Category: Livestock

21 Feb 2022

Funding Food To Feed The World

How Financial Institutions and Insurance Companies Play an Essential Role in Feeding the World

The cost of farming has grown over the years, which means financial institutions are amping up their reviewal process for loans and increasing insurance deductibles for protection to reduce their loss risk. What does this mean to supporting food production for the world? Well, as part of our “What It Takes To Feed The World” series, we are diving into critical agriculture sectors and bringing awareness to their roles in the food production cycle.

Financial institutions and insurance companies are the starting point in the process and are essential in providing the necessary funds to farmers on through to commercial entities. For farmers, they help finance EVERYTHING from the seed and chemical to hedge lines for farmers to help manage their price risk and everything in between. For commercial and end user entities, financing includes loans to build and maintain infrastructure and logistics to short term bridge loans to buy directly from farmers on to their own hedge lines of credit to support carrying of positions both pre and post harvest.

What financial and insurance options are available to the agriculture industry, and how are they beneficial to farmers, commercials, and end users? We’ll discuss the answers to these questions and more below.


Farmer Direct Loans

Farm direct loans are loans that the government makes available via the Farm Service Agency, while banks provide similar farmer direct loans. In 2021 the FSA reported loan obligations of $6.67 billion. Meanwhile, in 2020, U.S. farm banks loaned $98.6 billion. The American Bankers Association defines farm banks as banks whose ratio of domestic farm loans to total domestic loans is greater than or equal to the industry average. These amounts show just how much money is needed to produce the U.S. crop each year before farmers even harvest and sell the crop. These loans range from rent payments to fertilizer costs to machinery. But farm banks aren’t just offering loans to the agriculture sector. In 2020 total bank lending reached $174 billion in farm and ranch loans (including the $98.6 billion). These banks play a significant role with billions in small farm loans and even microloans. Small farm loans are less than $500,000, and microloans are less than $100,000. These two categories alone totaled over $55 billion in 2020.


Hedge Margin Lines

Banks also help finance hedge margin lines to help farmers manage their price risk. By financing the hedge lines, banks allow farmers to place hedge positions in a brokerage account, protecting against adverse price movements that could lessen the value of their crop. When banks loan out money, they expect to be paid back; hedge credit lines are a tool banks use to help support the farmer being able to do so.  If your bank is NOT willing to extend a hedge line – please give us call!

By financing hedge margin lines, banks support the farmer and themselves. With loans comes default risk and hedging is one tool to help mitigate the price risk that ultimately will be how the farmer pays back the loan.


Banks and the Rest of the Sector

There’s no question that banks are involved in the food production supply chain. When you think about it, commercials, end-users, and other units that touch grain utilize bank loans to enhance their businesses. Like feed yards and elevators, end-users use banks to improve their infrastructure by adding more storage or drying systems, using short-term loans to purchase grain and make other improvements to their business. These improvements ultimately improve the efficiency of the entire system and potentially lead to  reduced costs of the final product, which helps the end consumer, people. Just like improvements to city and towns infrastructure are necessary, through the support of bank financing, these improvements are necessary to the health of the agriculture industry’s infrastructure.

Farming is not getting any cheaper, and more capital is required to produce excellent crops year after year. Banks’ loaning capacities play a major role already, but if we are going to keep up with growing demand in a growing world, their role will be even more critical going forward.


Crop Insurance

Crop insurance brings continuity to the industry year-over-year as the ups and downs of weather and prices can cost farmers millions of dollars if unprotected. There are two types of insurance for major field crops: yield-based, which pays an indemnity (covers losses) for low yields, and revenue that ensures a level of crop income based on yields and prices.

Insurance offerings and prices vary on where you are located and your land, but like other forms of insurance in your life, it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. While the listed above are the main types of insurance, others can be purchased, like drought insurance for pastureland and hail insurance if your crop gets damaged by an ice storm. These are more specific to your geographic location but play an essential role.

Like banks, insurance companies help with the continuity of the agriculture sector. These companies along with government subsidy programs, provide the opportunity to continue farming when disaster strikes and threatens the financial stability of a farm.


