Spring is finally here, knock on wood, and farmers are out in the fields preparing for planting. Weather conditions have been quite different this year compared to the last couple years. Warm and dry weather has replaced cold and wet weather allowing farmers to get a head start on last year’s progress.

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Remember, we are always looking for agricultural pictures or videos from anywhere in the world. Submit your picture or videos to farmlandforecast@colvin-co.com

(WSJ) U.S. grain-trading company Bunge Ltd. is teaming up with a Saudi Arabian firm to expand in Canada’s agriculture sector by buying a majority stake in the former Canadian wheat monopoly.

The Canadian units of Bunge and Saudi Agricultural & Livestock Investment Co. on Wednesday said they struck a deal to acquire a 50.1% stake in the Canadian Wheat Board for 250 million Canadian dollars ($200.2 million).

The companies said they have created a joint venture, G3 Global Grain Group, to hold the investment. The minority ownership stake in the grain-handling and trading company will be held in trust “for the benefit of farmers,” G3 said in a statement. ...continue reading

(Bloomberg) Ag Growth International Inc.’s slide from a record high is a buying opportunity say analysts who forecast the grain-equipment maker’s purchase of a competitor will help it profit from surging North American harvests.

Shares of the Winnipeg-based company have fallen 13 percent since reaching a record on March 11, the most among its six North American peers, after fourth-quarter earnings disappointed investors. Analysts looking 12 months ahead say its stock should be 19 percent higher.

“Given the pullback we saw in the last little while, I’m saying for sure this is the time to buy,” Spencer Churchill, an analyst at Paradigm Capital Inc. in Toronto, said last week by phone. He cited the company’s acquisition in November of Winnipeg-based Westeel, Canada’s largest manufacturer of grain storage bins, as a primary reason. ...continue reading

(WSJ) Perhaps the only issue on which Bay Area liberals and conservatives down California’s coastline agree is that farmers use too much water and should be rationed. The fortunate in Silicon Valley and Marin County need a tutorial in Golden State water allocation.

According to the fable of the prodigal farmer spun by environmentalists, farmers are producing too many water-intensive crops and over-pumping groundwater. Big Agriculture is said to have negotiated dirt cheap water rates with the government that are subsidized by city dwellers and suburbanites. As a purportedly even greater injustice, Governor Jerry Brown’s new mandate to cut statewide water usage by 25% exempts farmers. ...continue reading

(Reuters) Actual farmland prices in Kansas, the top U.S. wheat state, generally run far higher than values shown from surveys of farmland owners conducted by the U.S. Agriculture Department, according to a study by a Kansas State University economist.

The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service (KASS), a USDA department, surveys farmers and landowners annually for their estimates of the market value of crop or pasture land they own. Taylor compared those averages with actual county land sales data from the Kansas Property Valuation Department (PVD) from 2010 through 2014.

Farmland prices are closely watched by U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers, bankers and farm suppliers since land is the basic collateral for most farm loans. ...continue reading

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) has caused some significant changes in the pork industry. First discovered in the U.S. in 2013, the disease was controlled well until 2014 when a mutation of the virus began spreading throughout the U.S. The virus causes an infection of the lining of the small intestine causing diarrhea and dehydration. The disease caused many piglets to die due to dehydration and forced many farmers to reevaluate the handling and transportation of their livestock.

The picture below was taken during a recent tour of Flaherty Farms operation near Pocahontas, Iowa. It is suggested that diseases are most often spread during the transportation of livestock; in order to prevent the spread Flaherty Farm’s has their drivers wash out there trailers before and after every haul.

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Remember, we are always looking for agricultural pictures or videos from anywhere in the world. Submit your picture or videos to farmlandforecast@colvin-co.com

The USDA increased U.S. corn ending stocks to reflect the decrease in domestic demand reported in the March 1 Grain Stocks report. Today's supply and demand report was a reflection of the stocks report released last week but gives some insight to what the USDA believes will happen as we move into the new crop season.

Soybean ending stocks were adjusted downward from the March report from 385 million bushels to 370 million bushels. Digging deeper into historical supply and demand for U.S. soybeans there should have been a much larger reduction in ending stocks. DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom has been a long time critic of the USDA's soybean estimates and explains the discrepancy, "Given USDA's March 1 quarterly stocks figure of 1.333 billion bushels, and using reduced second-half demand similar to what was seen in both 2012/13 and 2013/14, DTN analysis would project domestic ending stocks closer to 300 million bushels. If second-half demand comes in near normal, U.S. ending stocks would be closer to 100 million bushels."

USDA's April supply and demand report will be the last to highlight the 2014/15 crop; next month's report marks the initial estimates for the 2015/16 crop. ...continue reading

(Reuters) Bracing for their leanest season in eight years, U.S. farmers are skimping on everything from machinery to fertilizers, betting that they can go down-market and yet maintain crop production and quality.

The belt-tightening has already squeezed sales of suppliers, and farming experts warn the gamble can backfire: less robust crop protection and less resilient seeds combined with some rough weather could hurt crops this year and beyond.

Jon Sparks, who farms 1,400 acres in eastern Indiana, is scrambling to cut costs wherever he can: buying cheaper seeds, using less fertilizer, and hoping his farm equipment will not break down this year. ...continue reading

(WSJ) Agribusiness giants are sowing their own venture-capital seeds.

Biotech seed producers Monsanto Co. and Bayer AG are among the companies that recently established or expanded investment units to fund new agricultural ventures. Asa wave of entrepreneurial vigor sweeps the Farm Belt, the companies want to ensure they don’t miss out on cutting-edge tools for food formulation and pest prevention, the companies say.

Geoff Kneen, head of North America new ventures for Bayer’s agriculture unit, said the company sees venture-capital investing as a means to adapt innovation from aerospace and other sectors that could help harness huge quantities of newly available data about food production. ...continue reading

(WSJ) New technologies that promise to change how food is grown, transported and sold are attracting increased interest from the kinds of investors that have fueled Silicon Valley powerhouses.

The money involved in U.S. food startups is still small compared with Internet companies. But venture-capital investment in agriculture and food soared 54% to $486 million last year, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.

Big agribusinesses have launched their own VC initiatives, and investment managers have raised funds dedicated to food and agriculture technology. New York-based private-equity firm Paine & Partners, for instance, raised $893 million in January for investments in boosting productivity in areas like protein production and food safety, according to its president, Kevin Schwartz. ...continue reading