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Articles from 2018 In September

Attacking our food again

In Samuelson Says, Orion says we are “attacking our food again.” Orion takes a look at Consumer Reports’ recent article about eating beef.

Samuelson Sez is a special feature of This Week in Agribusiness where Orion Samuelson shares his insights and perspectives into key issues of the day. You can reach out to Orion at

1957 John Deere 520

In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max introduces a 1957 John Deere 520 that is owned by Russ Carpenter of Ithaca, New York. This tractor has been on this farm for a long time and has a big date coming up.

Max's Tractor Shed is a regular feature of This Week in Agribusiness. Max Armstrong shares information about legacy machines, their stories and how they may still be at work today. If you have a tractor you want featured in Max's Tractor Shed, send a high-resolution digital picture, your contact information, and information about the tractor - what makes it special - to

Morris Area FFA

Mike Adams profiles Morris Area FFA in Morris, Minnesota. Morris area claims one of the largest dairy milking operations in the state. Member Sam Greiner tells us how her project helped her reach out to the community.

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


Jennifer Clouse Swope Indiana Farm Bureau
KNOWS HER BUSINESS: Jennifer Clouse Swope knows the ins and outs of the seed products she sells farmers. She also farms in her own right on her family farm.

Indiana women assume key roles in agriculture

By Molly Zentz   

Women make up about 30% of farm operators. That’s only one role Hoosier women play in agriculture. You’ll also find women in agribusiness and supporting the farm part time, often alongside an off-farm job.

Isabella Chism, Indiana Farm Bureau’s second vice president and chair of the Women’s Leadership Committee, is excited about the increase of women in the industry.

“Women have always been a vital part of the farm team,” Chism says. “But it’s exciting to see them stepping into new roles and positions of leadership.”

The number of women who own and operate farms is steadily increasing. According to USDA, the number of female-run farms has nearly tripled in the past 30 years. 

“We have more women in agriculture than ever before, and they’re serving our industry in so many ways,” Chism says. “I don’t see that changing. I’ve met many young women in this state who have big plans for their future in this industry.”

APPRECIATES LEADERSHIP: Isabella Chism appreciates the leadership roles Indiana women are assuming on and off the farm today.

In 2016, 62% of Purdue University College of Agriculture students were women.

Many agriculture organizations have programs specifically catered to this growing population, including Indiana Farm Bureau and its women’s leadership program. It provides women with a platform for leadership, political involvement and networking.

Here’s the first of several profiles of active women leaders in agriculture:

Jennifer Clouse Swope
As an employee of LG Seeds, Jennifer Clouse Swope works with farmers to place hybrid products on their farms, checks crops during the growing season and helps growers after harvest plan for the future.

“The agriculture industry has made me who I am today, and I hope that I can raise my family in that same way,” Swope says. “I love working in the field beside my family, knowing that we are doing everything we can to be the best stewards of the land that the previous generations worked so hard on.”

Swope says the biggest accomplishment of her career so far has been steady growth.

“Sometimes sales is a slow process, so it can be hard to not lose sight of your goals,” she explains. “But in the past year, my efforts have really started to pay off, and it has been exciting to see growth with existing customers and an increase of new customers.”

Swope is a sixth-generation farmer on her family’s farm in Bartholomew County, where she plays a large role in planting and harvesting each year. She grew up watching her family work together on the farm.

“Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away when I was 2 years old, so my mom became more involved on the farm,” she says. “Growing up, my dad would plant corn while my mom was planting beans. They both haul the grain, and my mom is the main operator of our combine during harvest.”

Her mom was always a source of inspiration, which helped guide her to her career today.

“I never questioned whether or not I could do something because I grew up watching my mom do it all,” Swope says. “I realized that if this is what I love, nothing could stop me from doing it, too.”

Zentz is public relations manager for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. This is the first in a series of stories about women’s roles in agriculture.

three Labradors lizcen/Getty Images
MAN’S BEST FRIEND: God knew man would need a constant companion that wouldn’t judge — so he made dogs.

So God made a dog

The Creator knew the world would soon be in a fallen state, and mankind would often be cruel to one another. So God created a beast that would be loyal and free from judgment. No matter the master’s undesirable manners, his terrible breath in the morning or the nasty cough that would chase everyone else away, his dog would be content by his side.

God knew that loneliness would overtake wearied souls, and a much-trusted friend would be necessary as they cried or talked through hard times. Soft and caring eyes that seemed to understand the language of woe would be essential. The beast would need patience with the slobbering, hair-grabbing toddler and with the teenage boy as he would drive off to be with friends rather than playing fetch in the yard.

