November 21, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 421
November 17, 2016 | Tech Talk | Charlie Trauger | Views: 425

Should We Fear Robots and Artificial Intelligence?

Charlie muses on the world of Artificial Intelligence and what it will mean for agriculture and the world

Should We Fear Robots and Artificial Intelligence?

This week I caught the latest Star Wars release on TV and was reminded from the first movie out in ’78, that robots like R2D2, C3PO and the new guy, BB-8 would be cool to have. The closest thing I have now is Siri and Cortana as they are at least called ‘bots’. I do use them both quite a bit to bark in appointments and reminders. It’s almost like the old days when we had assistants that would help schedule our day and keep us on time and tasks, but the ‘bots’ only recognize a few words, and then call up an agent to do the task. They don’t really understand us like our assistants did (in some ways that might not be bad). But, things are changing in the world of artificial intelligence.

You know things are progressing quickly in the agricultural arena as Case-IH recently unveiled their self-driving tractor at the Farm Progress Show. They are billed as “The Terminators of the agricultural world” by Luke Dormehl in this article on Digital Trends. The front even looks a bit mean and menacing to me. 

In other areas outside of ag, Facebook for instance has spent a lot of money on developing “bots” with over 33,000 currently that allow payments on messenger, help companies with the automation of back-office conversations, all eliminating jobs. With 6% of jobs possibly being eliminated in the next 5 years projected, change is coming per this article on CNBC recently.

We already have automatic palletizers and other machines that allow us to find something less strenuous and more strategic for our employees. But the new bot technology could end up replacing customer service, trucking and potentially other areas. Plus, it is hitting Wall Street as well with projections that there will be anywhere from 20 to 50% less data analysts needed in the future. It makes me wonder if the picture below will be what all of our businesses will look like in the future.


Guess we all should start learning how to write code, but then I am sure someone will create a bot for that also. Just speak into the mic and out pops a software application. I hope this does not end with a computer named ‘Hal’. I am not really worried, after all when I was a bond trader in the 80’s working at a bank, we all thought ATM’s would replace tellers. I see more bricks and mortar in the banking world than ever.

This new technology could end up being good for those of us living and working in rural America. It is hard to get and keep young people in smaller communities, but then I doubt robots will pay taxes and contribute to society by volunteering, etc. Or perhaps they will. Something worth keeping an eye on. 

November 17, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 136

Grains In Positive Territory Overnight

Crude Oil up in Morning Trade

Grains were in positive territory overnight as they continue to seesaw back and forth around long-term prices of the past 3 months. In outside markets, the US dollar was finally weaker after hitting a 13-year high yesterday and crude oil was up in morning trade.


USDA reported a 106,200 MT of corn were sold to unknown destinations.


EU farmers are expected to sow 24.3 million hectares of soft wheat for next year's harvest, little changed from 24.2 million in 2016, consultancy Strategie Grains said on Thursday. For the 2016 crop, they shaved the corn estimate from 59.8 MMT to 59.6, and the wheat crop estimate from 135.9 to 135.7.

South Korea's largest animal feed maker Nonghyup Feed Inc. (NOFI) purchased 68,000 tonnes of yellow corn to be sourced from optional origins

Japan bought 136,000 MT of which 101,000 MT was sourced from US origins and the rest from Canada.



                                       Actual      Expected

Corn                                 1,661      900-1,200

Soybeans                          1,418   1,200-1,500

Wheat                                 598         400-600


Weekly USDA export sales were above expectations for corn and at the high end of expectations for soybeans and wheat.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

November 16, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 387
November 16, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 127

US Dollar Index Continues to Hold on to 13-Month Highs

Grains continue their move into positive territory

Overnight saw a continuation of Tuesday’s move with grains in positive territory going into the break. Crude oil, after gaining $2.50 a barrel on Tuesday turned lower this morning as did equity futures. The USD index continues to hold on to 13-month highs.


USDA reported a 165,000 MT of soybeans were sold to China.


On Monday NOPA soy crush numbers came in much bigger than expected with a monthly October crush of 164.6 MB, well above the average analyst estimate of 160.5 MB. However, bean oil stocks were also slightly higher at 1.343 billion pounds versus expectations of 1.323 billion.


In overnight news, Algeria bought 40,000 MT of optional-origin wheat. A feed group from Taiwan bought 65,000 MT of corn, thought likely to be sourced from the US.


Export values for corn held up well this week as Argentina and Europe corn prices strengthen relative to US values. However, soybean prices in Brazil and Argentina turned sharply lower relative to US values this week which could hamper US competitiveness.



