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We in Agriculture love production! For example, we’re producing about 50% more corn, soy, and pork than we did just a quarter century ago here in the U.S. The playbook for decades has been: find more global markets to peddle our commodities so we can keep doing what we like doing, which is producing stuff. Here’s the problem — and the commodity pri…
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It’s setting up to be a challenging year for farm economics. Add to that: it’s an election year, Washington DC is as dysfunctional as ever, and we still don’t have a Farm Bill — which was supposed to have been passed last year. What’s the outlook financially for farms. What about trade policy? Does renewable energy investment favor Ag? Will the U.S…
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Nationally, between 30 and 40% of farmland is rented to an operator from a land owner. But how are rental rates for this hugely valuable asset class determined? Are the rental rates fair? What causes variability in values? Howard Halderman of Halderman Real Estate and Farm Management explains the math and methodology of farm cash rents. The structu…
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Kyle Beaver is a self-admitted Jack-of-all-Trades who, at age 25, turned a Google search into a mushroom business. Six years later he’s refining Ten Mile Mushrooms and launched a subsidiary. The business still grows some fungus for consumption but has morphed into a supplier of ready-to-fruit substrate. That means, they sell the stuff that makes mu…
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Agricultural trade events can be a lot of fun, but are they always valuable? And who are they valuable to? Brandon Wipf, South Dakota farmer and co-chair of Commodity Classic 2024, joins Damian Mason and XtremeAg’s Kelly Garrett to talk trade events. How do these two business-minded farmers get value from trade events? How can you maximize your ROI…
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Blake Matthews returned to the Idaho family farming operation twenty years ago. Upon his return, he began experimenting with a new array of products and practices, including bio-nutrients. First, he used bio-nutrients to help his sugar beets bounce back after applying glyphosate. He moved on to potatoes where he has eliminated fungicide and insecti…
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22 years ago, immediately after graduating from college AND getting married, John Carroll and his new bride flew to Brazil to start farming. John’s family, with a farming operation in west central Illinois, had just purchased farm land in a newly developed Ag area of Brazil. Today John and his family are living back in Illinois but he manages the B…
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In Agriculture we generally have the perception that farmers as price takers are being short-changed as “middle men” make all the margin. While it’s popular to talk about “cutting out the middle man,” how realistic is it to actually happen? Ryan Moe and Todd Thurman join Damian to discuss who these middle operators are, what they do, and whether or…
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Ag commodity marketing is too complex, largely misunderstood, and the industry is full of products and services you probably don’t even need to profitably market your grain. That truth bomb — along with many more — is courtesy of Joe Vaclavik of Standard Grain. Mr. Vaclavik, a former grain trader turned commodity marketing commentator, says there a…
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Interest rates appear to be stabilizing, wage and food inflation are still worsening, and predictions for America’s Ag sector are a bit dour for 2024. What’s going on at the macro-economic level and what does it mean for Agriculture? Compeer’s Chief Risk Officer, Bill Moore, joins Damian to discuss inflation, land values, debt, the American consume…
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Cost of production set a record in 2023 as the most expensive crops ever planted. How things turned out for the P&L statement depended on weather, yield, and how well operators navigated the commodity markets. Prices for land, labor, fuel, machinery, and crop inputs aren’t subsiding, nor is the interest rate for borrowed money. All this points to a…
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Canada is the world’s number one exporter of oats — a commodity enjoying an upswing in demand thanks to snack bars and oat milk. Did you know almost every bushel of oats goes straight to human consumption? With horse racing’s decline in popularity, human oat consumption is the key to future growth. John Bergen and Riley Anderson, Manitoba farmers, …
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Calvin Koeller's Illinois farm operation is about to lose a couple miles worth of farm land to an electrical grid expansion. This new electric line project was defeated a few years ago but, with support from the Inflation Reduction Act — and some Illinois politics — the Grainbelt Express Electric project is back on track. As currently designed, it’…
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Currently, pork profitability (or lack thereof) has certain observers comparing the industry to the late ’90s when pork was in turmoil. It was that era, in fact, that set the stage for today’s (mostly) vertically integrated hog production model using contact grower farmers. Adam Krause, a contract grower, joins Glenn Muller, Executive Director of S…
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If you’re in business, at some level, you’re in sales. So, how exactly would you rate your sales game? Do you ask the right questions? Is your product knowledge keeping up? Do you understand the needs and problems of the customers you seek to serve? St. John (“Sinjin”) Craner, a sales and marketing trainer specializing in Agriculture explains how s…
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The Mississippi River is low and that’s causing shipping problems for Agriculture. Mark Milam with Independent Commodity Intelligence Services joins Damian to discuss issues of transportation, supply, and distribution of fertilizer for crop year 2024. Sponsored by: Pattern Ag pattern.ag AGvisorPRO getagvisorpro.com Truterra truterraag.com…
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The chasm between beef and dairy is being bridged as the two industries fuse in a trend that could be good for beef, dairy, consumers, the marketplace, and maybe the environment. The advent of sex-specific semen made a whole lot of dairy cow uteruses available. Meanwhile the beef industry needed calves. The result: beef bulls being bred to dairy ca…
