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Market Plus: Dec 19, 2008: John Roach, Senior Market Analyst

posted on December 19, 2008

Market Plus: Dec 19, 2008: John Roach, Senior Market Analyst Pearson: Welcome, this is the Friday, December 19th, 2008 version of Market Plus. We're glad you've joined us here at our Web site. And by the way, if you enjoy us on the Web you'd enjoy us even more on your local public television affiliate. So, if you're watching us on the Web and we're not available on TV be sure to contact your local public television programmer in your area and say, I want to watch Market to Market on our local station. With us this week our senior market analyst, John Roach. Always good to have John's great perspective on what's ahead in agriculture and great ability to sort out what's going on in some of the things that are important. I want to divert a little bit compared to what we normally do and talk about the input issue. We mentioned it on the show, Iowa State came out with a $4 number for a break even on corn, $9 on soybeans. Those are some pretty big nuts to crack with the kind of market that we have and that we have going forward on the board at this point. Hopefully the trade will push prices higher, something to be a catalyst. You always talk about selling in March, April and May anyway. This is not a time typically when you recommend sales. But people out there that are sitting on some high priced fertilizer maybe for part of their operation they're kind of wondering what to do and what's ahead and what we see in terms of price factors and these inputs.

Roach: Well, the input prices, fertilizer has come down quite a little bit. In fact, we hear about fertilizer trading at the Gulf at sub $500 for anhydrous and what we understand is that not all of the fertilizer sales people bought the high priced fertilizer and you're going to see some examples out there we think this spring of some fertilizer that is going to appear to be considerably less expensive. So, this will be one of those shop around kind of years and we think that as always happens when you get into these kind of difficult times it's the shopping around that sometimes pays the biggest dividends.

Pearson: You talked about focusing on things you can control on the show and not so much worrying about where price is. This input side, at least on the fertilizer front right now, may be a place that we should be looking. So, again, you're going to see maybe some opportunities out there where some retailers are going to be purchased low or have light of the expensive inventories and be able to offer some better deals. I talked to 1000 farmers this week in two states, everybody comes up with the same kinds of questions and one of the other big questions, diesel fuel. Should we be booking it now with crude oil down around $36 a barrel? Should we be booking those needs? Should we be looking in that direction?

Roach: Absolutely. One of the things that always happens with markets when you have a big market that goes up they tend to always go too high. When you have a big market that goes down they tend to go too low. And that's certainly the situation in the energy market now. We're down to price levels that we didn't think were possible just months ago and don't look at that and think the same way you might have thought about grains last summer. When the grain prices were high last summer you might have thought you didn't have to do anything. That was a mistake. Energy prices are cheap now and you might think you don't have to do anything. I believe that would also be a mistake. I think this is a time where if you have thought about putting up some fuel storage that I'd be doing that. If you've thought about putting up grain bins I'd be doing that. I think you want to make sure you don't get caught next fall having to sell grain in the harvest glut because you didn't plan your storage well enough. I think now is the time to be working on some of those components and not worrying so much about how to sell grain.

Pearson: And, of course, the grain bins have certainly paid off for the last couple of years, John.

Roach: Well, the grain bins have paid off very well starting back in 2006. We tend to forget this but in August of 2006 corn coming out of the elevator in northwest Iowa was just a freckle over $2 a bushel and then by the time we got into the winter of 2006 into early 2007 it was well over $4 a bushel. So, we expect that if the crops are very good this upcoming year next fall will likely be the low of this new price plateau that we're on and so you don't want to get caught in a position where you're having to sell corn next fall and paying commercial storage is no fun either. So, we think that those two things, fuel storage and grain storage, are two things you really want to focus in on right now.

Pearson: We had a very short livestock segment because of the time that we had, you mentioned livestock producers. This is a time to be taking advantage of a lower grain market.

Roach: Absolutely. We've already come up quite a little ways from the bottom and on pullbacks in this market, in the grain markets, you need to be accumulating your livestock feed and then as we look forward on out into the spring of the year when we see some good, strong prices in the early part of the spring then that's when you may want to look forward to be hedging some livestock. Right now we're not livestock hedgers.

Pearson: Alright, John Roach, as usual, great to have your insights. Thanks for being with us, our senior market analyst John Roach with us on Market to Market and, of course, right here on Market Plus. Again, give a call to your local public television programmer and say, I'd like to watch Market to Market, I get it on the Internet, I'd like to watch the full show maybe in HD in your local area. Be sure to contact your local public television station. For all of us here on Market to Market, I'm Mark Pearson wishing you the very best this holiday season.

Tags: agriculture commodity prices markets news