How RCM Ag Services Partners Financial Institutions & Insurance Companies

For our Farmer Direct customers, RCM Ag Services partners with banks and insurance companies to provide our mutual customers daily expert market knowledge and advice. We are firm believers that the long term health and growth of our local farming communities requires a team approach that starts with the farmers and their banking and insurance teams.

For our commercial and end user customers, we are focused on evaluating profit margins and the cost of capital for managing the current and futures market risks.  Our Ag Services team is working directly with lenders, 3rd party credit suppliers, as well as USDA government programs to support the long-term financial health of the commercial business sector.

Along with market knowledge, our brokerage services allow us to establish hedge accounts that banks can fund with a credit line, as discussed above. Our brokers have over 150 years of combined experience in the market that helps them provide hedge advice that is customized to each operation, not cookie-cutter advice. Take advantage of these benefits and call one of our knowledgeable ag specialists today at 888-875-2110 or email [email protected]


03 Feb 2022


As of 2022, there are 7.9 billion people in the world, which is anticipated to hit 10 billion by 2050

Did you know that by 2050, the world is expected to feed almost 2 billion more people than we do today? As the global population continuously rises, a significant amount of food will need to be produced over the next 30 years.

But before you get to overwhelmed with that thought, it’s imperative to know that the need for more production creates opportunities. In fact, in 2020 alone, 19.7 million jobs were related to the agriculture and food sectors. We cover these areas in this What It Takes To Feed the World infographic. So, let’s take a closer look into how each of these categories work together to help pave the way to feeding 25% more of the population over the next couple of years. Here’s everything you’ll need to know:


Download the Infographic


Due to inflation (we cover farm inflation here) and superior advancements in farming technology (seed, equipment, etc.), the cost of doing business is extraordinary.

As a result, banks and other financial institutions have become the pillar of the agriculture community. From financing farmers, purchase of seeds and chemicals to providing insurance to protect the farmers on through to commercial lending and trade finance programs; without banks, agriculture, as we know it today, does not exist. As a standalone example, consider that in the U.S. alone, during 2020, farm bank’ lending was $98.6 billion despite the global economic slowdown. As the demand to produce continues to grow, there is minimal question that the need for capital will grow along with it.

Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation & American Bankers Association Analysis



Before the farmers can get to work, they need seeds and, subsequently, fertilizers (watch our fertilizer forecast here) to reach the full potential of every acre of land. From the genetics to the production to the distribution companies, one could argue that continued innovation of this industry is vital to the future of agriculture.

In 2020, the commercial seed market alone reached an estimated $44.9 billion in annual revenue. With the global pressure on to produce, the world can no longer afford to have underperforming years of production, placing even more pressure on this sub-sector of agriculture to continue to develop treatments on both the organic and GMO sides (watch The Future of Feeding the World Podcast here).

Source: IHS Markit – @2021 IHS Markit


With the growing demand for food-producing land due to the world’s growing population, advances in technology have seamlessly made the farming process more efficient, profitable, and undoubtfully safer. Modern farms and agriculture equipment have significantly evolved by incorporating sophisticated technologies like sensors and GPS to driverless equipment with new autonomous machinery.

These enhancements to heavy equipment are essential to farmers, allowing them to no longer apply certain things uniformly, like fertilizing or watering the field. But instead, farmers can use minimal effort to target specific areas of their fields. Let’s look at some of these added benefits due to technology:

  • Farmers have higher crop productivity.
  • There is a reduction in the overuse of water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
  • The price of food production is at a lower rate due to less manual labor.
  • Improves the safety of farmworkers and machine operators due by incorporating the use of drones and various software. Check out this podcast with Dr. Steve Irwin on technical platforms here.
  • Groundwater and rivers are experiencing less runoff of chemicals.

Undoubtedly, innovation of this business sector will continue to evolve and play a major role in the necessary production increases ahead.


