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  • Jan 6, 2015
    blog

    2015 Kickoff

    Everyone has had their fill of football bowl games, and now we are into the college and professional football playoffs, which usually provide some surprises and upsets. This is much like thinking ahead about what to expect in 2015. The following are a few of the thoughts and perspectives that you may want to consider in your planning or conversations with your business partners....More
  • Dec 31, 2014
    blog

    Will the funds continue to place bullish bets on corn, soybeans?

    As a producer, I continue to hold out for slightly higher corn prices before pulling the trigger on additional sales. From a spec perspective, I prefer being a longer-term buyer on a deeper break. And I am sticking with the thought that higher soybean prices might be in our near-term future....More
  • Dec 29, 2014
    blog

    Why climate deniers? 17

    My science brain is just plain confused. And I can’t wrap my head around the recent farmer survey that shows 31% of 4,778 farmers surveyed believe there isn’t sufficient evidence that climate change is occurring....More
  • Dec 23, 2014
    blog

    2014 in the rearview mirror: ag economy, technology, farm management

    The year 2014 has truly been a time of transition for the agricultural industry and rural areas. While challenging, there will be more opportunities to succeed in agriculture in the next decade than the last 30 years, but there will also be more opportunities to fail. A game plan including resiliency and agility will be the themes for 2015 and beyond for those moving to a higher level of management in the industry of agriculture....More
  • Dec 16, 2014
    blog

    Strategies for managing profit in agriculture during a down cycle

    The reality has set in that grain prices, cash flow and profit margins will be modest at best. Whether this part of the cycle correction will be one, two, or even five years or more in duration, farmers and their lenders will have to manage through these economic white waters....More
  • Dec 15, 2014
    blog

    Why I believe corn, soybean prices will move higher 1

    When you get major "headline-risk" like we are seeing in the energy markets, coupled with lower than normal trade volume, all bets are off in regard to traditional fundamental rhyme and reason....More
  • Dec 9, 2014
    blog

    Agriculture financial management: Working capital burn rate

    If your working capital burn rate is less than one year, it would be considered high risk. Above 3.5 years is indicative of a strong second line of defense and of course, between one and 3.5 years would be considered acceptable, but not stellar. To say the least, this winter and next year will be a balancing act as farmers juggle quickly converting liquid assets to cash to keep their businesses in operation....More
  • Dec 9, 2014
    blog

    Fine tune 2015 profit margins for your farm: Land rental rates, production expenses

    The combination of lower projected corn prices and soybean prices in 2015, together with nearly steady input costs for seed, fertilizer, and chemicals, will limit estimated potential returns over direct expenses and land costs, at average crop yields. Another major variable in breakeven levels in crop production are loan payments on capital investments such as farm machinery, facilities and land purchases....More
  • Dec 5, 2014
    blog

    Will soybean demand push stocks lower?

    Soybeans enjoyed another week of better-than-expected export sales. In its wake the trade continues to believe the USDA will soon be forced to raise their current export estimates by 25 to 50 million. Hopefully we see this take place next Wednesday in the upcoming December USDA report....More
  • Dec 2, 2014
    blog

    Finalizing custom rates for 2014

    An analysis of some of the more common custom rates in the 2014 Iowa Custom Rate Survey showed that the listed “average” custom rates for some farming practices may be a bit low, given the higher ownership costs of larger farm machinery, higher fuel expenses that have existed in 2014, and the difficult field conditions that existed in some areas....More
  • Dec 2, 2014
    blog

    What happens when repayment fails?

    Throughout the country many lenders and producers dealing with the grain industry may face situations when repayment is not possible this winter and into 2015. With high cash rents and leases, along with input cost creep, there is a strong possibility that 2014 and 2015 may not cash flow and may show negative repayment capacity for many grain producers. Now what?...More
  • Nov 25, 2014
    blog

    Repayment risk in a variable economic environment

    Lessons from the past find that the stress point in business financials is repayment capacity given debt service commitments. Repayment capacity and the management factors that influence it should be front and center in many farmers’ game plans....More
  • Nov 20, 2014
    blog

    Be #thankful4ag!

    This month in particular, let's all be #thankful4ag. In doing so, go to thankful4ag.com, a cool website set up by Bayer CropScience. There, you can create a virtual holiday meal, learn some neat agriculture facts, and, the best part, help donate meals to those in need....More
  • Nov 18, 2014
    blog

    5 Characteristics of profitable farmers

    The grain industry is taking a body blow punch as prices have moderated over the year. If the lower prices continue into 2015 and beyond, there will be a “punch in the mouth” which will disrupt many producers’ strategic planning in the middle and later parts of the decade. A certain set of producers will still be profitable in the economic moderation. Let’s examine some of their characteristics....More

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