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Veteran Advisor

Black swans and pink unicorns

Ok we gotta problem.


To much rain,to fast, at all the wrong times.


Black swan event numero uno!


Driving around in Iowa this week there is lots of unplanted corn and tons of unplanted beans. 


I hear the same thing in southern Minn. and Wisconsin. This morning it got down to 45 degrees here.


Really bad hay crop in the midwest so far Poor stand due to winter kill and not very much of what was intended to be planted has been. 


Black swan event number 2.


Prevented planting. 


This is gonna be huge to the livestock guy this year.  These prevented planting acres are gonna bite this guy in the butt.  Talking with folks this week it has become clear that the majority of these acres left to plant will NEVER have anything planted on them this year.  It used to be when the majority of farms had livestock you busted your butt to plant every acre to something every year. Even if it was wet because you knew you needed the feed.  Now all these acres that are being planted to buffer strips, cover crops, or prevent planting and other various and assundry programs take productive ground away from ruminants especially and just waste it.   how is it right that in a year when our cupboards are so thin that we have no flexibility to plant a grass crop that can be harvested for somekinda livestock feed?  I was at a meeting this week on prevented planting and they said you can plant a cover crop however it can not be harvested till avter Nov. 1.  It could be tilled or chemically killed before that but it cannot be harvested till after Nov. 1 as they do not want any economic benefit recieved by anyone from it.


Well At some point next winter when it's all snowballs all the time they are gonna wish that somebody woulda had the foresight to adjust these rules somewhat. 


Now I do not blame anyone for taking prevented planting. I fully understand the reasoning.  But this leads me to the pink unicorns.


Pink Unicorn #1

Larry Moe and Curly at USDA never did figure out that livestock can't eat an insurance check!


They think (and in reality it is most non livestock people) that becasue there has been dollars returned for an economic loss it somehow makes the grain, hay, fodder, available to the livestock guy automatically.


Well DUH!  Last year my purchased feed costs were 3 times the size of my insurance check. 3 TIMES.


How did insurance adequatly compensate me for my loss?  IT didn't. 


And now because there is so much emphasis placed on crop insurance and revenue insurance products there seems to be little understanding that we NEED the PHYSICAL.


Pink Unicorn # 2


Becasue you have dollars you have security.


THis is the biggest part of our problem. We have placed so much emphasis on our almighty dollar that we have forgotten that the dollar is only the paper barter system for physical goods. We really do not want dollars we want the products that we purchase with our dollars. WIthout the products the Dollars is useless.


Folks we are going to quickly runout of the product. (Thanks to the printing press we will not be running out of dollars.) And at that time no amount of dollars givin back to us in the form of insurance checks will make up for the removal of the product. 


This year will do one of two things


1. it willl finally rid us of the idea that monolithic agriculture based on enterprise accountings basic lie.


2. We are gonna run full steam ahead into the arms of a socialists mother State.


I bet on number 2.


BTW June is dairy month buy some god dairy stuff today cause the way it looks to me it is gonna be real hard to come by next year at this time.


Rant off.

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12 Replies
Honored Advisor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns

Many salient points there. Your rant brings to mind the evolutionary forces of "The Beak of the Finch".

The book I refer to accounted the decades- long study one family of scientists conducted in the Galapagos Islands, which revealed mich about how species change rapidly in available individuals in the genetic potential of the species . If it rains more than normal, seeds these birds consume grow too large for the ones with smaller beaks to crack...thus, those birds starve out, removing themselves from the gene pool.

The reasoning that money solves the lost crop problem is probably fine for the crop producer. Money will bridge you from a bad season to a better one, and each year is a new opportunity to plant and thrive. The livestock producer, though, is cursed in virtually every instance, with far longer leadtmes from startup to sale of product...I always figured on two years in hogs, sheep at least one from breeding a mature female. Cattle are at least as long as hogs, if not longer.

Even if you get paid something directly as a livestock producer for loss of your feed or forage, as you note, it would seldom get you over a protracted period of having to buy feed. Our livestock have traditionally served as the best way to add value to the plant material....

In this sense, the livestock producer is like a smaller-beaked finch. We can be quickly eradicated from the genetic mix by conditions beyond our control. Unlike the evolutionary forces of business models like vertical integration and overwhelming environmental regulatory pressure, which tend to weed out the smallest and least savvy producers first and over a period of decades, the swath opening by this blade is fast and furious.

If you want my honest opinion, I do not think this shortsightedness is intentional. Here we have EPA releasing information it collected without legal authority to anti- animal ag groups, as fast as it can.

Everyone is so outraged by the IRS harrassing the TEA Party. Why isn't the head of EPA hoisted on a pike, for disregarding the rules, not once, but twice? "Feedstuffs" revealed this week that NCBA is in a tizzy about two more states' producers being outted.

This is, pure and simple, a choice to facilitate targetted attacks on animal ag producers. Telling the groups to return the overly- revealing personal information, without making copies of it, is probably the biggest farce of all time.

Couple this with the advent of drone espionage, and a general lack of oversight of these devices, and you have a perfect storm of pressures that have nothing to do with whether or not you can afford feed anymore. Farmers with a choice will just say, " To hell with it!"

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns

I do not htink it is intentional either. It just shows that when Government gets it's grubby hands of contro l o0n something it can never anticipate all of the fallout of it.


years ago when they continually allowed for pmt. to farmers to offset low grain prices therby encouraging the likes of a smithfield foods to consolidate such a large number of hogs because of a cheap grain policy. they could never have invisioned the time when grain wopuld not be cheap. Or the economic sense of the chinese to buy that conglomerate instead of importing expensive grain to feed thier opwn hogs.