One hundred fifty years ago, work was hard for grain producers, but the job was simple – till the land, plant the seed and let mother nature do her job. As time passed and our global population grew and the demand for our arable land has grown exponentially; all of which, leads to the grain producers of today having the most important job in the world.

The work of the few is to feed the many. Since the post-WWII era, the number of farms has steadily been reducing, placing even greater pressure on those in production areas to continue managing their operations, focusing on profit margins, and working the inherently volatile world of commodity prices.

Imagine a 5,000-acre farm producing trendline yield corn of 180 bushels per acre. Quick raw math based on today’s price per bushel of $6.00 puts gross revenue at 5.4 Million dollars. Noting the rapidly rising costs of inputs (seed and chemical), labor and energy prices, a return to August 2020 prices of $3 would be a massive hit and likely take down such an operation.

All of this is to say that today’s job requires greater collaboration with others in the business than ever before (see section below on intermediaries and risk management).



Commodity markets are highly unique in that both end-users and physical producers of a product can proactively buy and sell their input and or production in an open market before being produced via a forward contract or hedge.

To hedge is to manage risk and, in most cases, lock in or protect the profits margins. As discussed above, grain production is a highly volatile business, just like the purchase side (see end-users and commercials below).

Through intermediaries and risk management experts, farmers and end-users gain timely market information, access to markets, and ultimately execute the majority of their forward pricing. Whether through the use of futures, options, swaps, or even physical contracts developing and coordinating a risk management plan is essential to the long-term health of our global commodity infrastructure.

The CME Group is the world-leading commodity exchange, and their global branding says it best – “CME Group, where the world comes to manage risk.”

RCM Ag Services also falls into this category. We provide full-service risk management and advisory solutions to our local area producers and commercial agriculture operations around the globe.


COVID introduced unexpected stresses on global food systems, creating many immediate and rapid challenges to secure food availability. If a worldwide pandemic taught us anything, we know that supply chain management and transportation play a vital role within the agriculture industry. Agriculture logistics ensure that items like food, machinery, and livestock from all over the world are transported with a continuous, optimal flow from the manufacturers and suppliers to the producers and ultimately delivered to consumers.

Some of the most imperative agriculture supply chain and logistics management activities include production, acquisition, storage, handling, transportation, and distribution. Effective logistics is critical for guaranteeing customer satisfaction and meeting demands on time with high-quality products. In addition, logistics should also meet specific standards and operational objectives for efficiency in agriculture policies like:

  • Protection of the environment
  • Sustainable distribution practices
  • Food safety and security
  • Animal welfare (for transporting livestock)

With the growing population largely expected in developing countries, most of which have poor infrastructure, we can expect the need for massive investments into transportation and logistics operations in the years ahead (this is NOT a stock tip!).



The penultimate step of the process is grain reaching a commercial elevator before going on to the end-user to be converted to a final product. Some producers deliver straight to the end-user in areas where that is an option.

Traditionally, commercial elevators accept farmers’ grain and then ship it to the end-user, either by rail, barge, or other means.

With the continued upward trends of production, it is no surprise, that grain storage capacity has consistently grown.  In fact, it is on pace with increases in crop production over the last 20 years and by all accounts is likely to continue to grow.

Source: Farmdocdaily

Along with the enormous capacity, commercials and end users also carry a tremendous amount of of price / volatility risk requiring a proactive and disciplined risk management approach to maximize the margins of their operation and keep the system moving forward.

In 2018, $139.6 billion worth of American agricultural products were exported worldwide, with elevators playing a significant role in that process. The commercials and end-users are essential for getting the product from the farm into your home on the table.



Bringing awareness to how the agriculture industry is vital to feeding the rapidly growing world is pivotal as we continue to face unprecedented challenges in global food security. However, there is a silver lining. We already know what must be done; it is figuring out how to do it that could be problematic. The world must unite and understand that each of these areas highlighted in the infographic is very complex, employs millions of people worldwide, and is vital to the growth of the agriculture industry as well as producing the necessary food for the future.

