Category: Meats

28 Jun 2023

RCM Ag Services’ Top 5 Takeaways from @ChiGrl Live Ag Talk on Place Your Trades

Recently, we had the opportunity to tune in to the captivating podcast episode of @ChiGrl Live Ag Talk on Place Your Trades. The discussion covered various topics impacting the agricultural industry, and we at RCM Ag Services were inspired by the valuable insights shared. Here are our top five takeaways and what they mean for you.

Takeaway 1: Conflict Between EU and Dutch Government: Implications for Farmers

The conflict between the European Union and the Dutch government has significant implications for farmers in the Netherlands. Dutch farmers are vital to the country’s economy and food production, but they face challenges due to the EU’s regulations aimed at environmental sustainability, food safety, and fair competition.

Farmers are concerned about the financial burden of complying with EU regulations, which can require investments in technology and training. This can increase costs and impact their profitability. Compliance may also restrict their autonomy and traditional farming methods.

The conflict raises questions about the competitiveness of Dutch farmers within the EU market. Protecting and supporting farmers could be seen as creating unfair advantages, while prioritizing EU compliance may risk their economic viability.

To address these concerns, constructive dialogue between the EU and the Dutch government is necessary. Government support through financial assistance, incentives, and technical guidance can help farmers transition to more sustainable practices. Finding a balance between sustainable farming and farmers’ economic well-being is crucial.

Takeaway 2: Germany’s Ambitious Organic Farming Goal: A Sustainable Approach

To truly comprehend the implications of Germany’s ambitious plan to reach 30% organic farming by 2030, it is essential to delve into the multifaceted elements contributing to its success. Central to this exploration is an understanding of the role played by government support, incentives, and infrastructure in realizing this transformative vision.

Government support is a crucial driver in facilitating the transition to organic farming.

By examining the effectiveness of existing programs, we can gain insights into the policies and initiatives put in place to encourage farmers to adopt organic practices. This analysis can shed light on the financial and technical assistance provided to farmers, such as grants, subsidies, and access to expertise and resources. Understanding the extent of government support allows us to gauge the magnitude of the commitment and the resources allocated to facilitate this transition.

Incentives are also pivotal in motivating farmers to embrace organic farming methods. By investigating the range of incentives available, such as premium pricing for organic produce, tax incentives, and preferential market access, we can assess their effectiveness in encouraging farmers to switch. Exploring the incentives landscape helps us gauge the level of support and recognition organic farmers receive, influencing their decision to adopt organic practices.

Infrastructure development is another critical aspect that underpins the successful implementation of Germany’s organic farming goal. Establishing robust markets and distribution networks for organic products is essential to ensure a steady demand and supply chain. Analyzing the development of these networks, including the involvement of retailers, processors, and certification bodies, provides insights into the growth potential of the organic market. Understanding how the infrastructure is evolving enables us to identify potential gaps or areas that require further development to support the expansion of organic farming.

By unraveling these key aspects—government support, incentives, and infrastructure—we gain valuable insights into Germany’s journey toward cultivating a greener and more sustainable agricultural landscape. This holistic examination allows us to appreciate the challenges, opportunities, and potential pathways for success in achieving the ambitious target of 30% organic farming. It also offers valuable lessons and inspiration for other countries and stakeholders looking to foster sustainable agricultural practices and contribute to a more environmentally conscious future.

Takeaway 3: Reducing Methane in Farming: Goals and Strategies

The United States is committed to addressing methane emissions in farming to fight climate change. However, there are challenges farmers face in adopting methane reduction technologies.

One challenge is the cost, as these technologies require significant investments in equipment and infrastructure. This can be particularly burdensome for smaller-scale and resource-constrained farms. Lack of financial resources makes it difficult for farmers to adopt these technologies, despite recognizing their environmental benefits.

Another challenge is the technical requirements and maintenance of methane reduction systems. Farmers need to understand the technology and its installation, operation, and upkeep. However, specialized knowledge and training may not always be accessible. Regular maintenance and troubleshooting can also be challenging for farmers with limited technical expertise or resources.

