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Market Analysis: Roach, Martin, Pfitzenmaier, Robinson

posted on June 8, 2012

Market Analysis: Roach, Martin, Pfitzenmaier, Robinson

Borg: Joining me now are some of the people who knew Mark best…
Sue Martin was among the first women in her field and joined Market to Market in 1989. John Roach appeared on the very first edition of Market to Market in 1975. He is our senior market analyst. Tomm Pfitzenmaier first partnered with Chet Randolph in their brokerage firm before buying him out when Chet retired. Tomm began his tenure in 1984, wasn't it?

Pfitzenmaier: Yes.

Borg: And Virgil Robinson is a Market analyst with Pioneer Hi-Bred and first appeared on the program in 1976.

Borg: ---with Chet Randolph in their brokerage firm before buying him out when Chet retired. Tomm began his tenure in 1984, wasn't it? Welcome, thanks for coming..

Robinson: Thank you Dean. Nice to be with you and the group.

Borg: John to you. You are our senior analyst and I saw you chuckling. You have worked with Mark, been on Market to Market longest of all of us here. What about Mark?

Roach: I actually knew Mark before he came on Market to Market. I knew Mark back when he was working at Success Farming magazine and at WHO even before that a little bit. He and I worked on a market call and - the think about Mark that impressed me most over the years was his ability to remember everybody. It was interesting when he and I were on a lot of programs together and someone would come up and introduce themselves and the first thing he would ask is well, where are you from? And he would find out their town and he would know at least one person in that town, if not more, and pretty soon they would have a direct connection. He was linked in before LinkedIn and his memory for their names and specific things about people. He was the kind of guy that everybody became a friend very quickly and felt like they knew him even when maybe they only met him once or twice.

Pfitzenmaier: I knew him a little bit before we started doing the show. When Chet had sort of backed off and Mark was taking over I said to the producer what is this going to be like doing Market to Market with Mark? Because Chet and I were partners and Chet knew what I knew and knew what I didn't know. So, he didn't - no surprises. I wasn't sure about that with Mark and the producer said well, it is going to be a little like doing Market to Market with Jonathan Winters. I was like oh, boy. Here we go. So, about the second time I was on with him, he asked me a question and I look over and he is doing this in his chair. So, I am trying to seriously answer.

Borg: Did break you up or what?

Pfitzenmaier: Trying to seriously answer a question wondering what in the world is going on over in that chair. Well, when he sat down he had turned off his little sending unit and he was trying to turn it back on without actually reaching back there to do it. So, it was - Mark was full of surprises like that all the time.

Martin: You know Tomm, I remember a time- Well, it was the last Farm Progress show in the Amana Colonies when it had poured and poured and poured rain and everything was just pure mud, and you and Mark came in that little Mini Cooper of his and I didn't understand how in the world you guys got in and back out of those parking lots. It had to be the weight in that little car because I had a jeep and I was like a foot and a half deep in the mud and was stuck. And they got out.

Pfitzenmaier: Well, he owned a bit four wheel drive vehicle. He came to pick me up that day in the Mini Cooper and I was like it is raining. It is pouring. What do we do? Oh, we will be fine. So, we get in the parking lot of course then we can't get out. So, we conned somebody in to hooking him up to some kind of an SUV thing and it was like a parade. He is hollering and yelling and introducing me as we are being drug out of the parking lot that day.

Borg: Virgil.

Robinson: Speaking of vehicles, any of you have a road trip with Mark? Very similar to Animal House and of course I prepared nothing to say because we had a three hour drive to Chicago and it started of course with his story telling, entertainment, and then shortly there after he broke into a medley of Hank Williams songs. Topped only by his original version of the cowboy song and yodeling the likes of which you won’t hear Nashville. Needless to say that three hours flew by. What a character.

Borg: His father-in-law gave a little remembrance at the visitation for Mark this past week and one thing that impressed me and stuck in my mind was that the first time he met Mark. He saw the pick-up truck with his daughter. He knew they were coming from the University of Arizona out to the residence and the farm. And he said there is a beat-up pick-up truck coming down there and I was hoping that this would be the guy that she said she was bringing home to meet us because he must have good values. He is not driving some expensive car. It is a beat-up pick-up truck. But he said Mark got out of the truck then and he was wearing bib overalls and he said we down here in Arizona don't wear bib overalls. We wear jeans, of course, but not bib overalls.

