Market to Market - June 14, 2024

Market to Market | Episode
Jun 14, 2024 | 27 min

On this edition of Market to Market ...

The Senate Republican version of the Farm Bill leans more vague than finite. Rain becomes more isolated as the pattern changes. Making a profit taking vegetables from local gardens to local forks. And, commodity market analysis with Mark Gold.


Coming up on Market to Market - the Senate Republican version of the Farm Bill leans more vague than finite. Rain becomes more isolated as the pattern changes. Making a profit taking vegetables from local gardens to local forks. And commodity market analysis with Mark Gold, next.

What's next doesn't happen by chance. It happens when researchers and farmers work together to solve tomorrow's agronomic challenges. We're committed to creating what's next because at Pioneer, our name is our mission.


Family owned and operated for more than 60 years, Sukup Manufacturing is a full-service provider of grain handling, storage and drying equipment, helping farmers feed and fuel the world.


For over 45 years, Steiner Tractor Parts has shared your love of antique tractors. New parts for old tractors. Learn more at or at 877-559-7887.


Tomorrow. For over 100 years, we have worked to help our customers be ready for tomorrow. Trust in tomorrow. Information is available from a Grinnell Mutual agent today.


This is the Friday, June 14 edition of Market to Market, the Weekly Journal of Rural America.

Hello. I’m Paul Yeager.

The Federal Reserve holds the last word on many things including the key interest rate.

This week, the Fed held steady the fee paid by banks to each other for lending money. Chairman Powell said there’s been progress on inflation, but not enough to warrant more than one cut this year. 

One of those sources of progress are two reports from this week.

The Consumer Price Index was flat for the month. For the year, the CPI notched a 3.3 percent gain - down a tenth of a percent from April’s reading.

The prices paid before reaching stores - the Producer Price Index - fell 0.2 percent. The wholesale mark weakened on lower energy costs.

Senate Republicans released their broad concept version of the next Farm Bill, several weeks after the House completed their committee work.

Peter Tubbs looks at the next list of priorities.

This week, Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, released the Republican membership’s framework for the 2024 Farm Bill.

Republicans are promoting their version of the legislation as putting more “farm” in the Farm Bill by modernizing the agricultural safety net and increasing funding for conservation programs.

Senator Boozman argued that agriculture has changed since the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, and the next edition must be adjusted to meet those new economic conditions. The proposed framework includes an average increase of 15 percent for all covered commodities.

The Republican measure would also pay for conservation programs by rerouting funds from the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Republican version of the bill mimics the proposed House Farm Bill voted on in May by pushing a cost-neutral policy towards the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Any future adjustments to the Thrifty Food Plan, the formula that calculates the value of benefits for low-income Americans, would be required to maintain the current costs.  By limiting the growth of SNAP, Republicans hope to have more dollars to funnel towards other titles of the Farm Bill.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association came out in support of the measure while the National Farmers Union asked for a spirit of bipartisanship to get the bill across the finish line.

Senator Debbie Stabenow is expected to release the Democratic majority’s framework in the coming days.

For Market to Market, I’m Peter Tubbs.

Around 135 million Americans are getting ready for their first heat wave of 2024.

Feels-like temperatures around the century mark are expected from the Mississippi River eastward into the Northeast.

Meanwhile, hurricane amounts of rain pummeled the Sunshine State.

David Miller has the story.

Southeastern Florida was inundated with heavy rain - more than a foot in some locations.

Precipitation across the upper Mississippi Valley and the state of Kansas reduced the intensity of the drought in those locations. Moderate to heavy rainfall also brought improvements to portions of the Northeast and the Washington Cascades in addition to the Sunshine State.

For some parts of the country, the pattern has changed from wet and cool to hot and dry. This week’s Drought Monitor reveals increased levels of drought as abnormal dryness continues to plague Oklahoma and the western Texas Panhandle. The drought also expanded or intensified in parts of southern New England and the mid-Atlantic states.

Parts of Montana, Wyoming, the central Rockies and northern High Plains continue to experience dry conditions. 

The wet weather is expected to continue across the nation’s midsection into the southeast as temperatures look to be above normal from the Rockies east to the Atlantic Ocean.

