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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ag Question: Why are the markets going down?



There are so many factors why the market has gone down since the beginning of 2015.  

March Corn Futures (CH15) have gone down 25 cents
December Corn Futures (CZ15) have gone down 19 cents
March Bean Futures (SH15) have gone down 46 cents
November Bean Futures (SX15) have gone down 48 cents

That is the total loss within 30 days in the futures markets.  To keep things simple for this post, because I don’t want to lose you before I am done explaining myself, let’s start off with the futures month I posted.  March corn and bean futures are the current CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) months we are trading.  We are using these future prices to set cash grain prices for the local delivery of grain elevators and processors.  The futures minus the basis level equals the cash price.  The basis level is determined by location and demand for the commodity.  Nearby basis levels are usually higher than basis levels six months away. Processors and elevators will "push" for nearby delivery.  Most elevators are still full from harvest in January, February time frame.  They also know farmers have bills to pay, so space is made for early delivery from the bins in the country.

What are the factors the markets are going down?
Farm Selling: Farmer selling is slow through the corn belt.  The current cash prices are not really catching the farmer's attention.  Because of  the lack of farmer selling, the grain will sit in the bins until they decide what cash price is needed.

Outside Markets: Stay in your seat. Don't go look out the window. The outside markets I am referring to are the Dollar, Crude Oil, Dow.  There is sometimes a correlation of the grain markets to the outside markets, one goes up, the other goes down, but when you throw the funds into the mix, all past rules do not apply.

USDA Report: The monthly USDA can always have a big impact on the trading day, this month, it has just impacted the markets negatively.

South America:  After the first of the year, South America crop enters the system.  The CME and other analysts have been watching the progress of their crop and weather conditions all  year long. This year, South America has had favorable weather. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Angel Food Cupcakes with Grandma Lois Caramel Frosting


We had a great family day last weekend.  Stayed home all day Saturday, and if you know us, you know that is very unusual.


We had a few new kitchen toys from Christmas to try out. The Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker.  There are so many different recipes I want to try.  I wanted to go all out with a Chocolate Peanut Butter recipe. We started out with vanilla.  It was delicious, and so creamy.  This did not last long! It was fun to make, and everyone helped. Kids thought it was fun to see the ice cream grow in the mixer! See a problem with this picture? One beater and three kids :)


So when we were making the ice cream, Dave asked what are we going to do with the 8 egg whites that we had leftover from the ice cream recipe.  I found an Angel Food Cupcake recipe online.  It seemed easier than making an angel food cake.  You can find the recipe here. I didn't have cake flour, so I am sure the cupcakes would have came out of the oven a little taller. She also suggested not using paper cupcake linings and spraying the pan very well.  I was nervous, but they came out just fine!



When we discussed what we would make with the left over egg whites, we talked about how Dave's grandma Lois Kellner would always make her angel food cakes from scratch. (Then we knew noodles were coming soon afterwards.)  Grandma Lois always used her caramel frosting (not icing) recipe. She made it very runny, so it went over the cake easily and didn't weigh it down.  It's all delicious, and brought back great memories of her special baking.


Grandma Lois' Caramel Frosting

2 tsp.       Margarine (or butter) 
2/3 cup    Brown Sugar
1/3 cup    Evaporated Milk
pinch salt

Bring to a boil, constantly stirring. Remove pan from heat, add  1 tsp vanilla. 
Stir in enough powdered sugar to make spreadable. Immediately pour over cupcakes

PRINT RECIPE HERE

Grandma Lois, we know you always put the extra frosting on saltine crackers, but we licked the pan clean. It was delicious!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Student of the Month

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Christmas in the County 2014: Gift Reveal

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!  
We had a great Christmas in Indiana!

 
This year I also participated in the Christmas in the Country 2014 exchange. We were matched with another ag blogger,  did some secret research by browsing their blog,  and prepared a special gift package for them!

I was very excited when i opened my box of all these goodies! Thank you to Mary of Mackinson Dairy.  The kids claimed the stocking hats, the camo one is perfect for Ryan! Mason loves the cows! Chocolate Bacon, is that for real!?!

Look at all of these goodies!
 Mason didn't want to share, saying "My cookies!"
Macie and I are so excited about these steer and pig cookie cutters!


These soaps smell so good!!
Elizabeth of Circle the Wagons from Missouri received a package from me, head over to her site to see what she received! 

Thank you to all of the Christmas in the Country hosts to make it possible!

Erin of Diaries from the Dirt Road 
Robyn of The Ranch Wife Chronicles
Laurie of Country Linked
Jamie of This Uncharted Rhoade

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Ag Question: What are the USDA Markets?



What are the USDA markets? How do they come up with these numbers?

It is very hard to describe into one post everything that goes into the USDA reports. The Agricultural Marketing Service, AMA, has been conducting reports for over 90 years.   It is a very comprehensive, monthly report.  Reports come in from all over the United States and international locations from USDA officials. 

Reports include markets, prices, volume, and bushels.  Commodities included in the report are corn, beans, wheat, tobacco, cotton, fruits, for example. Certain fields are earmarked to be a representative field for the year.  No one outside the Washington, D.C. office is to know about the final numbers of the report until it is released to the public.  There are many USDA employees who work all night compiling the numbers into the report.  Until a few years ago, the report was released in the morning. Now it is released in the afternoon. 


A few years ago, actually it was four years ago, I traveled to Washington, DC with a group of ag professionals.  We were invited to watch the August 2010 USDA report being presented to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. 



 
 Picture opp with Agriculture Secretary Vilsack after the USDA Report Briefing August 2010 
(note to self: Don't stand by the tall guys)

Before we were led into the room for the presentation of the report, we were briefed in a separate conference room.  They explained us the procedure, gave us a USDA pass, and we left all forms of communication in the conference room.  All cell phones, tablets, etc were left in the middle of the table.  Then we toured a media room.  It wasn't time for the report to go public yet, but some had the numbers in front of them, entering the information into a computer.  It is entered into a decrypted data system, and that information is not released electronically until the published time.

Many people play a part of the report, and it is a very big process.  They also described the history of the report. Before computers, the report was shared via telephone.  Those reporting from DC were in a media room, standing in the middle. At the time of the report being released, they were allowed to go to the perimeter of the room and use the telephones. The USDA employees who gather the information for the report are not allowed to leave the designated areas of the USDA building until the report is released.  That means some work all night long.

I realize there is so much that goes into preparing each monthly USDA report. The results that come from these reports impact the grain markets because if the report numbers are not within private analyst estimates, it is impacted immediately.  Grain markets can go limit up or limit down if there is a big change in the USDA markets.  It doesn't happen every report, but it is possible.