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Market Plus: Aug 22, 2008: Virgil Robinson and Walt Hackney

posted on August 22, 2008

Market Plus: Aug 22, 2008: Virgil Robinson and Walt Hackney Pearson: This is the Friday, August 22nd, 2008 version of Market Plus. We're glad you've joined us here at our Market to Market Web site. With us two of our great analysts, Walt Hackney and Virgil Robinson, I want to get them both to talk. Walt, this calf market, you keep telling me about this shrinking cow herd, the fewest cows in the United States since 1950 but we're producing an awful lot of beef. Is it going to be tight this next year? What is your outlook for feeder cattle?

Hackney: It might be healthy. We're going to need to be able to control our inventory and this might be the one way due to the availability and maybe the cow herd nationally is off two or three percent, nationally, but regionally you go to the southeast, my goodness, they're off eight or ten because of the drought last year. If you go to the northwest due to extraordinary costs of production up there, the hay and so forth they're down probably two or three in the northwest. So, we're probably going to see a general reduction of availability. The other thing that is the independent sector is needing to be aware of is their role in the overall of buying power is disseminating every year. We've got the corproate buyers now stepping in that own from enormous feedlots, one feedlot in particular has got 800,000 head of cattle on feed. Now, they also own the biggest packer in the country. Now, how much clout Iowa or Nebraska or Illinois cattle feeder have to go out buying one or two loads of these calves in competition with the needs of those corporate giants that need those cattle in there to support their cost of operations. So, we've got a real problem potentially coming at us as cattle feeders. The cattle producer, he might be in the cat bird seat, he very easily could be in the cat bird seat. The potential for him to have an aggressive market is probably as good today as it has been for many, many years.

Pearson: Some good news for the rancher, good news for the cow-calf guy. Let's talk, Virgil, on the flip side. You talked about some pretty high production costs for corn and beans going into next year and I'm hearing this everywhere. It's got some people a little concerned and you're saying let's take some action on corn, maybe let's get out there and at least look at making some '09 sales because we should have a decent carry out next year?

Robinson: It should be adequate if this crop finishes and is as forecast, as good as it is forecast at present. I neglected earlier this evening to mention that with the increase in wheat production globally a lot of that production is going to find its way into the feed channels in as much of quality was an issue. So, there's a lot of utility type, feed type quality wheat. That too is a factor that concerns me moving forward here with regards to feed grain prices and corn prices in particular. So, given the economics at least based on crop budgets put together by the University of Illinois and Iowa State University I think it's prudent to capture some of that and maybe it's only ten or twenty percent but I certainly think it's approrpiate given what we sense and fear might be coming down the pipe in terms of exchange rates, psychology, market behavior as defined by the presence of commodity funds and the investigative and researching projects that are underway by the CFTC and so on. I think it's appropriate.

Pearson: So, a little defensive tonight and, again, I think part of that defensiveness makes common sense because we're now getting a better feel for what this crop is and frankly the seed technology came through, Virgil. Provided no early frost hits according to that Pro Farmer Crop Tour we'll have decent corn yields.

Robinson: Yeah, we are in spite of the fact that the spring of '08 was as unusual and bizarre as we've ever experienced.

Pearson: I think it's a confidence builder. We'll see what happens. Very exciting, great comments, a little bit defensive, cow-calf guys have got some money, going to build some equity hopefully this year. We'll have more, of course, next week. I want to thank Walt Hackney and I want to thank Virgil Robinson for being with us and from all of us on Market to Market, I'm Mark Pearson. Have a great week.

Tags: agriculture commodity prices markets news