911 15th Street. Following, Schovanec and Ibach also will participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Cotton classing offices across the U.S. measure and classify cotton by its specific physical attributes, enabling it to be marketed by producers. But classing information also gives precise information to consumers regarding the cotton fibers, allowing it to be used in the most optimized way to produce top-quality cotton products. While Lubbock is already home to the largest cotton classing office in the world, the new state-of-the-art facility with its campus location will not only benefit the university and U.S. cotton industry but the community as well, reports Texas Tech University in a June 28 news release. 

U.S. Reps. Jodey Arrington and Mike Conaway also will deliver remarks at the event. Arrington represents the 19th district and serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and Conaway represents the 11th district of Texas and is the ranking member of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture.

Image of grain bins with words Grain market week in review with Bryce Knorr and Ben Potter in white. Entire image has red tint.

Grain market week in review - June 28, 2019

Missed some market news this week? Here’s what Bryce Knorr and Ben Potter have been writing about this week.


A lower open across the board Sunday night didn’t last long as selling quickly dried up at the start of a crucial week for the grain market. This afternoon’s crop progress reports will show whether farmers planted any more corn last week, with USDA updating its estimate for acreage on Friday. The trade war between the U.S. and China also faces a test later in the week at the G-20 summit in Japan, where President Trump and President Xi of China are set to meet.

There’s plenty of things for investors on Wall Street to worry about right now, from tensions with Iran to the upcoming G-20 summit. But grain traders are focused on one thing as usual during the summer: weather. Monday’s progress report from USDA showed crops suffering from too much rain, though conditions reflect a tale of two Corn Belts. Fields improved in the west but declined sharply east of the Mississippi River, which is closed again due to high water in St. Louis.

Temperatures could top 100 degrees over the weekend in parts of the western Corn Belt, but that’s not the heat traders are waiting for. USDA releases crucial acreage and stocks data Friday followed by the long-awaited meeting between President Trump and President Xi of China at the G-20 summit Saturday.

Markets are quiet overnight, a situation that may not last once USDA releases highly anticipated reports at 11 a.m. CDT. While June 1 Grain Stocks can sometimes surprise, all eyes will be on the agency’s acreage estimates after a historically wet spring disrupted the planting season. Other markets are also wary as trade negotiators from the U.S. and China talk at the G-20 summit, with President Trump and President Xi scheduled to meet tomorrow.

Crop progress

USDA is typically done reporting corn planting progress by late June, but this spring’s set of unusually wet circumstances has the agency still reporting those numbers for the week ending June 23. Other highlights of this week’s report include soybean planting progress, corn and soybean crop quality, and winter wheat harvest progress.


Basis outlook - The Upper Mississippi River is finally open for business. Some 15 tows moved upriver north of St. Louis in the first 24 hours after the harbor in St. Louis was given a green flag to reopen. While seven tugs moved down river towards St. Louis they carried few barges, and will instead be putting together tows. Northbound locking was permitted to get going first get the flow of grain going again towards the Gulf. High water is expected to limit tow sizes.

Energy/Ethanol Outlook - Price targets and seasonal trends aren’t only for grain marketing. They can also be useful when it comes to buying volatile energy inputs for the farm. Farmers may think the grain market is volatile. But crude oil fluctuations can be even more intense.

Financial outlook - The refusal of the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates this year triggered the ire of President Trump, who says the central bank’s tightening last year was a mistake. But the president may get his way soon, perhaps at the end of the Fed’s two-day meeting on monetary policy July 31.

Fertilizer outlook - After a disastrous fall and spring application season, fertilizer may be the last topic growers want to think about. But it’s time to get serious about booking supplies for 2020, when prices could be higher if corn acres expand as expected.


Farmers reporting Feedback From The Field last week made only incremental progress, raising their corn planting estimates to 94%. Most have long given up planting, switching to soybeans or, more likely, taking prevent plant coverage from crop insurance policies. Growers said they made some headway with soybean planting.