To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to explore the economic and environmental benefits of methane reduction in farming. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and air pollution. By reducing methane emissions, farmers can improve air quality and save costs in the long run by improving operational efficiency.

Government policies and support are essential for widespread adoption of methane reduction practices. Financial incentives like grants or subsidies can assist farmers in implementing methane capture and mitigation systems. Technical assistance programs and knowledge-sharing platforms are vital in helping farmers navigate the complexities of adopting these technologies.

Evaluating existing policies and support mechanisms is important to identify successful strategies and areas for improvement. By studying the effectiveness of current initiatives, policymakers can refine their approaches and develop targeted solutions. Collaboration among government agencies, agricultural organizations, and researchers can foster innovation and develop best practices for methane reduction in farming.

Takeaway 4: Government Support for Biofuels: Impact on Agriculture and Energy Sectors

Governments in Canada and the United States are actively promoting biofuels as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Let’s explore the benefits and drawbacks associated with these renewable fuels to gain a comprehensive understanding of this government push.

Biofuels offer environmental and energy security benefits. They can reduce greenhouse gas emissions since they are derived from renewable sources that absorb carbon dioxide during their growth. When biofuels are burned, they release roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide absorbed during production, resulting in a near-neutral impact on emissions. Replacing fossil fuels with biofuels can make significant progress in mitigating climate change.

Biofuels also have the potential to decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels. Producing biofuels domestically using local feedstocks enhances energy security by reducing reliance on foreign oil and gas. This can create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and benefit rural areas where feedstocks are produced.

However, it’s important to address potential drawbacks and challenges. Competition for agricultural land is a concern, as biofuel production requires significant land use. This can lead to conflicts between biofuel feedstock crops and food crops. Careful management is necessary to balance biofuel and food production, avoiding deforestation and biodiversity decline while ensuring food security.

Water usage is another consideration, as some biofuel feedstocks require substantial amounts of water. Expanding biofuel production could strain water resources and exacerbate water scarcity. Sustainable water management practices and water-efficient feedstocks are important to mitigate these concerns.

The potential impact on food prices is a valid concern as well. If biofuel feedstocks compete with food crops, it can affect food availability and affordability, especially for vulnerable populations. Policies should ensure that biofuel production doesn’t negatively impact food security.

To promote the biofuel industry’s growth and viability, innovation is crucial. Research and development efforts focus on improving feedstock development, including non-food crops and algae, to reduce competition with food crops and increase yields. Advancements in processing technologies can also contribute to sustainability and cost-effectiveness. Continued investment in research, along with supportive policies and incentives, can drive further innovation in the biofuel sector.

Takeaway 5: Technology’s Role in Future Farming: Precision, Automation, and Sustainability

The episode highlighted technology’s crucial role in shaping the future of farming. Integrating technology into farming practices comes with challenges and barriers that need to be understood.

One challenge is the cost of adopting farming technology. Precision agriculture tools and automated systems require significant upfront investments. Farmers must assess the long-term benefits against the initial costs and ensure the financial feasibility of implementing these technologies.

Accessibility is another consideration. Not all farmers have equal access to technology, especially in rural or developing areas. Addressing infrastructure, connectivity, and technological literacy issues is important to ensure inclusive technology adoption that benefits all farmers.

Proper training and support are crucial for successful technology integration. Farmers need to acquire the skills and knowledge to effectively use and maintain the technology they adopt. Training programs and workshops can bridge the knowledge gap and empower farmers in utilizing available technological tools.

Ongoing technical support is vital to address any implementation or operational challenges that may arise. Access to reliable assistance and troubleshooting resources ensures a smooth transition and minimizes disruptions to farming operations.