For Market to Market, I’m David Miller.

A scene in The Grapes of Wrath left an impression on an Ohio farmer.

The bib overalls and bowtie are the signature look of Farmer Lee Jones.

Along with his brother, the pair work on the land once lost to high interest rates of the 1970s.

They emphasize harmony with soil and sun in vegetables that are shipped around the world.

This week’s Cover Story is a condensed MtoM discussion covering the treadmill agriculture can become and why he stepped off on the restart.

Farmer Lee Jones: And for every small farmer out there, or everybody that ever dreamed of having a farm, or anybody that's ever lost the farm, it represents the small family farm or the dream of one, or the optimism that small family farms actually have a place in American society today. And it's our belief that there are enough people that say that artisan production and small family farms do have a place and we're banking our livelihood, on the fact that good, clean, healthy foods done the right way, taking care of the people taking care of the land, is something that there are enough people in this country that will support it. And we're very, very grateful to have the opportunity we've been blessed to be able to farm at 19 years old, I stood right on this property. When interest rates were 22% Paul, maybe even before you were born, and 22%. If you can imagine interest rates at 22%. We had a hailstorm and it wiped out all the crops, the banks foreclosed. And I watched them. When I was 19 years old, watching every single thing that my parents owned off including every tractor, every piece of equipment, our home, my mother's car, and we crawled away, I'm not trying to create a rags to riches story, because it's not things can change in a hurry. But we started back over. In America, we produce food cheaper than any other country in the world. Now you can say wait a minute, I can go to Whole Foods and I can have $300 in the grocery cart before you bat an eye. But as it relates to our income, we produce food cheaper than any other country in the world, yet we have the highest health care in the world. There's a real conundrum there. In the last 100 years, we have had a 50 to 80% decline in the nutritional level of vegetables - 50 to 80% decline, it's fact, you can Google it, it's real. But no, I don't feel we're on a treadmill. I feel that supply and demand dictates everything. We are fortunate to have been turned on to the idea that there were enough people that were starting to understand the tragedy of what was going on. And they supported clean foods. We follow a philosophy called regenerative agriculture, we believe in it. And we believe that we personally believe that God, some of us take bigger two by fours and others to get our attention. And losing that form was our two by four. Well, he said, No, I want you to go in a different direction. So, we did.

Paul Yeager: Well, healthy soil is something that I know that corn and soybean people talk about too. But in vegetables, I'm guessing it's extremely important to have that healthy soil.

Farmer Lee Jones: Okay, so I'm going to talk in layman terms, because that's how I understand that. We do have three scientists on staff, we have a lab, we're testing the biodiversity, the biology and the soil. There is more life below the earth's surface and there is above, if you can, if you can get your mind around the notion that and maybe your third your parents say it or you heard somebody say it, maybe it was tongue in cheek, maybe it thought maybe there was some truth to it, I need some vitamin D, I'm gonna go get some sunshine. If you can get your mind around that idea that your body has a receptacle for energy from the sun, then it's not such a far stretch to recognize and what's really cool is different types of plants accept different types of energy from the sun. So, we do a lab analysis no different than the commodity guys are doing. In fact, the synthetic fertilizer companies will provide that service for free from them. Here's the deficiencies. It's all the mineral levels. Based on those deficiencies in the minerals, different types of plants will harvest different types of energy from the sun. So, it can be clover, alfalfa, buckwheat, rye vetch, Sudan grass, we have 15 species planning, two thirds of the acreage is committed to harvest in the end energy from the sun. It's an unprecedented commitment. Two thirds of the acreage Can you imagine a grain grower trying to do that would be impossible.

Paul Yeager: This is your showroom? Store?

Farmer Lee Jones: Actually? Our market has been direct to restaurants, we shipped FedEx. We go as far as the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, and some of the Dubai we go into Disney down in Orlando, New York, Las Vegas. We shipped to all 50 states direct with no middleman. COVID hit and those restaurants were in trouble. And so were we. We did the USDA Farm to Family program for one round until they changed that, made it, fell back to their old bad habits of lowest bid. And the farm to family program then became a Cisco program, which was the cheapest, cheapest that they could do. We couldn't even get close even just at cost. So, we launched a nationwide home delivery because we felt there was enough people that were looking for good clean food. And there are food deserts in the United States, but we could ship directly to them from our farm.

