Chicago Wheat Futures: Financial Tsunami of 2008

October/November 2008 | Departments |

The uproar over the soft red winter wheat cash basis has grown increasingly louder. Farmers watched Chicago July 08 wheat futures soar to $11 this spring, but saw local bids lag by up to $2/bushel and their anger grew. Heads should roll!

Cincinnati is a good market to study. The Cincinnati market can reflect barge export values, regional mills, and feed demand from the Southeast. In July 2007 that basis was -50 to -60 but weakened further by late summer. Elevators and terminals remembered...

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Cash-forward Contracting, Financing Strategies to Headline NGFA Country Elevator/Feed Industry Confe

October/November 2008 | Special Report | Diana Klemme

A major half-day session focusing on cash-forward grain contracting and financing strategies for 2009 will headline the program at the National Grain and Feed Association’s (NGFA) 37th annual Country Elevator and 12th annual Feed Industry Conference to be conducted Dec. 7-9 in St. Louis, MO.

More than 600 industry members traditionally attend the day-and-a-half conference and trade show at the Marriott Renaissance Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis. The major trade show, which will occur...

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It’s Not Your Father’s Co-op

October/November 2008 | Cover Story | By Gerry Whitty

Change is all around us and presents many challenges.

However, if you anticipate and manage for the inevitability that is change, it makes it much easier to achieve short-term success and long-term survival.

Being nimble in managing both your risk and your growth hasn’t always been considered a long-suited skill for cooperatives. Oftentimes, limitations due to cumbersome management structures or rigid bylaws have traditionally made cooperatives less likely to pursue an aggressive stance...

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Producing Energy Efficiently

October/November 2008 | Feature | By Elise Schafer

To an untrained eye all ethanol plants look identical. They’re usually surrounded by corn fields and all have storage vessels, grain receiving equipment and boilers that are nearly indistinguishable from one facility to the next. However, all plants are not created equal. Some operate far more efficiently than others.

The EPA presented East Kansas Agri-Energy (EKAE), located in Garnett, KS, and POET’s Ashton, IA facility with the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Award for...

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International Feed Expo and International Poultry Expo is Just Around the Corner

October/November 2008 | Feature | Diana Klemme

The 2009 IFE promises to be even bigger and better than before. It will once again be co-located with the International Poultry Expo and, for the third year, the trade show will be included in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Buyer Program.

IFE is where the feed industry meets to network, learn and see the latest in new technology. IFE offers an unprecedented opportunity to access a dynamic purchasing audience, key decision makers and international customers from all...

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Sure, change can be good but I don’t have to like it, right?

August/September 2008 | Editors Note |

Sure, change can be good but I don’t have to like it, right?

Change is all around me and I’ll be the first to admit, it drives me crazy sometimes. As a parent of two teenagers and a pre-teen who is convinced she’s ready to live on her own, changes are dramatic. One moment they hang on your every word like you’re some wise mystic, a proverbial stacked-trait soybean with tons of value. Now, it seems my end-user audience finds my valid driver’s license as the only “value added” component of...

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Measurement and Information: The Currency of Grain Quality

August/September 2008 | Special Report | Gerry Whitty

Anyone who doesn't buy into the fact that we operate in a truly global marketplace is only fooling themselves.

That point was clearly reinforced as I sat down for the opening luncheon at the 2008 International Grain Quality and Technology Congress. Joining me at the table were two Argentine researchers, a South African grain industry representative, our keynote speaker representing a Dutch-based financial giant that is a major player in U.S. agribusiness, and all of this, taking place in...

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Maximizing Track Efficiencies

August/September 2008 | Special Report | By Scott Brace

It’s been nearly 200 years since the railroad boom began to change the landscape of North America. Although many of the basic track components are still the same — ties, rail, spikes, plates and frogs — how they come together has changed quite dramatically, particularly in the past 10 years.

The track on which railroads and connecting industries operate is being reconfigured, rehabilitated and expanded to accommodate not only the growing volume of trains but also longer and heavier trains...

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Keeping it Clean

August/September 2008 | Special Report | Elise Schafer

It is often said that grain quality can never improve after it's been harvested. No matter how well an elevator dries their grain, monitors its bin temperature, manages moisture and controls pests, not much can be done to bring the quality up a notch once it's taken from the plant. For the most part, this notion holds true with the exception of one measure: grain cleaning. Taking this step right after harvesting can get the whole process off to a smooth start. While grain cleaning doesn't...

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The Times They Are A-Changing’

August/September 2008 | Departments | By Diana Klemme

“Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
For the times they are a-changin’”
Excerpt: 1964 – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan certainly wasn’t thinking about the grain industry when he wrote “The Times They Are A-Changing” but the lyrics are surprisingly relevant in 2008. The financial sector is in turmoil, inflation is the highest in over a quarter century, record commodity prices...

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Using Break-even Analysis in Business Decisions

August/September 2008 | Departments | Dr. John Foltz & Dr. Christine Wilson

Do you have a good understanding of how profitable different products or services might be? Do you know how much product must be sold to cover costs or what happens if costs or prices change? These are important considerations in today’s feed and grain business. Understanding break-even points and break-even analysis can be important to making solid business decisions. You want to be sure you can sell enough product or service to make a profit. In this month’s column, we focus on...

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Fractionation: An Answer to the Food vs. Fuel Debate

August/September 2008 | Feature | Elise Schafer

As the economy continues to decline and financial experts say we're headed into a recession, American families struggle to put both food on the table and gas in the tank. 2008 saw a 36% increase in milk prices compared to 2007, and the national average price for a gallon of unleaded gas peaked at $4.11 in July. These circumstances have some people asking "Do I feed my kids, or my car?"

Although research released by the American Farm Bureau Federation says that the climb in food costs are...

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Quality from the Ground Up

June/July 2008 | Special Report | Gerry Whitty

Depending on whom you ask, most people will say that grain quality reaches its peak at harvest.

Indeed, once it leaves the farm, the primary driver of grain quality evolves from its initial function of producing a quality crop to one of grain quality preservation.

While the role played by elevator operators and those who handle grain as it enters the marketing channel is vital to overall grain quality, the upfront work done by grain producers themselves has added a much-needed boost to...

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Delivering on the Promise

June/July 2008 | Special Report | Gerry Whitty

The United States remains the leading provider of high-quality grains to the global marketplace; however, can we be expected to maintain that position forever? FEED & GRAIN looks at how the industry is positioned and the factors which impact our place in the grain quality equation.

What is Quality?

Quality means many things to many people. To some it's a style of management that improves your business via TQM. Others use it as a way to wish someone well, without really meaning it;-

Quality Practices that Pay

June/July 2008 | Special Report | Elise Schafer

Don't risk premiums by letting moisture, mold, pests or undesirable temperature compromise grain quality. Using appropriate drying, aerating and inspecting practices help protect and preserve the value of your grain.

Guarding grain quality is the mission of thousands of grain elevators and farms across America. The guardians of grain quality dedicate their lives to monitoring the commodity at every step in its lifecycle from harvest to feed trough, and it's not always an easy job....

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