Precision agriculture techniques, automation, and artificial intelligence applications offer benefits such as optimized resource use, improved yields, and reduced environmental impacts. Real-time monitoring, disease management, efficient irrigation, and waste reduction are some of the advantages technology brings to the agricultural industry. By harnessing technology, farmers can enhance profitability while reducing their environmental footprint.

Supporting Farmers and Industry Professionals in the Ever-Evolving Agricultural Sector: Discover the Expertise and Tailored Solutions of RCM Ag Services

RCM Ag Services is committed to supporting farmers and industry professionals navigate these complex agricultural landscapes. Our team of experts is well-versed in the latest trends, regulations, and technologies impacting the industry. We provide various services, including consulting, risk management, and financial solutions tailored to your specific needs.

If you’d like to learn more about how RCM Ag Services can assist you in optimizing your operations and staying ahead in the dynamic agricultural sector, schedule a call with our team here. Together, we can explore strategies to help you thrive in an ever-evolving industry.

Don’t forget to check out the full episode of @ChiGrl Live Ag Talk on Place Your Trade for an in-depth discussion on these critical agricultural topics. You can find the episode on their Twitter page here:

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!

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:

17 Dec 2020

Ag Market Updates: December USDA/WASDE 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.

During today’s episode we’re talking about reporting back from farmers on the recent USDA report, labor shortfalls,  taxes and tariffs, commodity price inflation, adjusting planting intentions, feed prices affecting hog/cattle prices, calorie reports, corn vs beans,  and more from the report and looking towards the end of 2020.



Find the full episode links below:


04 Dec 2020

Risk Management, Research Writing, and International Protein with Simon Quilty

International meat trade (including Kangaroo!), years of writing and thousands of subscribers, risk management consulting and more – today’s guest really is a jack of all (ag) trades. Simon Quilty, global meat trader and analyst with Global Agritrends is on today’s podcast to take a deeper dive into his risk management background (with tips for operations of all sizes), the background on how he became one of the world’s leading researchers on international protein markets, and more crazy stories that fit his entertaining personality.

Follow along with Simon at the Global Agritrends website.

From the episode: Man punches a kangaroo in the face to rescue his dog


00:00-01:13 = Intro

01:13-11:53 = World Traveler, Lobbyist / From trading the physical to exploring China’s economy

11:54-36:36 = Potential for Ag Markets / China’s 2 speed economy & Hog pressure concerns

36:37-43:10 = Favorites


Find the full episodes here:

And last but not least, don’t forget to subscribe to The Hedged Edge on your preferred platform, and follow us on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook.

22 May 2020


Farmers in the Midwest are saying what we’re all thinking – “enough of the rain already!” There has been major rainfall, and even flooding, across most of the Midwest including Michigan, Illinois, and Southern Ohio over the past month, and without a drier outlook over the next week, there’s the potential for planting to be pushed back up against the “prevent plant deadline” in those states. Across the rest of the country, planting is still on a good pace and flat prices week-over-week show little news in the markets. Ethanol production ticked up last week but will need a much larger demand to use up the massive amounts in storage. With exports falling within expectations trade looks to remain calm as we head into Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer.

U.S. Soybean planting, like corn, has continued its good start in most areas except for North Dakota. Bean prices took a big hit on Thursday despite a 22-week high in sales of 1.205 MMT with 738k tonnes going to China. The possibility of increased political tensions as President Trump fired off more tweets criticizing China pulled the markets lower after a good week. Along with Australia’s wanting the WHO to investigate the origins of the coronavirus outbreak, Trump’s tweets are another thing in a long line of issues that could come between the U.S. and China’s phase 1 trade agreement.

(Food Business News)

Wheat has seen a boost this week as the Russian wheat crop yield appears similar to last year. The excess rain in parts of the US with SRW has lead to some worries about the crop and the possibility of worsening conditions. There has been a pickup in domestic demand as mills around the country are opening back up and demand ramps up. Keep an eye on Russian Wheat as another big cut to their yield would be supportive of U.S. wheat prices along with further weather problems domestically.