Oil prices shed more than one percent on Wednesday, returning some of the gains made in one of the year's biggest rallies a day earlier, after weekly U.S. crude stocks rose beyond expectations and a strong dollar weighed on commodities. Weekly U.S. crude oil stocks surged by 3.6 million barrels last week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) industry group said, exceeding analyst expectations of a 1.5-million-barrel rise. Official EIA data is to be released at 9:30 am CDT and is expected to show a 1.48 million barrel build.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

November 15, 2016 | Kevin McNew | Views: 172
November 15, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 134

Grains Posted Modest Gains in Overnight Session

US Dollar in Positive Territory

Grains posted modest gains overnight while crude oil was sharply higher. The US Dollar was in positive territory holding on to 13-month highs.


USDA announced two soybean sales this morning totaling 247,500 MT.


On Monday USDA pegged the corn and soybean harvest nearly complete with 94% and 97% harvested, respectively. Winter wheat ratings inched higher hitting 59% good-to-excellent versus 58% last week and 52% last year.


Curbs on speculation in Chinese markets continued to take their toll as Chinese soybean prices fell 4.4% overnight after falling 5% on Monday. Chinese investors renewed their push into commodity futures this month and increased their bets shortly after Republican Donald Trump's shocking U.S. presidential win on Nov. 8 amid a sell-off in global markets.


Japan was in the market to buy wheat in a usual tender that is generally done 3 times a month. Later this morning NOPA will release its October crush figures with analysts looking for 160.5 MB. Estimates range from 18.3 to 163.1. The report will be released at 11 am CDT.

In South America, moisture continues to improve for N. Brazil over the next 2 weeks while it tends to drier conditions in C. Brazil. Rains should be limited next 10 days in wet SW 1/4 of Arg./far S. Brazil, but wetter trends in 11-15 day. Argentina corn/soy seeding to remain slow to recover in SW but move along well elsewhere.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

November 14, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 171
November 14, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 75

US Dollar Shoots Higher in the Overnight Session

Grains were down in the overnight

Grains were down in the overnight session while the US Dollar shot sharply higher. Crude oil was also off in the night trade.


USDA this morning announced 175,000 MT of milo to China, 324,000 MT of soybeans to China and 132,000 MT of soybeans to unknown destinations.


Chinese soybean futures tumbled 5% on Monday, extending a decline that started in evening trade on Friday on talk of government measures to crack down on speculation. China has implemented a series of fee hikes in recent months to crack down on speculative trading it suspects is behind a surge in everything from coal to rubber, which helped drive capital out of the commodities market. Talk that the government could take more measures to curb speculation led institutional investors to pull out of the market, sparking a sell-off in soybean, soymeal and rapemeal futures.


Overnight, the Korea Feed Association (KFA) purchased about 63,000 MT of corn which can be sourced from optional origins in a tender which closed on Thursday.  Also, Tunisia bought 100,000 MT of soft white wheat, also optional origin.

In South American weather, weekend rains were beneficial to N.Brazil with ongoing rains expected through the next 2 weeks. Central Brazil has some noted dryness in key corn/soy regions.  Showers ease this week in the rain drenched Argentina but 11-15 day rain chances return & limit drying.


Oil was lower to start the week hitting its lowest mark in over 3 months, but seemed to find support from China's daily crude oil production in October falling to the lowest in more than seven years. Chinese producers remain reluctant to drill new wells amid tepid oil prices and as output drops from aging wells.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

November 11, 2016 | Grain Hedge Insights | Kevin McNew | Views: 63

Weekly Cash Comments

Weekly Cash Commentary for week ending 11/11/2016

National corn and soybean basis moved higher across the board this week. This is the first time we have seen unanimous movement higher since the end of August.  


On average, corn moved higher by 1 1/2 cents, the first move in either direction in three weeks. Corn along the river gained momentum from last week gaining 8 cents; ethanol plants moved slightly higher by 1 1/4 cents from last week. Some ethanol plants see Trump’s refinery policies as a wildcard for them and are awaiting further news.  


Soybeans saw strong movement higher gaining an average of 3 cents per bushel. Crush facilities gained 5 1/4 cents, partly supported by Palm Oil news this week. Soy river facilities continued to be the strongest movers this week up 10 1/2 cents.


The risk of trading futures, hedging, and speculating can be substantial. Grain Hedge is a Branch of Foremost Trading LLC (NFA ID: 0307930)

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