By STEVE BINDER
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It literally is a dry topic, but this year’s drought and how to best move forward from it should captivate attendees during free seminars at the 34th annual Indiana-Illinois Farm and Outdoor Power Equipment Show, organizers say.
Seminars on all three days of the show, Dec. 11-13, start at 11 a.m. “Every year we try to come up with timely topics about agriculture, and this year was, hands-down, the easiest to come up with because of the drought we’ve all experienced,” said Gary Truitt, president of the Hoosier Ag Today radio network and sponsor of the seminars.
“Farmers can and will recover from the drought, but it will take careful planning and strategic thinking to get back on track both financially and agronomically.”
Entrance to the show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, on the corner of East 38th Street and Fall Creek Parkway, is free, but parking is $5 per vehicle.
Truitt said each day, seminars will focus on different aspects of the drought. On Dec. 11, agronomy takes center stage; the focus on Dec. 12 will be economics; and on Dec. 13 the futures markets will be the focus.
Centered in the three days is a regular show participant who always attracts the largest crowds, Purdue University’s Dr. Chris Hurt.
An ag economist with extension, Hurt will present his Outlook program next Wednesday with a focus on marketing and economics.
“Chris Hurt is always one of the biggest draws for the ‘how’ because he packs his discussion with good, solid information,” Truitt said.
Hurt will examine the forces at play in the markets and give attendees recommendations on how they should adjust their marketing plans entering 2013, given the drought’s impact this year.
“For corn, current bids into the storage season are relatively flat going across the fall and into the spring, without substantial increases or decreases,” Hurt said.
“Soybeans are different because of the very large South American production. If they have a reasonable growing season, we’re going to start seeing lower soybean prices by maybe January, and especially February and March.”
The USDA is projecting the final corn crop for 2012 at about 10.7 billion bushels, down 13 percent compared to last year and the lowest total in the past six years. Soybean projections are pegged at about 2.6 billion bushels, down 14 percent nationally.
While Hurt said strong futures prices will help grain producers cover drought-ravaged harvest numbers, the lower yield numbers will continue to hurt livestock producers who are struggling with high feed costs.
Pork producers particularly took hard hits in August and September, but with careful planning, some have escaped crippling consequences by being a bit patient and not thinning herds too much. Pork prices, he said, have rebounded nicely during the past six weeks.
“The bleak outlook called for losses of as much as $50 to $60 per head in the final quarter of this year,” Hurt said. “A panic response might have been to cover substantial amounts of feed needs at record-high prices, to forward-price lean hog futures before the outlook worsened, or just sell out altogether.
“Now that the damage from the 2012 drought is better known, those who did not panic are facing much smaller losses than was feared at the height of the crisis.”
Prior to his Outlook presentation, Somerset CPA Michael A. Fritton will discuss tax law changes for 2013 that will impact farm families and give an update on the status of the estate tax.
Next Tuesday, soil, fertility and seed selection issues are the focus, with Indiana cover crop expert Hans Kok and Advanced Ag Solutions’ Daryl Starr leading the agronomy discussion.
And next Thursday, the focus shifts to the futures markets, with Riley Trading’s Jim Riley and the Chicago Board of Trade’s Tom Fritz taking center state.
“They will give a real hands-on presentation with practical recommendations based on how they see the markets going,” Truitt said.