The H5N2 virus, also known as bird flu, has infected nearly 8 million commercially raised chickens and turkeys in 13 states, according to the USDA. The current impact is believed to be only the beginning of what could be a devastating blow to the poultry industry. Jeffrey Ettinger CEO of Hormel, the second largest turkey processor in the U.S., said Monday that the disease will cause “tight meat supplies and operational challenges that will pressure earnings in the back half of our fiscal year," for their turkey business. The disease is believed to have been spread by wild waterfowl migrating across the bearing sea from Asia.

POW 3-24-15

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U.S. wheat sales increased to their highest point in six weeks, rebounding from last week’s marketing year low. Corn sales also increased to their highest level in seven weeks, although soybeans sales declined this past week. Wheat exports increased for the third consecutive week, reaching their highest level since October 2014. Corn exports also increased, but soybeans decreased to their second lowest level this marketing year.

Avian bird flu has arrived in full force in the U.S. infecting millions of birds. Iowa reported 5.3 million hens were “destroyed” after it was confirmed the flock was infected, reported the Associated Press earlier this week. The Center for Disease Control is currently working on a creating a vaccine. ...continue reading

(FederalReserveBankofKansasCity) Loan volumes for almost all farming purposes rose at commercial banks, as many producers contended with tighter profit margins. Persistently low crop prices and elevated input costs continued to increase farmers’ short-term financing needs. High prices for feeder cattle further boosted loan volumes in the livestock sector. Agricultural input costs were expected to decline in 2015, but cash receipts were expected to drop further, keeping profit margins tight for many producers.

Lower farm incomes kept loan demand strong throughout the Federal Reserve Districts surveyed, while loan repayment rates were slightly weaker. Despite reduced farm incomes and increased debt outstanding, loan delinquency rates declined, and profits increased slightly at most agricultural banks. Lower farm incomes also affected farmland values, but the changes varied widely among states. Farmland values in crop-intensive states decreased slightly, while demand strengthened for good-quality farmland and ranchland in states more concentrated in livestock production or with wealth generated from other sources, such as oil and natural gas exploration.  ...continue reading

(Bloomberg) With Argentina mired in default and plagued by a swelling deficit, the nation’s record soybean harvest couldn’t come at a better time.

There’s just one problem: Farmers won’t let the government get its hands on it.

Growers in the South American country, the world’s biggest producer of the oilseed after the U.S. and Brazil, are holding onto an estimated $2 billion of soybeans on a bet the winner of presidential elections in October will devalue the peso, boosting the value of their exports. They’ve cut shipments by 30 percent this year versus the same period in 2014. ...continue reading

Article 4-20-15

(Bloomberg) A growing demand for organics, and the near-total reliance by U.S. farmers on genetically modified corn and soybeans, is driving a surge in imports from other nations where crops largely are free of bioengineering.

Imports such as corn from Romania and soybeans from India are booming, according to an analysis of U.S. trade data released Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association and Pennsylvania State University.

That shows a potential market for U.S. growers willing to avoid the use of artificial chemicals and genetically modified seeds, said Laura Batcha, chief executive officer of the association, which includes Whole Foods Market Inc., Whitewave Foods Co. and Earthbound Farm LLC. ...continue reading

Farmers took full advantage of the dry weather in April to get a strong start on planting, especially in the Upper Midwest. Corn Belt states reported better progress than last year, but most remain behind their five-year averages. Winter wheat is developing well as 42% of the crop is rated “Excellent” or “Good,” an 8% increase from last year at this time.

The USDA estimated 9% of corn acres were planted across the U.S. as of April 19th, a 7% increase from the prior week, but 4% less than the fiver-year average. Of the five largest corn producing states in the U.S., Illinois reported the highest level of completion at 15%, followed by Minnesota at 12%. Indiana was the lowest of the five states, reporting only 1% of acres planted. Below average precipitation this spring has allowed operators to get into their fields much earlier than the past two years. The shortened post-harvest period in 2014 left farmers with more field work to do in the spring, making up for time lost late last fall. ...continue reading

Rural bankers remain pessimistic about their local economy, primarily due to the strong U.S. dollar that continues to hamper domestic crops sales on the global market. Respondents in this month’s survey suggested farmland prices were declining more quickly than in past months, although when asked about local cash rent values, bankers reported a 6% increase from rents reported in January.

The Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI), an index which ranges from 0 to 100 with 50.0 representing growth neutral, increased in the April report to 46.0, from 43.6 in March. Ernie Goss, Ph.D, Economics Professor at Creighton University stated, “The stronger U.S. dollar continues to be a drag on the Rural Mainstreet economy.” 34% of bankers described the impact of the strong U.S. dollar as “Negative,” with the remainder describing the impact as “Little or small,” ...continue reading

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.

POW 4-17-15 (640x480)

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(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