Paul Yeager: You mentioned, the three scientists, it sounds like you might have three or four marketing people that are helping you understand where those new markets and new opportunities are.

Farmer Lee Jones: You know, it's really about listening to the customer. Listening to the needs, God gave us one mouth and two ears for a reason. We don't know much about marketing out here, Paul, we're just farm folks trying to figure it out as we go. We're not experts in this. We're vegetable growers. We're a family business, we have 168, full time team members, we have a profit sharing, there is nothing that makes my brother Bob Jones, the CEO of the company, and I am more happy than to be able to share profit sharing check. The single greatest asset on this farm is not land. It's not tractors, it's not greenhouses. It's not equipment, its people. We have 1000 years of experience, combined with when you add up the number of years that some of our team has been here, when all of our team is here. That's 1000 years of experience here at the chef's garden. They're vitally important to us and its people, ultimately, obviously, AI is going to be a part of the future. It's not going to replace anybody on this farm, it's going to make people more efficient, we have to embrace that it's important.

The full MtoM is available now.

Next, the Market to Market report.

The weather window is still open, but closing out hot and dry air over the commodity trade. For the week, the nearby wheat contract fell 15 cents and the July corn contract added a penny. China returned to buyer status in the soy complex. The July soybean contract held on for a penny gain while July meal improved $7.70 per ton. July cotton shrank by $2.76 per hundredweight. Over in the dairy parlor, July Class Three milk futures went up 65 cents. The livestock market was mixed. August cattle gained $6. August feeders added $7.05. And the August lean hog contract cut $1.23. In the currency markets, the US dollar index increased 70 ticks. July crude oil expanded $2.93 per barrel. COMEX gold strengthened $24.70 per ounce. And the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index was up almost 9 points, to settle at 578.25.

Yeager: Joining us now is regular Market Analyst Mark Gold. How are you doing, Mark?

Gold: I'm just fine. How are you, Paul?

Yeager: You know, I'm fine. Markets are up this week. You didn't have to temper too many downsides, except for wheat. Egypt is having an issue where they are sourcing some grain differently. Can the United States come to the rescue and be of service to Egypt now?

Gold: I doubt it. The Ukrainian crop is getting bigger and bigger. I don't know how they're growing all of these crops in the middle of a war. But their total grain production is going to be up, specifically wheat and corn. And even talking about some other crops as well. So, I don't think the U.S. will garner that business. The last week the Egyptian tender, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria were the big sellers to them. And I don't think it's going to change. Black Sea wheat will get to them.

Yeager: Do you sense that the Ukrainian crop is in any more dire straits than what we've heard?

Gold: No, the reports are telling us it's better. And the problem is with the sanctions on Russia and Russia having such a tough time with their wheat, it's now they're pricing themselves out of the market because they just don't have as much wheat as they need.

Yeager: We're still in that trend where we're about halfway back to what we've been for four months. But we're still above that level. Are you in a position that you want people to be thinking about selling right now?

Gold: Well, we've been telling people for the last couple of weeks on these rallies in the corn market and the bean market and the wheat market, sell some more up here. We're selling 10% at a crack here and there and making some sales and we're keeping puts on for what we don't have sold. But there have been some opportunities. I hope some guys took advantage of it. We'll see where it goes. But people are talking after today, because they were really pretty weak closes, you had some changes in the forecast, well there goes the market, it's over. You're in June. You don't make a corn crop or a bean crop in June. You make a corn crop in July and a bean crop in August and there's still plenty of time to get hot and dry between now and then. It's been a forecast for quite a while. Some of the longer-term forecasts look hotter and drier, particularly east of the Mississippi for a change. So, that would be certainly a knock to production if we do see some kind of heat this year.

Yeager: So, are we in a weather market for corn specifically?

Gold: Not today.

Yeager: Prior to today?