There’s been a lot going on in the meats sector – specifically when it comes to COVD-19 impacting American production plants.

COVID-19 has infiltrated America’s meatpacking plants causing them to slow processing speeds, or close all-together… Converting livestock into the cuts that get to your plate requires massive facilities, intensive labor, and working in tight quarters which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of a contagious disease. Without the ability to “socially distance”, thousands of plant workers have become ill, some have died, while many others are too afraid to go to work. The repercussions of the Covid-19-related plant disruptions will impact our food system for years to come. Once the smoke clears, owners of large meat packing plants may look to create smaller, regional facilities meaning consumers can expect higher prices, and fewer choices in the coming weeks and months.

Check out more short-term and long-term repercussions in the rest of our blog here.


CFAP Relief Package
The USDA came out with more information this week about the CFAP Relief Package. The CFAP had scheduled payment of 32 cents per bushel from the original CARES Act and a CCC payment of 35 cents per bushel on the lower of 50% of last year’s production or 50% of your unpriced corn on January 15th. That works out to potentially receiving 67 cents on half of last year’s corn crop. The soybeans payment works the same with payments of 45 cents and 50 cents for a potential payment of 95 cents per bushel on 50% of last year’s bean crop. The math is not clear nor why January 15th was chosen, but those are the guidelines. Livestock is also covered in the payment and information on that from the USDA website can be found here. Sign up starts next Tuesday the 26th at your local FSA office. For more information on how to sign up, check out this video.


14 May 2020

Where’s the beef? (& pork)

In 1984, Wendy’s debuted their iconic “Where’s the Beef?” commercial, starring Clara Peller as an old lady demanding more beef on her hamburger. Fast forward 36-years, and Wendy’s is once again asking, “Where’s the beef?”, but this time it’s about the literal beef…. Last week, a survey of online menus revealed 18% of the Wendy’s franchise listed beef items as out of stock – and if the largest fast food chains are being affected by lack of supply, what about your local stores?


The American meat industry is the envy of the world and has evolved over the past few decades into the most productive and efficient system in the world and because of that, consumers give little thought to how meat is produced until their abundant supplies of steaks, burgers and bacon are suddenly at risk. Unfortunately, the structure that delivers so much culinary and economic benefit to American consumers has proven vulnerable to a once in a life-time pandemic.

COVID-19 has infiltrated America’s meatpacking plants causing them to slow processing speeds, or close all-together, and logistically it makes sense. Converting livestock into the cuts that get to your plate requires massive facilities, intensive labor, and working in tight quarters which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to control the spread of a contagious disease. Without the ability to “socially distance”, thousands of plant workers have become ill, some have died, while many others are too afraid to go to work. The repercussions of the Covid-19-related plant disruptions will impact our food system for years to come. Once the smoke clears, owners of large meat packing plants may look to create smaller, regional facilities meaning consumers can expect higher prices, and fewer choices in the coming weeks and months.

Short-term Repercussions
In the short-term, slaughter rates have plunged; the number of cattle and hogs slaughtered weekly fell by as much as 40% compared with the same period last year before recovering modestly. For the week ending May 9, hog slaughter was 1,775,000, down from 2,332,000 last year. (USDA)


The sudden drop in slaughter punched a gaping hole in meat supplies which caught end-users off guard, as risk models could not have predicted the Covid-19 Black Swan event. Wholesale beef and pork prices skyrocketed as fast food chains and retailers scrambled to secure supplies: pork bellies priced near $30 cwt at the end of April, traded as much as 600% higher near $220 cwt, and 73% lean ground beef is up more than 330%. There’s no doubt substitution is occurring, but if you’re Wendy’s and your business is selling hamburgers, there is no substitution for ground beef – you either pay up or close your stores.


Long-Term Repercussions
The long-term impact on supplies is evolving. Plant disruptions are leaving a large number of producers without a destination for their livestock, leading to a steep drop in hog and cattle prices. Out of necessity, animals are being kept on feed longer, and fed slow-grow rations, but bottlenecks are backing up an extraordinary number of animals.