Acreage report

Planted corn acres this year are expected to reach 91.7 million acres, according to USDA. That tally is 3% higher than 2018’s total. Expected harvested acres are moderately lower, at 83.6 million acres, but still 2% above last year. USDA’s assessment for 2019/20 all-wheat U.S. acres declined slightly, to 45.6 million acres after the agency increased estimates for winter wheat acres but lowered estimates for spring wheat acres. USDA pegged 2019 U.S. soybean acres well below analyst expectations, with a total of 80.4 million acres.


Even though total grain export inspections for corn, soybeans and wheat fell shy of weekly rates needed to reach USDA marketing year forecasts, there were some bright spots for the week ending June 20, according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

USDA had a mixed bag of export sales data in its latest weekly report, out Thursday morning. Wheat saw the most upside last week, according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

Two large export sales of soybeans were reported this week. China took nearly 20 million bushels and unknown destinations took 5.3 million bushels.


Grain futures are narrowly mixed today as the market counts down to USDA grain stocks and acreage reports due at 11 a.m. CDT. While the estimates of plantings won’t be the last word on the subject they should dominate the discussion until more is known about yield potential.

USDA’s highly anticipated acreage report, out Friday morning, shocked grain prices in today’s session. Corn and wheat saw major cuts based on the agency’s latest numbers, which had corn acreage significantly higher than anticipated. Soybean acres fell lower than analyst expectations, meantime, helping push prices nearly 1.5% higher.

Current location of VSV cases USDA
This map from USDA shows current locations of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) cases.

Vesicular stomatitis in New Mexico and Texas

Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) has been confirmed in New Mexico and Texas in the past few days.

USDA says on June 26 the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, confirmed a finding of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection (Indiana serotype) on a premises in Sandoval County, New Mexico.

The agency says two horses on the premises have met the case definition of infection with compatible clinical signs and positive complement fixation test (CFT) titers at a greater than 1:40 dilution, indicating recent infection. Both horses are also polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-positive for VSV (Indiana serotype) on swabs collected from the lesions.

This is the 2019 VSV index case for New Mexico. The VSV index premises for New Mexico is a boarding facility with 17 horses, seven llamas, and two goats. USDA says the two horses confirmed as VSV-infected reside in a pasture together and have no recent history of movements from the premises. There are no other animals at the facility currently showing clinical signs of VSV. The facility is under state quarantine and will remain so until at least 14 days from the onset of lesions in the last affected animal on the premises.

On June 21 the Indian serotype VSV was confirmed in horses in Kinney County, Texas, by the Texas Animal Health Commission. On June 24 VSV was confirmed in a horse in Tom Green County, Texas.

The Texas events prompted the Colorado State Veterinarian's Office to issue a warning to livestock owners in that state on June 25. The state vet's office says a VSV outbreak in 2014 and 2015 in Colorado resulted in several hundred quarantines and movement restrictions involving horses and cattle. Management of the disease is aimed at effective control while minimizing the negative economic impacts to livestock owners.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual online, VSV is seen sporadically in the US. Outbreaks historically occurred in all regions of the country but since the 1980s have been limited to western states and occur seasonally, usually May through October. Examples would be 1995, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, and 2012. It says the largest outbreak in the past decade occurred in 2005 and affected nine states.

The Merck manual says VSV can be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals with lesions or by blood-feeding insects. In the southwestern USA, black flies are the most likely biologic insect vector. In endemic areas, sand flies are proven biologic vectors. Other insects may act as mechanical vectors. Exposure to insects that carry the virus is often associated with nearby moving water sources such as creeks or rivers or irrigation of pastures. 

Feral hogs: how quickly can they reproduce?

Feral swine reproduction, like domestic swine, is three months, three weeks and three days. One sow may have between five and eight piglets and, if she doesn’t get bred, comes into heat every 18 to 24 days. “They have many chances to breed, so their potential to put young on the ground is high,” says Dr. John Tomecek, assistant professor and Extension wildlife specialist, Stiles Farm, Thrall, Texas. "Not all of them survive but many of them do and within six to 12 months all of those young are ready to have their piglets.”

As the hog population continues to grow in Texas, Tomecek says just to keep numbers where they are, two-thirds of the living pigs would need to be killed annually. “We estimate we only kill about one-third of the pigs.”

Watch this video, to hear more.

