The past couple of weeks have been filled with lots of travel. Tucson, AZ; Lubbock, TX; Logan, UT; and Indianapolis, IN, have been some of my stops.

If you get a chance to hear Dr. Michael Swanson, a Wells Fargo economist, speak, it is well worth the experience. Some of the points he made at the 50th Agricultural Bankers Conference in Indianapolis are as follows.

* The commodity price outlook is dependent on four variables: The U.S. has low stocks in all commodities, depleted soil moisture, strong global demand and tough competition.

Brazil has a three-month planting window and does not have the weather risks that we experience in the U.S.

* The U.S. is very competitive with other areas of the world on variable cost of production, but it’s the fixed costs, i.e. land values, that elevate our cost of production and make America less competitive.

* When examining land values, one has to analyze possible risks. Those include low commodity prices and net earnings, environmental risks, and political risks, i.e. changes in farm payments. Environmental risks will be a driver of land values later in the decade.

These are some interesting thoughts to consider as you map out your 2003 game plan.

College Football

Wow! Ohio State and Miami – Looks like they’re going to make it to the end!

When I was in Lubbock, TX, the Tech fans were confident they would beat Texas and they did!

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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