Agriculture Markets

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Today’s markets: Late plantings loom

Today’s reports are Cattle on Feed and Milk Production at 2:00 P.M. Central. Word on the city streets is that farmers in certain areas are getting in the field. And global investors are wagering that the U.S. Farmer will beat Old Man Winter. It is still too early to tell because as are recent reeducation, “It is not nice to fool Mother Nature”, and next we will be talking a bumper crop. This is going to be an interesting year with geo-political and global weather concerns that may leave a food shortage as emerging markets must feed their people. In the overnight electronic session the May Corn is currently trading at 380 which is 2 cents lower. The trading range has been 381 ¾ to 379 ¼.

On the Ethanol front we had activity in the market last night we rollovers stretching to waking up the July contract as reality of the summer driving season is fast approaching if you can believe that. In the overnight electronic session the May Ethanol is currently trading at 1.502 which is .006 lower. The trading range has been 1.510 to 1.502. 20 contracts changed hands and Open Interest dwindled to 664 contracts. The market is currently showing 2 bids @ 1.501 and 1 offer 1 offer @ 1.504.

On the Crude Oil front prices dipped after President Donald Trump tweeted high Crude Oil prices, “Will not be accepted’, after OPEC and non-OPEC countries committed to further extend production cuts. In the overnight electronic session the June Crude Oil is currently trading at 6798 which is 35 points lower. The trading range has been6866 to 6761. I do expect this market to seek higher prices today and premiums to soar in Spring and Summer.

On the Natural Gas front the market is gaining strength after the selloff on yesterday’s bullish EIA Gas Storage number and the market failed. In the overnight electronic session the May contract is currently trading at 2.685 which is 2 ½ cents higher. The trading range has been 2.686 to 2.658.

— Daniel Flynn

 

The Energy Report: Virtual oil reality

Oil bear must face virtual reality as OPEC says that the global oil glut is “virtually” gone. Now there are reports that the Saudi oil minister Khalid al Falih wants to reduce stockpiles even further. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak is on board saying that Russia was committed to a deal on cutting oil supplies until the end of 2018, no matter what. The biggest oil glut of all time that was close to 380 million barrels over the five-year average, has dwindled to a mere 12 million barrels, which is just about 8 hours of daily oil consumption. The glut is virtually gone and while OPEC is happy President Donald Trump is not.

President Donald Trump tweeted ”Looks like OPEC is at it again. With record amounts of oil all over the place, including the fully loaded ships at sea, oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!” What he will do about it is a different question.

Still Khalid Al-Falih complains that oil inventories are still above where they were before the downturn, “The inventory drawdown needs to continue” but “we are not decided yet on precisely what is the target.” He says that Saudi Arabia maintain 1.5-2 mil barrel a day of spare capacity, but others must help. “The kingdom cannot take on the burden singlehandedly. We expect other countries to work with us to reciprocate the burden that the kingdom maintains on behalf of the industry.”

Yet, it is not just OPEC that has erased the glut. It has really been a demand story that has driven prices, we believe that major reporting agencies have been underestimating demand and demand growth. We believe that global demand is above estimates. Next year that demand growth should continue. We should see growth of well over 2 million barrels of oil a day, an amount that shale oil producers will be hard pressed to raise production anywhere near those levels. Even then, there could be growing logistical issues and the light quality of the oil will keep us hard pressed to meet demand.

WTI oil has weakened versus Brent after Genscape reported a rebound in Cushing Oklahoma stocks. Oil could surge if OPEC and Non-OPEC announces an extension and even now the market is hoping for it, though it probably won’t happen today. If they do announce an extension, it is not really expected. Rig counts may give us a jump either way but there is still “the not wanting to be short over the weekend” trade.

This comes as Reuters and the Wall Street Journal report that hedge funds have never been more bullish on oil. The Journal reported that hedge funds and other big money managers increased their net-long position—a bet on rising prices—in Brent to the highest level since records started in 2011, according to data from Intercontinental Exchange Inc. Bets on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil price gauge, are also near a record, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Some worry that may mean the oil is ripe for a correction. Others believe that the funds have got it right as they see the historic supply slide continuing and global demand rising. Natural gas saw a draw of 35 bcf’ s as winter weather caught the supply side by surprise. Yet even with the bullish drop Nat Gas struggled as we may see some spring weather start to kick in. Thank God!

— Phil Flynn

 

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Tags: agriculture news, ag news, commodity markets, commodities, crop markets, corn, oil, Price Futures Group
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Mental health crisis addressed in FARMERS FIRST Act

The mental health crisis in rural America is being addressed in Washington D.C. thanks to two U.S. senators. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) have introduced the bipartisan Facilitating Accessible Resources for Mental Health and Encouraging Rural Solutions For Immediate Response to Stressful Times (FARMERS FIRST) Act to provide our nation’s agricultural community with critical mental health support and resources.