Gold: I would have said earlier in the week maybe because the forecast, I didn't see a whole lot of rain in the forecast. We had temperatures pushing 100 degrees in Kansas, 95 in Nebraska, Illinois got hot. So, it was on the cusp. And then we kind of hung in there until really today and then decided it looks like there's more rain, cooler temps and we backed off. But again, it's June. So, I don't get too excited about that.

Yeager: Well, that's, I want to ask you a follow up to the new crop side of things, the old crop side. You were here recently and you were basically begging people to sell, telling people it was an opportunity to sell. Did enough farmers take advantage and sell, in your opinion?

Gold: Well, I don't know that yet. Our farmers did a pretty good job of selling some more grain. But the big question is going to be, everybody is talking about the acreage report, what's that going to do? Are we going to see less corn acres, more bean acres? I think the more important report may be the stocks number. If we see that the stocks on farm have come down dramatically and shifted out of the farmer hands to the market, that gives us a chance to rally these markets. If they're still long all this corn and a fair amount of beans, even if we do have a heat related rally this summer it's not going to be the kind of rally that would knock your socks off because farmers will need to sell into that rally some more.

Yeager: On the new crop side, we just put up that chart, you mentioned this weather issue, we're mostly planted, things look decent in some areas and I'm sure you've heard from people who say, it doesn't look good for me. What if I'm in either a moderate spot or a not so good spot? What do I do?

Gold: You keep some puts underneath you. They don't have to be expensive puts, but keep something underneath you for the next 60 days to get through that. If we do get a rally look to sell it. These markets aren't over I don't believe. We're looking at a China demand sticking its head up in the last week, almost 450,000 metric tons of beans out of nowhere because Brazil has problems. We don't know what's going to happen with the tax. First Lulu says it's going to be on, then we heard rumors that he had enough opposition that maybe it's going to back off. I haven't heard anything definitive on that. But we do know that corn demand has been incredibly strong and if we can get a little bit of push on the bean side that would be great too.

Yeager: I'm going to ask Ryan in Iowa's follow up question then to what you just opened the door to in soybeans. Could there be enough interest from China to drive demand high enough to see beans in the teens in the U.S.?

Gold: Well, we're not that far away from it. We're $1, $1.50 away depending on which contract you're looking at. And yeah, we could certainly see things change in a hurry here. If Brazil decides that they can't export enough and China wants to make sure they're covered -- there was a rumor this morning that maybe they bought some, China bought some new crop beans. So, all that will be helpful if it happens and certainly if China comes in and we see a million metric tons or another half a million, that's going to catch the market's attention and move it higher. Can it move it $1, $1.50? Maybe not on its own. But if we come in Sunday night and the rains aren't there and the temperatures are hot, combine the two and now you've got a market.

Yeager: Has the market become so complacent to China not buying new crop beans that any little activity, like you just mentioned, is enough to start something?

Gold: It's something and if we do see these sales show up, two or three cargos, it's really not enough to say, well this is it. We've seen China come in on the odd day and buy a few. But if we start seeing that consistently, a couple of days a week over several weeks, now you've got more to talk about.

Yeager: Before we put a lid on grains, of wheat, corn, beans, which one of them is in the most sensitive or reactive to weather?

Gold: Well, I would say corn right now because we've got good demand on the corn. We'll see if we do lose acres on the acreage report. But again, that stocks report, we've got to see those numbers come down if we expect to sustain any kind of real rally in these markets.

Yeager: This morning one of the network news stations had something on bird flu. When the mainstream press starts talking bird flu and its leap into cattle, what is that doing to live cattle in your eyes?

Gold: Well, live cattle are in its own little world right now. And you've got the cash market, the futures it's been a great deal for guys that have been hedging. They've been making money out of their hedges and making money on their cash cattle. It's been great for them. Now the futures finally came back here today, look strong and I don't think it's going to be all that of a major effect. As you say, major media has gotten onto it, it's a little bit late by now. There was talk that some of the, I think it was the Wisconsin Ag Secretary said, any animals going into the shows are going to need to be tested. Okay, that's fine. But I think it's going to become less and less of a story over time.

Yeager: Do you see it having the most impact on cattle in a market standpoint?

