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2012 Commodity Classic Hot Topic Roundup

2012 Commodity Classic Hot Topic Roundup

12 March 2012

ANALYSIS - This year's Commodity Classic, held in Nashville, Tennessee, USA in early March, had US farmers out in full force to learn about the industry's hottest topics, writes Sarah Mikesell, TheCropSite senior editor.

Global Economies

Jim Wiesemeyer, Senior Vice-President of Informa Economics, addresses Commodity Classic attendees at education seminar Inside Washington: Outlook for Agriculture's Agenda.

A huge area of interest was global markets and economies. Jim Wiesemeyer, Senior Vice-President of Informa Economics, explained to farmers during an education seminar why the sovereign debt problem in Europe is so important to watch.

"Europe is China's biggest customer. Soybeans - about 65 per cent of US soybean exports go to China," Mr. Wiesemeyer said. "So you have to watch China's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If it were to go under 8 per cent, it would be the first solid signal that the world is going into a downturn."

From 1970 to 2008 advanced economies - primarily the US, Germany and Japan - accounted for more than half of the world's economic growth rate, he said. However in 2010, a wind of change began what Wiesemeyer calls "the rise of the rest." He sees this as positive for the US because anything pertaining to soybeans, corn, wheat, oil and meat are in a growth market. As a result, US investors see agriculture as a growth area.

"We're going to have a two-speed recovery with primarily the BRIC countries, which are the emerging markets - "B" for Brazil, "R" for Russia, "I" for India, and "C" for China, and now I add an "S" on for South Africa," he said. "They're only about 30 per cent of the world economy, but they're about 60 per cent of the world's growth."

Weed Resistance

Even though we sometimes think of weed resistance as "old news", it's still a hot topic. And experts are quick to say that it's not just a glyphosate issue - weeds are becoming resistant to multiple modes of action, which is even more concerning.

Southern and southeast states have been dealing with resistance's devastating effects for several years with Palmer amaranth/pigweed. As weed resistance moves north, those Midwest growers who thought resistance was just a problem in the South are seeing first-hand what a problem it can be, and waterhemp seems to be one of the big trouble-makers.

It's a very rapid process for resistant weeds to take over a field. Often the first year a grower will see a few weed escapes, the next year a significant patch will arise and the third year the field will not be harvestable.

US Farm Bill

Development of the US Farm Bill was the key topic of US Secretary of Agriculture's general session speech to thousands of farmers in attendance. He shared his views of what should be included - crop insurance, a commitment to export markets, bio-based opportunities, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), research funding, and access to loans.

"This job of writing a Farm Bill is not an easy task, but delaying is not going to make it any easier," Secretary Vilsack said. "It is incumbent on all of us to make sure that we send a consistent message to our members of Congress that we expect action this year."

Commodity Classic is the convention and trade show of the US corn, soybean, wheat and sorghum industries. THis year, show attendance jumped 25 per cent to over 6,000 participants.

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell, Senior Editor

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