A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found agricultural workers have a higher suicide rate than any other occupation. To assist these farmers in crisis, Senators Ernst and Baldwin’s bipartisan legislation would provide seed funding through the USDA to state departments of agriculture, state extension services, and non-profits to establish helplines, provide suicide prevention training for farm advocates, create support groups, and reestablish the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. In addition to these resources, the bill would establish a Farm and Ranch Stress Assessment Committee to better understand how agricultural workers’ mental health impacts rural development and provide recommendations for addressing mental health care needs within the agriculture community.

“Farmers are the backbone of our rural economy and leaders in our rural communities. Washington has been slow to recognize the challenges that farmers are facing and the daily stressors that they experience during difficult years,” said Senator Baldwin. “The FARMERS FIRST Act will make sure that when there is a crisis on the farm, farmers know they are not alone and there are resources available to help them find a path through tough times. This bipartisan reform will provide funding for local resources and expand access to stress reduction strategies and suicide prevention programs that will help tackle this problem and save lives.”

“The incredibly high rate of suicide within the agricultural community underscores the urgent need to act to address this crisis,” said Senator Ernst. “We must do more to ensure those who work tirelessly from sunrise to sundown to feed and fuel our world have access to the mental health resources and supports they need. With more than 88,000 farms and over 150,000 farmers in Iowa, our agricultural community is the backbone of our state, I am glad to partner with Senator Baldwin to improve the quality and timeliness of mental health care for the hardworking folks in our agricultural communities.”

Additional co-sponsors include Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). The bipartisan FARMERS FIRST Act also has growing support from more than ten agriculture-focused organizations.

“Farmers are facing uncertain times and need adequate services to deal with this mounting stress in the industry. The resources provided by Senators Baldwin, Ernst, Moran, and Heitkamp’s FARMERS FIRST Act provide tools farmers need to manage these difficulties, allowing them to connect with all the resources at their disposal. I thank the Senators for introducing this vital legislation,” said National Corn Growers Association Executive Vice President Jon Doggett.

“The continued slump in milk prices is creating both economic and emotional stress for dairy farmers, which is why we support the continuation of the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) and the FARMERS FIRST Act, sponsored by Senators Baldwin and Ernst. We hope to see it move forward as part of the 2018 Farm Bill,” said Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation.

“For those in rural areas seeking mental health services, they face two giant obstacles: availability and accessibility. In 55% of all American counties, most of which are rural, there is not a single psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) could help support agricultural workers and their families in rural communities by providing at-home resources for mental health services. As rural communities and economies struggle to come back from the Great Recession, many in the agriculture industry who have experienced little recovery are at higher risk of substance abuse and suicide. We applaud the bipartisan work of our rural health advocates in introducing legislation to provide a key resource for those at risk,” said Jessica Seigel, National Rural Health Association.

“Farmers and ranchers are among the hardest-working class of citizens. With net farm income plummeting more than 50 percent in the last six years, the job has become even tougher. The Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) is intended to help ranching families in tough times overcome their challenges. The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) thanks Senator Joni Ernst and Senator Tammy Baldwin for supporting U.S. producers. We look forward to working with Congress in the drafting of the upcoming Farm Bill to address the underlying causes contributing to declining farm income and to advance policies that strengthen the bottom lines of U.S. cattle producers,” said Kenny Graner, President, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.

“Last fall, we traveled across Kansas and Iowa to report on the suicide crisis on America’s farms. We are proud supporters of The FARMERS FIRST Act, introduced by Senator Baldwin and her co-sponsors, Senators Ernst, Heitkamp, and Moran. This bi-partisan effort will re-authorize and fund the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN), which will provide life-saving assistance to America’s farmers and farmworkers. We extend our gratitude to the farmers, family members, and advocates who—from fields, pickup trucks, and around kitchen tables—bravely shared their stories with us,” said Debbie Weingarten and Audra Mulkern, Female Farmer Project.

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Wrangler celebrates sustainable cotton farming on Earth Day

In the spirit of Earth Day, Wrangler jeans has released a report highlighting how much of an impact sustainable cotton farming has on the environment. Wrangler evaluated 45 scientific reports to conclude the practices of conservation tillage, cover crops and crop rotation result in the removal of three times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere as older farming methods.

“Wrangler believes that our supply chain does not begin with fabric or cotton. It begins with soil and the land itself,” said Roian Atwood, director of sustainability for Wrangler. “Preserving and enhancing the health of soil is critical and necessary to the preservation of America’s denim heritage and future generations of people who work the land. That’s why we’re committed to doubling our use of sustainably-farmed cotton over the next year.”

In the U.S., cotton is grown on approximately 12.5 million acres stretching from the Southeast to the Southwest. Cotton cultivation practices can disturb and degrade the soil with tillage, bare soil surfaces, chemical inputs, and continuous monoculture crop production. However, this emerging set of farming practices, used in combination, builds the soil’s capacity to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.

The report, “Seeding Soil’s Potential,” summarizes the findings of more than 45 scientific papers and reviews produced by academic, government and industry researchers. Wrangler’s soil health advisors that reviewed and validated the findings in the report include USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), The Nature Conservancy, and the Soil Health Institute.