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As it turns out, we’ve not always been good to our soil. Fortunately we’re starting to better understand the living organism beneath our feet. However, we’re still mistreating this valuable asset that’s selling for $15,000 to $20,000 per acre in some areas. David Kleinschmidt of Progressive Agronomy and Illinois farmer Mike Imhoff discuss cover cro…
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Using a $40 million federal grant paid over five years via USDA’s climate initiative, DeLong company created the “Grown Climate Smart” program. A 38 branch Ag retailer and grain elevator, DeLong has roughly 250,000 customer acres enrolled in the program that incentivizes wind breaks, cover cropping, tillage reduction, and nutrient management. Now t…
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Farmland prices have been on fire the last couple years. But are those prices peaking? Beyond the huge sale numbers seen on social media, Ag property has been selling well but…there are signs of a cooling off. What can we expect moving forward? Will the institutional investors remain in Ag land? And what are the drivers of farm ground pricing and s…
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Businesses are encouraged to conduct assessments of their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In short: What are you good at, what do you suck at, where will tomorrow’s money be made, and what things could put you out of business? The most critical element of an effective SWOT Analysis is the ability to be critical. That’s why I broug…
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Used machinery markets are heating up earlier than normal. Is this because farmers in need of equipment recall getting shut out during the supply chain disruptions of Covid or is there a used equipment shortage? What are interest rates — more than double what they were just a year or so ago— doing to the farm implement market? Does a farmer need th…
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Comet Bio is a technology-enabled food ingredient company that, after eight years, is finally ready to churn out food ingredients. The company extracts fiber — arabinoxylan to be specific — from wheat straw and turns it into an ingredient for food companies to use in food for human consumption. This is a win-win for everyone involved: New demand fo…
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Organic food sales growth still outpaces conventional, despite food inflation and even after nearly two decades of “organic” being a thing. Additionally, the margins are better for organic. So, how much longer can “organic” grow organically? How do organic chicken farms operate, is it the same as vertically integrated conventional poultry productio…
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I was recently asked by two investor friends of mine, “Damian, if I handed you a billion dollars, where in Ag would you invest it?” The question, as well as the six weeks of pondering it inspired in my head, made me think this was a solid and stimulating topic for The Business of Agriculture. Looking from 2023 and beyond, where within our industry …
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Silage — in case you’re unfamiliar— is high moisture forage chopped and stored for cattle feed, principally dairy animals. It derives its name from the fact we used to blow this forage into silos. That’s not done much anymore for reasons of safety, practicality, and scale. The most common method of ensiling and storing cow feed involves piling it o…
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Regenerative practices have become a new area of focus in production Agriculture. But what about our grazing lands — are we managing those lands for healthier soil, a healthier environment AND a healthier bottom line? Hugh Aljoe and Jim Johnson with Noble Research Institute, an Oklahoma-based ranch and research entity operating on 14,000 acres, joi…
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A few years ago there was a great deal of hype surrounding Controlled Environment Ag (indoor farming). Money was pouring into the space from outside investors. Along with the money came the media coverage, which brought more money and more hype. According to some, we were just a short time away from never eating vegetables grown conventionally in f…
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My farmer friends at XtremeAg say, “The limiting yield factor isn’t the seed, it’s probably us.” Well, that’s not necessarily the case — another huge limiting yield factor is loss due to pathogens. With so many nasty diseases out there, our problem has often been misdiagnosis or a failure to treat our crops before the damage is done. Fortunately, n…
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We’re several years into various programs looking to sign up acres for such things as carbon sequestration, nitrogen reduction, cover crops, and other regenerative practices. Yet, there are still not very many acres signed up. Why is that and what will it take to get more acres involved with ecosystem marketing? In this episode Damian asks the ques…
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If you’re in modern day production Agriculture, you are in business. Probably to the tune of millions of dollars of allocated capital. Yet, many farmers don’t flex their money mindset or think like entrepreneurs. This could make for real on-farm struggles moving into an era of high interest rates, consolidation, and demographic changes on North Ame…
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Every Summer we begin to analyze crop reports, look at the markets and ask the question, “Will Ag make money this year? And if so, which sectors?” Jarod Creed of JC Marketing & Ag Financial Services joins Damian to discuss farm income, recent ag economic history, political winds shaping or shifting Ag, and other forces impacting farm revenue. The g…
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We produce a LOT of agricultural output here in the United States and the trend line for increased productivity isn’t letting up. So what happens when we run out of places to sell our output or creative ways to burn through our crops as we’ve done with ethanol or renewable diesel? Will we see calls for controlling the supply through a quota system …