Download the Infographic


Whether you’re a producer, end-user, commercial operator, RCM AG Services helps protect revenues and control costs through its suite of hedging tools and network of buyers/sellers — Contact us today to speak with an ag specialist at 888-875-2110!

30 Apr 2021

AG Market Update: April 24-30

Volatility was the name of the game this week as many days saw wide trading ranges on both sides of unchanged. Looking at the chart below you can just how wide ranges the last few days have been.  Despite the volatlity, the May contract settled squarely within the range as of Thursday.  This volatility came about as we’ve faced a short squeeze on the front month May contract.  Coming into the week, there were nearly 200,000 open contracts, as of this morning there are only 12,500 – presumably many were on the short side and needed to cover.

Regardless of what has caused the rally – higher prices is GREAT for the American Farmer!

For the July contract and new crop Dec, the markets followed the May higher this week and most April as South America’s struggles with drought conditions begin to be seen in yield estimates.  Any rain after May 10th probably won’t be able to add must help this late in the game. As expected, exports were good this week but that has become the new normal. The epanded limits coming next week along with higher prices means we should probably expect volatility to hang around.

Via Barchart

Soybeans had small gains on the week as they also traded in wide ranges in the May contract in addition to future months. The short squeeze has end users scrambling with physical delivery coming up. Along with beans rallying, we have seen basis improve in many areas as buyers try get what is left out of farmers bins. A growing consensus among traders is that continued strong US cash bids indicate that the stock numbers are lower than the USDA reports.  Will the USDA adjust in the June report is a major question?  Bean meal and oil have also rallied in the past couple weeks aiding to soybeans rise. The fundamental news around the market was less in focus this week with the May contract expiration causing for most of the volatility.

Via Barchart

Dow Jones

The Dow was up slightly on the week as more news about reopenings continue to roll in and President Biden gave his first speech to Congress. Vaccination rates continue to be strong in many cities and New York City announced this week they will lift all restrictions for reopening July 1st.


Check out our recent post about the lumber market and what all has been going on.


Check out or recent podcasts with guests Elaine Kub and Kyle Little. Elaine and Jeff discuss grain markets and trading grains while Kyle helps give insight into the Lumber markets and what has been going on.


Other News

On Monday, daily trading limits will expand for our major markets with corn increased from 25 cents to 40 cents, beans from 70 to $1.00 and wheat from 40 to 45.  The CBOT is not tipping their hand that they expect volatility this summer, the daily limit increases are largely due to the high prices to keep daily ranges in line with historic percentages of price.


US Drought Monitor

The map below shows what areas are currently experiencing drought conditions across the US. Not much changed from last week. The rains in Texas will help alleviate some dryness in the area but will not solve their moisture issues. Some dryness has crept into Illinois and Indiana but nothing to worry about right now.


Weekly prices


22 Feb 2021

2021 Ag Markets Outlook

2020 was a notably difficult year for commodities – oil went negative, coronavirus halted trade and decreased demand, and overall turmoil in the markets sent investors fleeing. Though the first quarter was rough, commodities did their best to rally in the last three quarters of the year and did so as well as they could. So, what of 2021? Are we going to see major rallies in the grain markets with dry weather and Chinese consumption? What about the cotton markets? Are we looking for a steady year or will cotton continue to trend down?

Because there’s so much to talk about, we’ve broken this episode down into two parts:

Part I: Cotton & Grains
In the first part, we’re joined by our Cotton expert – Ron Lawson, and our Grains expert – Jody Lawrence to talk about the outlook for these markets into 2021.

Part I Links:


Part II: Meats
In part II, we’re talking meats with our in-house meat specialists Tom Chaves and Kevin Bost.

Part II Links:

21 Jan 2021

Ag Markets Update: January USDA Report

In this monthly segment on The Hedged Edge, RCM Ag Services pros Jody Lawrence, Ron Lawson, Kevin Bost, and host Jeff Eizenberg come together to provide expert knowledge on important markets including cotton, meat, and grains following the USDA Report. Watch the whole episode below!


If you’d rather listen – click on the links below to find your preferred platform: