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Market Plus: Jun 05, 2009: Tomm Pfitzenmaier, market analyst

posted on June 5, 2009

Market Plus: Jun 05, 2009: Tomm Pfitzenmaier, market analyst Pearson: This is the Friday, June 5th, 2009 version of Market Plus. We're glad you've joined us here at our Market to Market Web site. With us this week one of our long-time market analysts, Tomm Pfitzenmaier joining us. Corn and beans have been where all the action has been the last few weeks really since the 15th of September, 2007 if you really want to put a finger on it. But now we're going into the year following last year and it was June and July when we had those massive corn and soybean prices, we put in those massive highs, we're seeing oil start to rally, people are starting to think it's starting to look just like 2008. What should producers be doing now? A lot of people out there are nervous, I've talked to a lot of producers who have said they just haven't done much this year, they just haven't done much, they didn't want to get in early, they didn't want to get hung up, they didn't want to be in a position where they were dependent on an entity to pay them after last year's deal with the ethanol, VeraSun deal. So, walk us through -- what would you be telling a producer walking in your door right now in terms of making sales for corn and beans for 2009?

Pfitzenmaier: Number one, having an entity that didn't pay you is not a good reason to not do anything. There are other opportunities to do besides going through them to do that. So, that excuse really doesn't cut it very well. Number two, this year is not like last year, we aren't going to have $150 oil, we don't have a booming economy, we don't have a lot of things going on, the viable, healthy livestock industry that we had a year ago so I guess some say don't let yourself get all whipped up about last year. We do have some fund buying but we don't have the long only funds buying, it's the kind of funds that can turn around and get short and drive the thing down too pretty quickly. I think the third thing you can take from last year is that doesn't last very long and falls apart very quickly. Now, the ideal strategy on a situation like this and the one a lot of people would like to implement is wait until the highs and then sell everything. Barring your inability to do that you're going to have to build in some kind of a strategy that gives you some flexibility because most people can't stand to be wrong, they need to be able to participate if it goes a little higher than what they sold it which is the ideal prescription for a minimum price contract, buy inputs, locking in some kind of a window, some strategy like that. You can buy December $4.20 to $4.40, $4.50 puts, sell a call $1 higher than that, give yourself a nice window on the upside for 30 cents, 32 cents, something like that so you're locking in a minimum price above $4 which isn't too bad. On beans, old crop beans, if you've got old crop beans you're speculating on some wild and crazy thing when the July contract goes off, good luck. As far as new crop beans, again, we're up in that $10.50, $11.00 range, buy yourself a $10.00, $10.20, $10.40, some kind of put like that and sell a $13.00, $14.00 call against it, give yourself a couple, three dollars upside potential if it wants to do that but, again, you're locking in a floor of above $10.00 and then look back 30 years over your farming history and tell me how many years you sold beans at $10.00 plus. We're shaping up to have a good crop year. If you can get beans sold at those kind of prices you're going to have yourself a heck of a year.

Pearson: And if yields hit it's going to work. So, that covers us from the grain and the oil seed standpoint. Let's talk about the flip side of all of this which has been the livestock sector. We talked about cattle and hogs on the show. Again, it was people thought an improving picture in 2009, it has turned extremely bleak here at the start of summer for both cattle and hogs and the hog producer in particular, the ones out there who are independent who are still out there they're struggling. We heard that Purdue University economist who said we'd lose a huge chunk of producers this year. We're actually hearing from people who are saying they're getting out of the business. You've talked to them, I've talked to them, that's the real deal. Dark as this is can we be setting ourselves up for 2010?

Pfitzenmaier: I think by the end of 2010 we could be setting up for $100, $110 hogs, we could have unbelievably good hog prices if we have the liquidation like you mentioned. They're talking about some kind of a sow buyout. Now, that's a private deal, we should emphasize that's not a government deal but if you can make room from now to then I think you're going to be all right but you're going to take some serious walking on if you're not careful here. Some of the deferred contracts have a little better prices that are probably ultimately going to work their way down to where the cash market is, it seems like the cash market has stabilized here in the mid 50s, hopefully that will hold and, again, with pork prices so much cheaper than the other meats demand should start to kind of shore up here a little bit. But, yes, that's going to be a good time to play defense and a lot of it, at least through 2009.

Pearson: Last thing here on Market Plus, you talked about the weak dollar and, of course, that's good for us in agriculture, we like that but you also mentioned, at least on the protein front, on the livestock front we just have not seen those foreign buyers really take advantage of that yet. Is that going to change?

Pfitzenmaier: I guess I'm not sure. The Chinese obviously have been buying our protein by virtue of the beans and you've seen the old crop meal is going to get in some kind of a crazy tight situation which could drag -- you've got the front month higher than the back month which is always a bullish situation -- so I guess if you need to do some protection go buy the September, October, December soybean meals or contracts or bull call spreads or calls or something to kind of get that part of your protein needs locked up.

Pearson: All right, some good points as usual. Tomm Pfitzenmaier with us this week on Market to Market. If you enjoy our Market Plus segments here on the Internet make sure you call your local public television programmer and say I really enjoy Market to Market and I really like the show, I'd like to be able to watch it on my public television station. Just tell them that and I'm sure they'll be happy to comply. For all of us here on Market to Market, for Tomm Pfitzenmaier, I'm Mark Pearson. Have a great week.

Tags: agriculture commodity prices markets news