Gold: Yeah, I would think so. But it's not going to transfer to humans, even in the milk. They're going to test for the milk but keep the animals alive until they clear and then we're back to where we were. So, I don't see it as being a big deal either from the dairy side or on the meat side.

Yeager: We always kind of kid around here if we have one question, we need to ask about livestock it's cover feed needs. But that's actually a legitimate story in feeders right now. Has this been - have those folks missed an opportunity to get some feed needs covered?

Gold: No, you've still got relatively cheap corn and meal out here. I don't know that there's a big rush. If we start to get hot and dry you don't want to be left behind. Buy some calls to protect yourself and see where it goes.

Yeager: With feeders specifically it's always the story about inventory. Has that changed for you?

Gold: We don't see it. The numbers are low. I don't know where they're going to come from eventually. They will. Everything goes in cycles. But obviously with what is happening in the cash markets, what's happening now in the futures catching up to it, it's telling us that the animals still are out there. And look at the boxed beef prices, the demand is through the roof. Hard to believe with the economy apparently in such bad shape.

Yeager: Well, somebody wanted me to ask you when was the last time you purchased a steak and if you felt good enough about the economy and obviously people are.

Gold: I had a steak last night. I had a steak two nights ago. I bought steaks for the grill. It hasn't stopped me from buying meat. To me it's pretty inelastic, I'm going to buy it unless something crazy happens out there. But I much prefer a good cut of steak than I do a chicken leg. So, I'm a steak guy.

Yeager: Well, let's talk about hogs though for a moment, just make it awkward for us both. But on the hog market, they have continued to slide. This has been a $10, $20 move here in the last couple of weeks.

Gold: But what happened today? We watched the August cattle rally almost $4 or $5 off its lows, we had contract lows, didn't quite close high enough for a key reversal in the August contract, but it was one heck of a turnaround in the hog market. The hogs have been under pressure, lack of demand from China and just not a big demand here in the States. So, it's been under pressure. But maybe now we've finally turned a corner. I would have liked to have seen those August hogs make that key reversal. But it's good enough to start. We'll see if we can hold up next week.

Yeager: Chairman Powell announced this week we're keeping the interest rate as is for now, keeping the door open for a cut still down the road. The way that translates back to commodities has been in some of the things we've just talked about, right? Is it still consistent with some of the items we're buying at the grocery store?

Gold: I think it is. The interest rates aren't going to stop anybody from buying a steak or even a pork roast or whatever. Where it's going to matter is more to the producer, I think than it is to the end user of the product. But are interest rates actually going to go down this year? Are they going to stick in that one rate cut? Maybe just to do it. But I don't know that the economy justifies any rate cuts in here. Yeah, we've slowed things down, but we've still got inflation out here. Go try to rent an apartment in Chicago. Go try to buy a house anywhere around Illinois. Try to buy farmland. Inflation is long but dead.

Yeager: And we are short and out of time. Thank you, Mark, good to see you.

Gold: Great to see you. Thank you.

Yeager: Appreciate it. We are going to pause this Analysis and continue our discussion about these markets in Market Plus. You can find both Analysis and Plus on our website of Our summer school assignment is to check out our Classroom section of our website. It is ready for the study of commodities, science and technology, along with new markets. Head over to Next week, from immigrant farm boy to longest serving cabinet member. Thank you so much for watching. Have a great week.





Market to Market is a production of Iowa PBS which is solely responsible for its content.

What's next doesn't happen by chance. It happens when researchers and farmers work together to solve tomorrow's agronomic challenges. We're committed to creating what's next because at Pioneer, our name is our mission.


Family owned and operated for more than 60 years, Sukup Manufacturing is a full-service provider of grain handling, storage and drying equipment, helping farmers feed and fuel the world.


For over 45 years, Steiner Tractor Parts has shared your love of antique tractors. New parts for old tractors. Learn more at or at 877-559-7887.


Tomorrow. For over 100 years, we have worked to help our customers be ready for tomorrow. Trust in tomorrow. Information is available from a Grinnell Mutual agent today.


Trading in futures and options involves substantial risk. No warranty is given or implied by Iowa PBS or the analysts who appear on Market to Market. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results.