That is why Governement at it's best is horrible at its forcasting and at it's worst is inconsistent with the reality of the world as experience it.


BTW Kudos on the EPA stuff in your post.

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Re: Black swans and pink unicorns

Wet springs, droughts, boomer crops- they happen.


Individual concerns aside- believe me, I've been there in all of the above scenarios and more- the greater question is about poorly formed public policy regarding the timeline and size of the ethanol mandate without some mechanism for greater elasticity at the outer bound.


I know that the accelerating yield trendline had a nice smooth upward slope as presented to Congress but there is enough time now passed (and was an abundance of historical evidence at the time) to say with some certainty that it isn't going to play that way.


Not that I think those policies will be significantly amended at this point,  just like to point out that I've been right- for no other reason than my own smug satisfaction, I guess.


Corn ethanol had some modest benefits to offer but the legislation was very poorly constructed.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns

The way I see is that the american farmer is notorious for over producing whether it be livestock feed grains or whatever. For decade after decade corn farmers fill the bin nationwide, not because we needed it but becase there is virtually no interest in producing less. Even though less produces better prices for a shorter crop.


So the corn farmer looked for alternative markets which included for. foreign exports and other uses for our bounty produced. Ethanol being one of them. Now that ethanol cuts into the feed grain supply, the livestock men lobby to eliminate the ethanol subsidy thinking that there will be less feed grains used for ethanol production.


Corn is still tight and feeders do not want to compete with ethanol for bushels. The want feed to be the prominent use if not exclusively used for that. They forget about the eons we sat with corn surpluses and they were blessed with bargain basement feed costs. Feeders were not good customers when feed was below production costs. Now that corn producers have developed alternative markets, feeders want gov't to step in and limit ethanol production.


As far as I know we are not required to plant corn. Perhaps sugar or sugar beets or some other product to market to ethanol companies. If feeders want to limit our choices of markets, then perhaps we need to plant our acres to what they don't want. Other types of food and fiber products. Whatever they might be.


The one thing that feeders do have going for them is the proud and defiant grain producer. They have planted millions of acres year in and year out. Often time with the opportunity for profit severely limited. Why? because there is no pride in producing a substandard crop. Thus we are balls to the walls endevering to produce a gigantic harvest. Because that is what we do. We are the american farmer producing is what we do. It's ingrained in our very souls. And if we don't produce a tremendous crop, it's not our fault.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns

I have no control of the markets. The only that I can get a decent , or better slice of the pie is to produce as much as I can

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Senior Contributor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns/ And Yellow Corn in Iowa

Well, us Northern Iowa guys are trying to get our planting done, but this year is as bad or worst than 1993 was. In 1993, the Iowa total corn yield was only 83bu/acre. In 1993, our soils stayed wet for weeks at a time and the corn we did get planted stayed that very nice Yellow color that corn gets when there is way to much moisture, and it is not the yellow due to the corn plant running out of nitrogen. The shortage of nitrogen shows up as that again yellow color, but it is limited to the middle of the corn leaf. You can take 80bu off the yield for yellow corn. In 1993, the CBOT thought rain=grain and you can never have enough rain. Well, in 1993 when the combines started to run and the yields were coming in below 100bu/acre, the CBOT finially got the idea that excess moisture can be as worst as drought in regard to corn yields. It is starting to look like 1993 all over again here in North-Central Iowa, vast tracts of unplanted ground, and the corn that did get planted has that nice yellow color of excess moisture. 2013 will probably be like 1993 and the CBOT will not take notice of the vastly lower corn yields coming out of Iowa till this fall when the combines start to run and the yield monitors stay pegged below 100bu/acre. We should probably try and look up the historical CBOT corn prices in 1993 for a possible clue as to what corn prices will due this year in the fall.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns/ And Yellow Corn in Iowa

In 1993 the price of corn crest around the 4th of July, the same time the Mississippi river crested in St Louis Missouri.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns/ And Yellow Corn in Iowa

My farm is 15 miles from the mouth of the Missouri where it enters the Mississippi. The rivers crested at my farm on August 1 and St Louis August 2. We are on high ground and had the last piece of corn left in the entire Mo-Miss valley. We harvested 150 bu an acre from that field and received no more from that field than others got in govt disaster payments and had to harvest, dry and haul to market. I am not complaining. We considered fortunate. We are in serious trouble right now, mostly because it has been too wet to plant an y beans, although is looks , with several days of good weather, to escape a river problem. Beans can still be planted up to 5th of july

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Black swans and pink unicorns

Krafty says"

Corn is still tight and feeders do not want to compete with ethanol for bushels. The want feed to be the prominent use if not exclusively used for that. They forget about the eons we sat with corn surpluses and they were blessed with bargain basement feed costs. Feeders were not good customers when feed was below production costs. Now that corn producers have developed alternative markets, feeders want gov't to step in and limit ethanol production."




Feeders were not very good customers??????????


WTH! How many hogs were you feeding in the 80"s So you were one of the scum of the earth kinda feeders then weren't ya????? 


Next I'll compete with E any day of the week if theyare actually financially on equal footing same economic forces that effect me should also effect them.


Sometimes I think you forget what helped pay your way.

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