God knew an old man would need a companion when the voice of his wife of 50 years was suddenly silenced. The middle school girl sobbing on her bed after her first heartbreak would be comforted when the tender beast was available for hugs as he licked the tears from her face. He would sit through little girls painting his toenails and crazy women dressing him up in ridiculous costumes.

More needs
Vulnerable animals would need guarding, as well as houses. So God set fight in the beast to protect what he deemed as rightfully his to serve, even until death. The dog would know what and who was his to look after, and nothing would keep him from sounding the warning signs — no matter the day or hour. 

Left at home while the family was away, the dog would wait and watch, no matter the duration. Ears constantly perked, listening for that familiar vehicle. Every single time the mom would move, no matter how many circles she made around the kitchen or the house, he would make it his job to be with her like an ever-present bodyguard.

Life would be hard and stressful, so God set playfulness into the beast’s legs and head and gave him a strong desire for amusement. Moodiness would void in the beast — humans have that covered. He would be smart enough to know when a trip to the vet was coming or a pill was hidden in a piece of bacon.

The dog would be content to ride around in the truck or sit in a combine. He wouldn’t complain about the music he heard or long hours. He didn’t really care what was going on if he could be with those who called out his name. Even if they paid no attention to him as they scampered off the school bus, his thumping and wiggling tail would reveal his pleasure that his keep was now safe.

The beast would go into scorched buildings. A brave partner, he would gladly fly across the globe and work beside those in uniform. He’d sense the vulnerable of spirit and mind and would offer them compassion and respect.

And when he was ready to fill his last dog day, God would grant beautiful memories to enjoy as hearts grieved. Such is the case for our family as we remember Jack the Wonder Dog. Truly, you were man’s best beast and friend!

McClain writes from Greenwood, Ind.

WONDER DOG: Our family recently said goodbye to a dear old friend, our family pet, Jack the Wonder Dog.

This Week in Agribusiness, Sept. 29, 2018

Part 1

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

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams are talking about harvest this week, with reports from Russell Nemetz on sugar beets and Chad Colby on corn. Jerry Gidel of Price Futures Group talks with Max and Mike about what’s happening as another big harvest rolls in amid trade challenges.

Part 2

Jerry Gidel of Price Futures Group rejoins Max and Mike and they turn their attention to dig deep on the trade war with Chinese. Chad Colby in the Colby Ag Tech segment takes a look at the new iPhone. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Western United States.  

Part 3

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams hear from Chad Colby again as he takes off with a report about aviation technology and agriculture. Max remembers listening to tractor radios and talks to a collector of antique tractor radios, Mike Hodupp of Marion, Indiana.

Part 4

Max Armstrong and Mike Adams are taking a look at novel safety programs. Max chats with some of the thinkers behind the project. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the Eastern United States. In Max’s Tractor Shed, Max introduces a 1957 John Deere 520 that is owned by Russ Carpenter of Ithaca, New York. This tractor has been on this farm for a long time and has a big date coming up.

Part 5

Max Armstrong talks with Mark Betner of Mystik Lubricants about automatic transmission fluids

Part 6

Mike Adams profiles Morris Area FFA in Morris, Minnesota. Morris area claims one of the largest dairy milking operations in the state. Member Sam Greiner tells us how her project helped her reach out to kids in their community. In Samuelson Says, Orion says we are “attacking our food again.” Orion takes a look at Consumer Reports recent article about eating beef. Agricultural Meteorologist Greg Soulje looks at weather for the week ahead.

Part 7

Max and Mike talk about all the stressors on farmers right now and how they can seek help when things seem impossible to fix.

Blue background with white line solarseven/Thinkstock

Grain market week in review - Sept. 28, 2018

Need to catch up on the market news of the week? We’ve got you covered. Check out what you missed from the continuing trade dispute with China to Friday’s release of the Sept. 1 grain stocks data.

Morning audio by Bryce Knorr

Markets closed in China today for a holiday, but that didn’t keep the trade dispute with the U.S. out of the headlines. Soybeans pulled back from last week’s rally after China cancelled the next round of trade talks as new tariffs begin to take effect today. Wheat overcame the negative attitude due to dry forecasts in Europe and the Plains, helping corn hold to minor changes overnight.

Bearish trading in soybeans didn’t last long overnight, when follow-through selling from Monday’s downturn dried up quickly. November futures are trying to hold a reversal higher, despite improving crop ratings last week. Farmers continue to make progress harvesting 2018 crops; to do that they’re burning more fuel, helping Midwest cash wholesale diesel prices surge to their highest level in nearly four years. 

Grain markets are higher this morning, paced by gains in wheat and soybeans as farmers focus on bringing in big fall harvests. Stock index futures rebounded from selling Tuesday, as Wall Street waits for today’s statement on monetary policy from the Federal Reserve that’s widely expected to include another quarter-point increase in the central bank’s benchmark short-term interest rate. 