“I’m grateful Wrangler has taken up this cause, because the potential to transform agricultural lands with soil health practices is tremendous,” said Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “If farmers adopt these practices globally, we’ll have much greater resiliency in our food and fiber production. We’ll also have cleaner water and air, and we can draw carbon out of the air to regenerate our soils for current and future generations.”

Last year, Wrangler introduced its soil health pilot program to bolster the supply of sustainable cotton, championing growers who are leading the way and encouraging wider adoption of responsible farming practices. Today, the program includes five cotton producers representing farms in Halls, Tennessee; Athens, Alabama; Albany, Georgia; Conway, North Carolina; and Big Spring, Texas.

“We’ve experienced the benefits of combining these three practices,” said Eugene Pugh, the program partner and cotton farmer in Tennessee. “It’s allowing us to decrease our inputs while maintaining, and even improving, yield. And at the same time, our soil is improving with each passing season. That feels really good.”

Tags: Clothing, Jeans, Farm News, Fashion
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FruitGuys grants take 13 small farms in 11 states to next level

In its sixth year of awarding small grants with big impacts to American farms and agricultural nonprofits, The FruitGuys Community Fund announced its largest class of grantees to date: 13 recipients of environmental sustainability grants totaling $47,534

After receiving a record 130 applications, the Fund’s volunteer review committee chose 20 finalists whose projects and values best aligned with its guidelines for sustainable farming practices. Thirteen of those finalists were awarded grants of up to $5,000 for projects such as solar power systems, beehives, beneficial insect habitats, growing season extensions, and unique composting systems. The grantees are located in California (2), Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin (2). Some of the farms are traditional family farms; others train aspiring female farmers, help settle refugees, and grow produce on city rooftops.

“We are excited to be able to fund more farms each year,” says Chris Mittelstaedt, The FruitGuys Community Fund Project Director. “We started this fund in 2012 because we believe that small, independent American farms are a core element of a healthy food system, a diverse economy, robust communities, and a strong democracy.”

The class of 2018 FruitGuys Community Fund grantees are:

  • Namu Farm/Choi and Daughters Produce, Winters, California. Their $3,794 grant will allow them to preserve and improve heritage varieties of Asian vegetable crops by funding a new hoop house, nursery benches, screens of multiple sizes, shade cloth, and tools for the hand-processing of seeds.
  • The Ohio City Farm by The Refugee Response, Cleveland, Ohio. This six-acre agricultural nonprofit serves newly arrived refugees. Their $2,780 grant will allow them to purchase two new walking tractor attachments.
  • Moon Dog Farms, Sante Fe, Texas. Their $5,000 grant will fund three caterpillar tunnel kits, shade cloths, and a silage tarp to extend the growing season, protect crops, and improve soil health. They will also host workshops on how this system can create protected microclimates for growing in the Texas Gulf Coast region.
  • Radical Roots Farm, Canterbury, Connecticut. Their $4,500 grant will allow them to develop a composting system using black soldier flies, which consume organic waste and can then be made into supplemental feed high in protein and fat for their livestock.
  • Root Mass Farm, Oley, Pennsylvania. Their $3,986 grant will allow them to build a high tunnel and plant 21 fig trees.
  • Fly Girl Farm, Pescadero, California. This four-acre farm gives aspiring female farmers the opportunity to experience running a small farm. Their $4,856 grant will fund a solar system to power their farm.
  • Hope Mountain Farm, Leavenworth, Washington. Their $5,000 grant will allow them to transition to no-till farming methods, thereby improving soil health and minimizing water runoff.
  • Cattail Organics, Athens, Wisconsin. They’ll use their $5,000 grant to create a beneficial insect habitat by implementing a unique approach to reducing soil disturbance.
  • The Roof Crop LLC, Chicago, Illinois. This urban farm grows produce atop 30,000 square feet of city rooftops. They’ll use their $1,950 grant to add three beehives to their flagship farm and to amplify their sustainability and educational practices.
  • Doce Lume Farm, Frederick, Maryland. They’ll use their $1,705 grant to build a low tunnel to extend their growing season, as well as establish a compost system to share with their Beginning Farmer Training Program network.
  • Canadian Valley Farms, Lexington, Oklahoma. Their $5,000 grant will be used to add disease-resistant apple varieties and blackberries to their farm, and to demonstrate that sustainable apple and blackberry production is a viable enterprise in their climate region.
  • 47 Daisies, Vassalboro, Maine. Their $2,500 grant will be used to plant an orchard of peach, pear, and plum trees, as well as native wildflowers to support pollinators, and to install bat and bluebird boxes for natural pest control.
  • Christensen’s Farm, Browntown, Wisconsin. They’ll use their $1,463 grant to increase their number of beehives to eight, one of which will be an observation hive for local 4-H, school, and community groups.

The FruitGuys Community Fund is a nonprofit, fiscally sponsored project of Community Initiatives whose goal is to support small farms’ efforts to promote greater environmental and economic health, community engagement, and advocacy that supports sustainable agriculture. These grants help farms enhance pollinator habitats, conserve water, increase soil health, extend growing seasons, and increase productivity.

Tags: Ag News, Farm News, Agriculture
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