Martin: You know, I think Mark had a gift that, one we all know he was so witty, but he never seemed to talk about himself. He always was asking everyone else about themselves or questions to draw them out. He never really talked about himself.

Borg: Have any of you ever been down on his farm?

Together: Oh yes.

Borg: What about it?

Roach: It's exactly what you would expect. A farm with somebody who is really, really busy and with challenges for anything that has an engine on it, is a challenge. But it is a beautiful farm home and Eden just keeps it just really nice and it is a beautiful spot. Beautiful spot in the country.

Borg: And family is first with him.

Martin: Exactly. Family and they hosted picnics and it was always fun and laughter. Lots of humor, light-heartedness and you know you cure a lot of ills with humor.

Robinson: Dean, excuse me, in the context of character. I was just thinking I gave you a version of Mark on a road trip, but there are other definitions of character that he defined and profiled pretty nicely: trustworthy, respected, responsibility, fairness, citizenship, and caring. And as I recall, this has been a long time ago, I believe those are the six pillars of elite character-isms and he had them all.

Borg: And add to that work ethic. Maybe that was one of those that you just mentioned but work ethic unrivalled.

Martin: Oh, I think the one thing I noticed was, and I always kind of worried about him, was that he would be leaving a meeting really late and driving maybe four or five hours to get home in a snow storm to not be there very long and maybe turn around and drive maybe to Kansas City or somewhere to pick up a flight. He just had that pace and that is a tough pace.

Borg: This past week, in fact it was - Mark passed away on Sunday night and I was out on another assignment on Monday. And I was speaking with a farmer near Monticello, Iowa and hadn't mentioned Mark. Didn't say a think about it because I was there on different business. But the first thing this man said to me was it is a tough day and I immediately thought he must mean Mark. So, I said Mark Pearson? He said yes. And there were tears, I mean this was a middle aged farmer and there were huge tears running down his face and they never stopped. All the time I was there for ten minutes, there were still tears rolling down his face. And he said he didn't know who I was, and I only saw him maybe twice in person. But he talked to me every day. And that was his radio program, of course, on WHO Radio and the connection nationwide with Market to Market. And I was struck by the line in what we just heard here. And I reported walking around with Mark at the state fair was like walking around with Elvis. Everybody knew him.

Martin: That's right.

Roach: That's exactly right.

Borg: Sue, you looked a little uncomfortable there when that little clip where Mark was demonstrating the bobble head. You looked like you were a little out of your element. Didn't know what was going to come next out of Mark's mouth.

Martin: Well, you know one you're up there trying to help promote this and when he handed me a bobble head I didn't realize they were as heavy as they were. And I just said gosh, these are heavy and he turned around and he looked at me like what? Are you talking about my weight? And all of the sudden I thought oh, my gosh. I didn't mean to say that. And he right away takes off with that wit and humor and away he goes and then you know went on in to that while he was talking with his best side, the back side of his bobble head.

Robinson: That was his cue.

Martin: Yes.

Robinson: His Las Vegas entertainment style.

Martin: Oh, he was just - Yeah, he was like that.

Roach: I don't know if I have ever seen him more excited about something than that bobble head. Mark was on the week following Sue and he was sick. He really was very sick. But yet, you know when the camera turned on he put on the game face and he played with that bobble head and it was amazing how much fun he had with that.

Pfitzenmaier: You know something I don't think a lot of us realize probably is what a good question asker he was. Because he asked it from a perspective of knowledge, but he never - I never felt like he was trying to lead me into what he thought the conclusion should be. And there is quite an art to that. You know and a lot of people interview you and you think they are trying to pull something out of you. He was just wanting to know what you thought and I kind of admired that.

Borg: There is art to being a journalist and also being an advocate. Mark was an advocate for agriculture. We have all acknowledged that. But also he told both the good and the bad of agriculture and he was fair. He was a journalist.

Robinson: That fairness is one of those six pillars of character and that is preciously right. If there were concerns or if there were news of a contrary nature that producers needed to know whether they agreed or disagreed he would at least acknowledge that.

Borg: How did you see Mark mature over the years in the time that you worked with him, all of you, but John, you worked the longest. Did he mature in his, you said he was a good question asker with perspective, but did he mature in his role?

