A cut above

Meat prices are on the rise. Last year this time, the average price for a cut of beef was $4.51. Right now it’s at $5.69. Same goes for pork which was averaging $2.92 and is now at $3.79. Live hog prices are around $20 a head higher than this time last year. Even though herds will most likely expand, there should still be good demand from those meat eaters out there. With prices looking good and feed costs still low, 2015 is already shaping up to be a good year in livestock.

 


Speaking of high

Ready to take off with your new drone? Not so fast. Last year the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was supposed to release regulations for small drones that are used for agriculture.  So far we haven’t heard anything from the big office, so as of right now they can be used for recreational purposes only. One thing is for sure, these things could be huge game changers in the Ag industry.

So what will they be used for?

Anything your little imagination can dream up. From detecting insect problems and watering issues on your crops, to tracking down those lost cattle that hopped the fence yesterday. The sky’s the limit here.

 


Risky business

If you’ve been a little lazy in your marketing strategy these last few years, it’s time to pump up your game. With prices lower, it’s more important than ever to take a closer look at your risk management plan. There are always ways to improve your marketing skills. When it comes to business and making the tough decisions, farming is the real deal.

 

 

That’s it. That’s all she wrote. See you back here next week. Same time, same place.

The Grazers

 

A cut above

All about that base

Base acres, that is. The FSA Farm Bill payments will be based on the commodity base acres that the USDA has on file, not by what is actually planted each year.

Base acres?

Base acres are the number of acres you told the USDA that you have allotted to grow certain grain.  So if you farm a total of 100 acres, you could have allotted 75 base acres for corn and 25 base acres for soybeans. When you add all of your base acres together, it should equal the total number of farm-able acres you have. You should have gotten a letter from the USDA back in July that showed what they have on record for your farm.

So what’s the big deal?

You have a one-time chance to make changes to your base acres.  February 27, 2015 is the last day to let the USDA know if you want to keep your 2013 base acres through the duration of this bill (2018) or if you want to change your base acres to something that might be more favorable to higher payments. There are some stipulations to the reallocation. Things like online base-reallocation tools can help. Don’t forget, your election is irrevocable–no changing your mind on this one.

A little more help here

K-State and Oklahoma State created an online tool you can use to run different price scenarios to help you decided whether or not to update base acres. And don’t forget about contacting your FSA office or attending an informational meeting.

 


The skinny on the potash

 

So what are potash prices look like for spring? They’re not too sure yet. Since it’s only extracted in 12 countries, the experts keep an eye on production in countries like Canada, the number one supplier, and Russia, who just had a potash mine flood, to try to predict what prices might do here in the US. So far no solid word. What the experts do know is that growers would rather skimp on the potash than pay a lot for it when grain prices are down.

what the heck is potash anyway?

Potash is a mix of potassium (K), nitrogen (N) and phosphate (P). It’s one of the main ingredients in most commercial fertilizers. Potassium in particular is what helps plants grow strong and resist stress.  Did you know it’s found in every cell of every plant and animal? Wow. It’s pretty important stuff when it comes to crop yield.

Speaking of important

They say that by 2030 global demand for ag products will be up by 60%. That’s just 15 years from now. Plus we’re going to have less land to work with. So getting the highest yield from every inch of ground that is worked is pretty important. Enter potash.

That’s it. That’s all she wrote. See you back here next week. Same time, same place.

The Grazers

 

All about that base

What’s cookin’

Remember that new beef checkoff idea? You know, the one Mr. Ag Secretary wanted to put in place back in October? That one where they wanted to increase the checkoff to $2 a head. Well it’s been dropped.

Beef: Check

With the current beef checkoff program every cattle producer and importer pays $1 per head every time a cow is sold.  The money goes toward things like marketing to help increase the demand for beef. You know, like the whole ‘Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.’ campaign.

Just NOT cutTIng it

The dollar isn’t stretching as far as it used to. Probably because cattle herds are at their lowest numbers since the 1950’s and some say they might be getting even smaller in 2015. Producers want changes to the checkoff program to see a better return on their funding, but no one can seem to agree on a fix.

