Planning for the New Year

February 2016

 Hello to all our customers and friends,

          It really got cold the third week of January, but it is that time of year.  As long as it only lasts a couple of days and then gets into the upper 30s or lower 40s, it is bearable.  So far moisture has been in the form of rain instead of snow.  While snow may be good for winter wheat it is not pleasant for calving season, which is upon us now.  

            The grain markets are predictably sideways.  They are up a few days and then down a few days with no meaningful movement.  The grain report of January 12 moved the corn market up 8 cents a bushel and soy beans moved 18 cents a bushel; both grains have moved that far in a single day on their own without any market news.  Wheat is the same story moving about 12 cents a bu since the report.  The same can be said for the livestock markets.  Feeder cattle are up sometimes the limit of $4.50 per hundred weight one day and then down half that much the next two days for a net zero change.  If you are selling on an up day, you are lucky, but if selling on a down day, that is just too bad.  In general the cow herd is still profitable for most producers though the profit is about half of what it was last year.  The overall agricultural industry at this time gives the economist plenty of gloom and doom to write about.  

           Last May I wrote about the plastic pollution that kills cattle when they ingest grocery bags.  As I was driving back to Beloit this weekend, it was obvious there is a problem in this country with plastic and aluminum pollution.  At this time of year every scrap of trash shows up for lack of cover in corn fields, bean fields, wheat fields and pastures.  Styrofoam cups, plastic water bottles, beer bottles, aluminum cans, plastic grocery bags and trash bags are in fences, trees, ditches, creeks and streams.  When you stop and look it is quite disgusting.  The farther east you go towards more populated areas of the state, the worse it seems to be.  While this stands to reason, one must also realize we are on high ground and water runs downhill.  In December as I was walking a timber area in a flood plain, I could not believe the amount of junk caught up in the tall grass of the conservation reserve fields.  This trash comes in on flood waters and continues down river.  When you read about the ocean “gyres” or floating patches of plastic, one in particular is larger than the state of Texas.  There are five main gyres which are areas where the ocean currents concentrate this floating material.  Some of it breaks down to small pieces, but most never goes away.  We really need to try to recycle this material before we are drowning in global plastic dumps.  Until next month, Myron