Roach: I think he started out very mature for a young person. I mean I don't know that I really saw a change over time in maturity. Mark from the git-go could have a very intellectual conversation about politics or markets or Unibonds or corporate bonds or equity. I mean you name the subject and Mark was very well versed in that subject and could carry on quite a conversation. And so that is something that has been with him really for a long, long time. And you notice that he won his Oscar at really a very young age.

Borg: After only two or three years in farm broadcasting and that's - I had noticed that same thing. Being the good Navy Man that he was, Mark would say we would be derelict in our duty if we didn't at least talk a "little" about the commodity markets.  And this week, the trade factored the absence of any new stimulus plans by the Federal Reserve, continued angst over the fiscal "House of Cards" in Europe, and -- of course -- Mother Nature.
And John, what do you have to say about corn. You have been following that this week.

Roach: Well, the corn market is starting to get concerned about the weather. We had a lot of areas that we just have not had very much precipitation and yet most areas the crop still is hanging in there looking pretty good. The crop rating actually surprised people on Monday that it actually was a just a tick higher in the percentage move from good up to excellent. But we're really moving into a critical time frame and we have gone a long time in a lot of areas without very much rain. And so I think we are on the verge here of taking the corn market away from the bigger economic picture and focusing it really on the attention of weather.

Borg: Virgil, soybeans.

Robinson: Tight supplies here and in South America. The double crop acres that I think we have been banking on perhaps in jeopardy here with dry weather, abnormally dry weather, in several areas that traditionally Missouri, Kansas, and others put soybeans right after wheat. So, pretty solidly underpinned by supply. Demand remains strong. Exports remain strong. I think any concern weather-wise here. Soybeans are explosive.

Borg: Sue.

Martin: Well, I think that -

Borg: Cattle and pork.

Martin: I think that the cattle market is, when we look at the box beef, it is basically at almost record high levels. I think that when you come into summer and we've got the number of imports coming in, imports are greater than they were a year ago. In the meantime yes, we maybe have less numbers than a year ago, but we are carrying a lot more weight than a year ago in cattle. And so I think that that's picking up some of the slack and then you got gasoline prices which maybe have ebbed down a little bit. But the consumer is strapped and has to cut corners and I think that demand has been kind of jeopardized a little bit. So, I think that maybe in another week or so here the cattle market peaks and we start to see another tail off as we go in through July toward August. The better time, I think for cattle will be more December into January, February of next year.

Borg: Hogs?

Martin: Well, the hog market, you know the retailer has kept his prices quite high. He hasn't really lowered the price when hog prices fell and now of late we have had a nice little rally in the hog market which would almost be a seasonal thing, but again I think we don't have a whole lot on the upside maybe a couple two or three dollars. I would be hedging fall pigs.

Borg: Tomm, the fiscal situation in Europe, affecting agriculture?

Pfitzenmaier: I think it is going to be an absolute headwind. I agree with Virgil and John that ultimately in the short run weather is going to the issue. But we're going to have a headwind on both cattle, hogs, corn, beans, everything because of these problems in Europe and it is going to make the dollar stronger, the euro weaker and it is going to be a problem for us.

Borg: China affected by what is going on in Europe too? That is their ability to buy?

Pfitzenmaier: China -- I think one of the ways that they are affected maybe positively is it is probably going to be a - keep down the pressure on crude oil prices which is going to be a benefit to them and to us in the U.S. as far as that goes. So that is sort of the silver lining of this stronger dollar is it is probably going to keep pressure on that particular market.

Borg: Just a quick comment. Danger of inflation hurting agriculture at all?

Pfitzenmaier: Not imminently but I think ultimately you can't keep pumping this much money in - both in Europe and in the United States without ultimately having some serious inflation problems three, four, or five years down the road.

Martin: I think so too.

Borg: Thanks to all of you for your comments. Well, that wraps up this edition of Market to Market.  But you can hear more from our analysts, view the Mark Pearson Video tribute, and post your comments at our Web site. In the days ahead, Market to Market will return to its regular format.  And just as Mark Pearson originally was known to most viewers as “Chet Randolph’s successor,” the next host of Market to Market will always be known as Mark’s.
I’m Dean Borg.  Thanks for watching.


Tags: agriculture cattle commodity prices corn economy feeders hogs John Roach markets news soybeans Sue Martin Tomm Pfitzenmaier Virgil Robinson wheat