Nothing beats aged meat

The checkoff isn’t a new idea. It’s been around since 1985 when it passed as part of that Farm Bill thing.

 


Speaking of the Farm Bill

Have you been to one of those informational meetings yet?  Turns out, coverage is not one-size-fits-all. Every farm situation is different. So if you want to make the right decision, you better start asking the right questions. In other words, don’t waste your time. Do your homework before you show up.

.


 

Officially Official

In case you were worried, Section 179 was officially signed by Mr. President on Friday. So if you’re looking to make some bigger deductions this year, spend away my friend.

 


 

How green is your Christmas tree?

If you have a fake one, chances are not very. You would have use an artificial tree for 20 years for it to be considered more earth-friendly than just chopping down a new one every year. Might want to bust out the tree saw next year.

 

That’s it. That’s all she wrote. Meet you back here next week. Same time, same place.

The Grazers

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

 

What’s cookin’

Better late than never?

Remember those tax breaks you’ve been waiting for? Well congress passed them yesterday. They’re really on top of things.

What it means

You can now deduct up to $500,000 worth of “tangible business property” like computers, software, tractors or vehicles over 6,000 lbs. This is way up from the $25,000 that was allowed last year.

How much time you have

This extension is only for 2014. Thanks for the late notice.

Repeat

This extension is only for 2014. So you have a total of two weeks–until December 31, 2014– to buy-up if you want to take advantage. After that it’s back to the drawing board for 2015 and who knows what they’ll come up with.


Didn’t mean to bug you again this week

We will be back to one text notice a week next week–we just thought this info was pretty time sensitive and wanted you to know about it right away.

 

That’s it. That’s all she wrote. See you back here next Monday.

The Grazers

You might want to Share this news with your friends. They’ll appreciate it.

 

Better late than never?

The end is near

The final WASDE report of the year came out last Wednesday. It looks like they are predicting that demand thing to go up a little for soybeans and corn. They think we might need more than expected here in the US and overseas.

Some things are hard to BELIEVE

Even the small spike in demand they reported is hard to believe for some. There are a lot of bears out there in soybean trading land. It might be because worldwide stockpiles of beans are at an all-time high. This is probably why prices  dropped a little shortly after the report came out despite the increase they predicted in demand. Soybeans dropped to $10.384 and corn to $3.936.

 

What the futures have in store

March corn futures went up to above $4 ($4.074 to be more precise) last Friday and soybeans even gained five cents. Good thing you decided to store some grain this fall.

 

Better days ahead in the animal kingdom

Remember when grain prices were skyrocketing and that little thing called drought was everywhere? Things weren’t looking so good in the animal kingdom. With the drought affecting supplies, demand really went up. And now that feed prices have dropped, the future’s looking good.  Some people are saying cattle will peak at $160-$175 and swine between $80-$100. Now that’s a bright looking future.

 


 

Speaking of the future

Remember that section that dropped your annual deduction limit down from $500,000 to $25,000 for 2014? You know–Section 179. Sounds like congress will be voting on it again. The vote could change the deductions back to $500,000 for this year, but the experts are skeptical. We won’t know for sure for a few days. Good thing you have your tax guy on speed dial.

as it stands

This tax break is aimed at helping small businesses. Right now, if your annual purchases exceed $200,000 the limit is reduced for every dollar you go over. So if your purchases for the year are $206,000 you can only deduct $19,000. But this could all change with that vote. Did we mention it was supposed to happen last Tuesday? Nice congress.


IYFF

This month wraps up what the UN declared the International Year of Family Farming. They thought it would be nice to recognize the people who produce half the world’s food. Not to mention helping to combat hunger, climate change and biodiversity loss. All in a days work.

 

That’s it. That’s all she wrote. See you back here next week. Same time, same place.

The Grazers

If you look forward to grazing with us every Monday, your friends might too!
The end is near