The stock market sold off late on Wednesday, despite an upbeat assessment of the economy and no surprises from the central bank’s latest statement on monetary policy. The Fed did raise interest rates, but that was seen as a done deal before the meeting this week. Investors may just be taking profits ahead of nervous moments in Washington and the end of the third quarter Friday. Grain traders may have a similar mentality today, waiting for release of Friday’s Sept. 1 grain stocks data and today’s export numbers. 

Quarterly grain stocks reports from USDA are sometimes difficult to interpret. But this morning’s numbers, due out at 11 a.m. CDT, represent final ending stocks for the 2017 marketing years in corn and soybeans. While corn could see a small reduction due to strong exports and usage for ethanol, soybean carryout could be higher that USDA’s Sept. 12 forecast if the 2017 crop was bigger than previously reported.

Deep Dive

The quarterly USDA grain stocks report is one of many reports the agency regularly releases that can have a big impact on grain prices. This report is sometimes hard to predict, although they tend to have a bottom line that is easy to understand. In the latest episode of the Deep Dive podcast, we take a closer look and cut through some of the data to come to some helpful conclusions, including learning more about what surprises sometimes pop up in these reports. 

Feedback from the Field

With more growers getting in the field to harvest, corn and soybean yield reported to Feedback From The Field last week improved. But a producer from southern Kentucky summed up what many producers have noted this year: highly variable yields. “Corn yields go from 80 to 200 depending on the spot in the field,” was the post. “Best yields are happening on well drained ground that usually is the poorest performers.”


Corn export inspections for the week ending Sept. 20 continue to forge ahead with solid results, while soybeans retreated slightly from the prior week’s results and wheat posted an identical tally from a week ago.

Chinese tariffs on imports of U.S. soybeans knocked prices for a loop. But data on shipments since the trade dispute ratcheted higher in July show the market adjusting to what amounts to the new normal. Both Brazil and the U.S. sold more soybeans. 

For the week ending Sept. 20, corn, soybean and wheat export sales all posted healthy totals, which helped futures prices gain a little traction Thursday morning. “The corn numbers were especially encouraging and suggest we may be seeing a role reversal this year,” says Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. 

USDA data

USDA updates estimates of grain stocks on a quarterly basis, numbers that sometimes are deep, inside-baseball stuff. But reports out Sept. 28 for corn and soybeans, though hard to predict, have a bottom line that’s easy to understand. Friday’s estimates will show how much corn and soybeans were left over at the end of the 2017 marketing year. This Sept. 1 number becomes the beginning stocks for the government’s projection of 2018 crop supply and demand. Coupled with imports and 2018 production, this is the amount available over the coming year. 

USDA put Sept. 1 corn supplies at 2.14 billion bushels, 138 million more than its last estimate of old crop carryout on Sept. 12. Today’s larger than expected total suggests feed usage during the summer was smaller than expected, helping shrink the amount walking off the farm for the 2017 crop by some 200 million bushels below USDA’s last estimate. The government also raised its forecast of soybean supplies leftover at the end of the marketing year. At 438 million, Sept. 1 inventories were up 43 million from USDA’s Sept. 12 report. While part of the increase likely is due to sampling error from previous reports, the agency also said the 2017 crop was 19 million bushels larger than reported in January, raising the yield by two-tenths of a bushel per acre to 49.3 bpa nationwide. Total production was put at 4.411 billion bushels.

If combines aren’t already rolling near you, chances are they will be soon, according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report. USDA has the 2018 U.S. corn harvest at 16% complete for the week ending Sept. 23, moving ahead from 9% the prior week. Soybean harvest reached 14% complete as of Sept. 23, up from 6% the week prior and ahead of 2017’s pace of 9% and the five-year average of 8%.

Friday’s market reports

Grain futures are narrowly mixed this morning as a choppy overnight session comes to a close ahead of USDA’s wheat production and Sept. 1 grain stocks due out at 11 a.m. CDT. While today’s data may not provide huge surprises, end of the month and quarter position and prehedging ahead of the weekend’s harvest could keep futures grinding.

USDA’s quarterly stocks report was the main driver in grain markets today, delivering mostly bearish news. Corn futures tumbled more than 2% by Friday’s close, with soybeans down more than 1%. The agency’s stock report had more bullish news for wheat, but those futures also ended around 0.5% lower amid some quarter-end liquidation. 


Corn and soybeans rallied to multi-week highs earlier this week. But that rally was built on short-covering, not new buying from speculators according to today’s update from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Here’s what funds were up to through Tuesday, Sept. 25, when the CFTC collected data for its latest Commitment of Traders.