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As you’ve likely heard me say, we in Agriculture suffer from commodity mindset. When we think of growing margins, we think of reducing costs, getting bigger, and making more with less. But what happens when there’s almost no efficiencies to be gained, or worse yet when we make so much stuff that even through efficiencies the margins are paltry due …
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The proliferation of biological crop inputs over the last several years has been almost overwhelming. I personally believe soil biology — understanding it and working with the soil versus against it — is the next frontier for production Agriculture. That said, the world of biological soil and crop enhancements is crowded while still a bit murky. Wh…
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Mike Way started his Ag career selling citrus upon graduating from Fresno State. A few years later, he hopped over to vegetables with a few partners. Today he is the CEO and half owner of Prime Time — a California-based grower / shipper / packer of produce specializing mostly in peppers. Mike explains the challenges of providing year-round vegetabl…
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North American farmers are losing valuable bushels of corn and soybeans at both the front and back end of their combines -- those bushels never making it to the grain bin. We in Agriculture have been conditioned to focus on increasing production. But what about the money being lost by losing yield on crops you’ve already produced? That was the moti…
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In a year’s time, interest rates have more than doubled, commodity prices have declined by roughly 15 percent, while land and cash rent prices are in record territory. So, is everything alright with farm financials? John Maman with Nutrien Financial joins Damian to discuss Agriculture money and the marketplace. No, it’s still not the 1980’s and yes…
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If you work in the Business of Agriculture, you likely know of a dysfunctional family farming operation. Contrary to the pastoral vision of farming portrayed in children’s books, many farms are stress-filled places to work with family members in conflict, run by narcissistic owners. So says Andy Junkin who works as a farm mediator and advisor to ke…
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Farmland values have been on a tear the last couple years. Who’s buying America's farms and why are they doing so? Is it true that institutional investors are keeping farmers from expanding ownership? Will interest rate hikes cause farm ground prices to plummet? Are foreigners buying the property next door? Is farmland still a good investment? Shou…
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Drone technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Will we see a future where unmanned aerial vehicles replace the traditional crop duster? Likely not for a number of practical reasons as well as the technology advancements being made in manned agricultural aviation. A more likely scenario is where drones compliment airplanes (as well as terrestrial app…
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“Our industry is going to require 60,000 4-year college graduates and we’re around 38,000 students graduating from the Ag curriculum currently.” So says Dr. Tom Paulson, department head at Morningside U’s Applied Agricultural and Food Studies. Dr. Paulson is joined by Tom Moss and Liz Zoebel, two of 75 students studying Agriculture at the Sioux Cit…
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Have you noticed steaks and chicken breasts are considerably larger than they were just a couple decades ago? Switching to pork, have you noticed your chops are less flavorful (maybe that explains the popularity of bacon)? Todd Thurman and Nevil Speer join Damian to discuss the meat production model and how we’ve gotten to a place of less flavor an…
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Every five years congress hashes out, argues about, and then releases a new and revised Farm Bill. At least that is what’s supposed to happen, although it may not happen for the 2023 version. Paul Neiffer, the Farm CPA, joins Damian to explain the current Farm Bill, predict what’s in the new version, and discuss proposed changes. The new Farm Bill’…
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Fact: There will be fewer American farmers ten years from now than there are today. In no way is this meant to be fatalistic or negative, it’s just reality. “Peak farm” occurred in 1935 with 6.8 million farming operations in the U.S. The number has been declining ever since to two million farming operations today. Of those two million operations, a…
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When you think of buying a piece of farm ground, you probably think of the very real possibility that the soil is depleted. But what if it’s got more than enough fertility and what if you can actually use that banked fertility to lower your taxes? Turns out, per IRS Section 180, you can depreciate excess fertility on newly acquired farm land (purch…
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Much of American Agriculture is predicted to have a prosperous 2023. But there are concerns. Commodity prices are high but so are inputs. Exports set a record last year but geopolitical strife is simmering on the verge of boiling over. What’s the future hold for Ag? Arlan Suderman, Chief Commodities Economist with StoneX Financial and a self-procla…
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The Amazon effect is coming to Agriculture. In fact, it’s already here. If you need something on your farm, chances are you can order it up on your smart phone and have it by the end of the week. Even chemicals, seed, and fertilizer. But will Ag retail go away? Not likely, given the proximity, relationship, and handling capacity. Lance Ramthun, fou…
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All indications are, money is going to be blowing into Agriculture from a myriad of sources over the next year, largely in the form of environmentalism. Is this trend for real? Will the funds come from a new Farm Bill? Are corporate players truly investing in Ag or just covering their tales in the new era of ESG — Environmental, Social, and Governa…
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If you’ve worked in the Business of Agriculture for one year or the past 50 years, all you’ve known is increased globalization of our industry. That’s changing and the pace of change will likely accelerate during the next decade. Todd Thurman, co-host of The Business of Ag Success Group discusses the rise of globalization as we examine American Ag …
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