To read more about feral hogs go to:

To view additional interviews with Tomecek, go to:

Midwest crop progress: Unpredictable conditions create growth variability

The agronomy team from WinField United has been out in fields across the Midwest. They're seeing variable growth stages and are encouraging farmers to scout fields for diseases and pests, and to be sure to control weeds as soon as possible. If necessary, tissue tests can help determine if fertilizer applications are necessary.


Source: WinField United

The source is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

Flooded field after 3.5 inch rainfall overnight in southern Minnesota. Janet Kubat Willette

USDA reports a shock

Updated 11:44 a.m.

Grain futures are mixed this morning following a very surprising USDA report that ran completely against expectations. Soybean seedings plunged while corn ground rose from the agency’s estimates earlier this month.

Corn and wheat prices fell sharply immediately following the report, with soybean prices climbing around 1% Friday morning.

Planted corn acres this year are expected to reach 91.7 million acres, according to USDA. That tally is 3% higher than 2018’s total. Expected harvested acres are moderately lower, at 83.6 million acres, but still 2% above last year.


Analysts, in contrast, were expecting USDA to show 86.662 million acres in its annual acreage report, including a projection of 87.1 million acres from Farm Futures, which regularly participates in these surveys.

“A footnote in today’s acreage report encapsulates the debate that should rage in the market in coming days,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “It noted that only 83% of the corn crop was planted during the period when USDA surveyed growers. What happened to those 15.6 million acres will play a large role in determining where prices are headed in the next year. Progress in key states like Illinois was even slower, yet the agency reduced its estimate for the Land of Lincoln by just only 200,000 from the 11.2 million intended in March.”

A re-survey of slow-planting states seems likely, unless USDA opts to wait for farmers to certify their acres with the Farm Service Agency, which must be done by July 15, Knorr adds.

“USDA normally doesn’t release its first report on certifications until the afternoon its August production, supply and demand report comes out,” he says. “The FSA certifications will be used to determine payments in the second round of the Market Facilitation Program, so there’s a chance prevent plant data will come out earlier than normal. USDA has a tendency to over-estimate corn acres in this June report during wet years, so revisions to the final numbers are quite possible.”

In the meantime, some chart indicators have turned bearish for corn, Knorr says. But even with a lot of uncertainty, it may not make sense to chase this market lower unless you’re very confident about yield potential, he says. But if USDA is correct, and yields don’t suffer too much, the top could be in for this market.

Domestic corn stocks still took a dip year-over-year, moving to 5.202 billion bushels, versus 5.305 billion bushels the same time a year ago. Analysts were actually predicting a small increase, to 5.332 billion bushels.

“Lost in the acreage news for corn was a friendly stocks number, which means feed usage could be better than the government previously estimated, at least through the first three-quarters of the marketing year,” Knorr says.

USDA pegged 2019 U.S. soybean acres well below analyst expectations, meantime, with a total of 80.4 million acres. The average trade guess was for 84.355 million acres, including a Farm Futures estimate of 84.0 million acres.



“The acreage news for soybeans was almost as shocking as for corn,” Knorr says. “Again, there were so many unplanted acres when the survey was conducted, it’s hard to know what the final figure will be. Supplies are burdensome, but this report may shield soybeans from the worst. Today’s purchase by could give the market a little more confidence depending on how the G-20 talks turn out.”

U.S. soybean stocks moved moderately higher year-over-year, from 1.219 billion bushels in June of 2018 up to 1.790 billion bushels. Analysts were expecting an even bigger bump, with an average trade guess of 1.861 billion bushels.

USDA’s assessment for 2019/20 all-wheat U.S. acres declined slightly, to 45.6 million acres after the agency increased estimates for winter wheat acres but lowered estimates for spring wheat acres. Analysts expectations were nearly on the nose here, with estimates of 45.654 million acres, including a Farm Futures projection of 45.5 million acres.

“Today’s numbers for wheat weren’t bearish, but the market sold off anyway due to the drop in corn,” Knorr says. “Add in a little harvest pressure, and wheat could be choppy in the near-term while the rest of the market gets sorted out.”

Domestic wheat stocks declined slightly year-over-year, moving from 1.099 billion bushels in 2018 down to 1.072 billion bushels. Analysts were expecting a fractional increase, with an average trade guess of 1.100 billion bushels.