Basis Outlook- While growers are trying to figure out the direction of futures prices, the cash market was also a puzzle last week. Highly variable bids for corn and soybeans resulted in basis overall that was steady to firmer despite weak bids in parts of the country.

Soybean Outlook- USDA’s September reports were about as bearish for soybeans as you can get. A bigger than expected increase in yields could more than double the amount of soybeans left over a year from now when harvest 2019 begins.

Wheat Outlook- The wheat market can point fingers at plenty of reasons why prices struggled over the past month, from seasonal trends to the negative mood in corn and soybeans. But charts and perhaps fundamentals too suggest hopes for a modest rebound.

Corn Outlook- The first half of September wasn’t good for the corn market, and that’s putting it mildly. After showing signs of life to start the month, futures ran into a bearish USDA report, and the negative news flow hasn’t let up much. While there may be light at the end of the tunnel, for now it’s pretty hard to see.

Energy/Ethanol Outlook- Growers needing fuel to harvest and dry big crops this year face higher costs, and fuel bills likely won’t get any cheaper in 2019. In fact, the only cheap fuel these days is the one farmers produce: ethanol. Prices for the biofuel remain near the lowest level since the corn-into-energy boom began more than a decade ago. 

Financial Outlook– Bears may own the grain market right now. But on Wall Street, bulls are running. Both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes soared to record levels on Thursday. Strong corporate profits and a 48-year low in jobless claims propelled Wall Street, despite angst over trade disputes, high energy prices, emerging market troubles and all-but certain interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve. 

Fertilizer Outlook- While fertilizer costs continued to edge mostly higher this week, the strong summer rally showed signs of cooling as fall begins. But growers still trying to book products for fall application – or hoping for a pullback this winter for spring needs – may see limited reductions if recent seasonal patterns prevail. Lower production of corn and wheat over the past year could support demand, even if U.S. crop prices are weak. 

ket-graph-monsitj-ThinkstockPhotos-1540x800 monsitj/ThinkstockPhotos

Time for a test

Corn and soybeans rallied to multi-week highs earlier this week. But that rally was built on short-covering, not new buying from speculators according to today’s update from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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


Squaring positions

Big speculators bought back bearish bets in crops this week, which helped trim 73,484 contracts off their net short position in futures and options. Still, hedge funds remain bearish and were ready to sell later in the week.

Calm before storm

Big speculators liquidated 29,695 contracts of their net short position in corn this week but were still short 146,501. Friday’s bearish USDA stocks report put these hedge funds back in a selling mode, as they turned around and sold most of those positions again.


Selling pause

Big speculators hit the pause button earlier this week, helping futures firm by trimming 13,425 contracts off their net short position in soybeans. Higher than expected stocks had them adding to back to their bearish bet Friday.


Plenty of room

After extending their bearish bet in soybean oil last week to an all-time record, big speculators had room for short covering, buying back 24,993 contracts. They were still short 77,762 contracts as of Tuesday.


Protein shake

Big speculators bought a little soybean meal earlier this week, adding 4,563 contracts back to their net long position – lots they appeared to sell after the bearish USDA reports.


Please hold

Big speculators were light sellers in soft red winter wheat early this week, adding 468 contracts to their net short position. Investors using index funds to gain exposure to commodities were more aggressive, liquidating 6,740 contracts.


Chipping away

Big speculators knocked another 5,964 contracts off their shrinking net long position in hard red winter wheat, which fell to 23,056 lots this week. Index traders also sold.


Slipping away

Large spring wheat traders were sellers again this week, adding 701 contracts back to their net short position.


Flattened funds

Money managers liquidated a little more of their net long position in crude oil this week, selling around $70 million in futures and options as prices rose back over $72 a barrel.


The Impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Agriculture

Dr. Kristine A. Tidgren, adjunct assistant professor in the Agricultural Education & Studies Department and Director for the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation, Iowa State University, will review the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on farming businesses in a webinar, Oct 11.

 This class will discuss issues affecting owners of small C corporations, S corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships.

Dr. Tidgren’s work focuses on studying and interpreting laws affecting the agricultural industry. In particular, she focuses on agricultural taxation. Included in the discussion will be a review of the new IRC § 199A deduction and its impact on agricultural cooperatives and their patrons, new depreciation and expensing provisions, new loss provisions, and the new tax treatment for personal property “trades.”

The webinar gets under way at 10:00 a.m. Central Time in  (U.S. and Canada).

Link to Register:

5 Stories not to miss: Corn stalk health; soybean harvest and problem weeds

In this week's gallery of five stories not to miss, we take a look at ways to reduce weed seed movement during harvest and producers should evaluate the health of corn stalks before deciding on their harvest plan.

Plus, check out these tips from Penn State University to minimize soybean harvest loss.