Out of sheer desperation, some farmers are being forced to destroy market-ready animals that have grown too large for modern slaughterhouses to manage. On-farm capacity is also a problem, because finished animals cannot be pushed through the processing system to make space for incoming feeder stock. In addition to putting down market ready animals, chaos in the supply chain is causing farmers to liquidate breeding stock, abort sows and euthanize piglets. The result of this activity will be a tightening supply of animals going forward. Expectations are for hog and cattle slaughter to remain in a pandemic driven slow-down, 15%-20% below kill capacity, for the remainder of 2020.

At the end of the day, we are moving from an oversupply of meat in the U.S. to a period of a persistent undersupply – and the severity of that will be determined by how well the Covid-19 situation is managed. The Covid-19 disruption to the food service industry will continue to be a drag on the meat markets, but thankfully, grocery and retail is picking up some of the slack.

(Farm Bureau)


The Covid-19 threat to the food supply chain is a global phenomenon, and not isolated to the U.S. In the big picture, supplies globally are shrinking and there remains a historic global protein deficit as a result of African Swine Flu. With some states domestically and countries abroad opening back up, there is slight hope that the demand will come a little closer to meeting the production of meat, but how long it will take to fully recover is only a guessing game.

PS:  don’t forget to check out RCM’s ‘What Moves Commodity Markets’ infographic.



08 May 2020

Ag Markets Update: May 1-7

Corn planting continued at a great pace around the country in the last week as weather has stayed favorable in some of the largest corn growing states. Weather looks good into the end of May for planting in most areas which would be bearish for the market. The next USDA report comes out on May 12th which will give some more insight into the supply and demand for the rest of the year. If you’re looking for any positive corn news in the short term, keep an eye out for updates on ethanol production, crude oil demand, and unexpected weather issues.


U.S. Soybean markets are keeping their eyes on Brazil and China as the U.S. continues to battle it out against Brazil for Chinese Soybean purchases. With increased political tensions, record Brazilian exports, and lagging demand, it’s looking like China will struggle to meet the Phase 1 agreement. Soybean planting continued over the week and is off to a great start at 23% planted and with a good weather outlook for the week should continue.


Crude oil storage & oversupply continues to make the market unstable; to help offset that risk, FCM’s have begun to add precautionary measures to reduce and eliminate speculative risk to customers in the front month by restricting to high net worth investors. June crude oil has rallied 269% since its low on April 21 at $6.50, while December crude has rallied 20.4% since its low on April 22nd. This shows that the major risk for prices is in the short run while further off markets have stayed calm. In addition the largest oil ETF, USO had a reverse stock split 1:8 and has diversified the funds exposure out across the curve. USO represents roughly 6% of the oil market with open interest of over 2 million as of May 7.



The government is looking at intervening in the meat packing industry as struggles continue. Foreign interests in both ends of the process has the U.S. government looking to make sure we have control of the process and it is fair. The biggest focus in the meats industry is the plant closures and disruptions in the supply line from COVID-19.

Some U.S. meatpacking plants shut down because so many people were out sick they couldn’t function, or were ordered to close so public health investigators could make sure the workplace was safe…. The meat industry must balance consumer demand with worker safety, when historically the industry’s concern — from the design of plants to employee protocols — prioritizes mass production.” – Green Bay Gazette


Relief Package
The House will be debating a bill to add another $38 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), brining available funds to $68 billion. The USDA allocate this money to fund MFP3, direct commodity purchases, and other programs like WHIP+. Both sides are arguing about oversight of the distribution of the funds, but the bill is expected to pass later this spring.

After a historic rebound in the month of April, the Dow seemed to come back to earth to start May as we saw a 680-point drop last week. There is a lot of uncertainty about a possible second wave of shutdowns as the country begins to open back up, along with concerns about how China will respond to U.S. politicians calling for accountability in their transparency, or lack thereof, in the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis.