Market News & Headlines >> Katie's Blog: Seeing the Big Picture

With USDA’s next Supply and Demand report coming up on Dec. 11, there will be fresh focus on U.S. production, especially given the slow U.S. harvest. Many areas across the states have significant damage—mostly water-related. But does that damage translate into a significant cut to production?

I relate to damaged fields in 2018. I myself lost a farm to flooding. Those soybeans looked to be at least 60 bushels per acre. They were at the stage of what we call “butter beans” when we received the rising river report. You can’t sell soybeans after they have been under floodwaters and you for sure can’t sell butter beans—at least when all of them are THAT high of moisture.

That sounds like a sad story, and it did hurt. If I stopped at that you might think we had a terrible year. But there’s important information you don’t know: That particular acreage is not impactful to me, and it is not unusual for this flooding to happen. It’s high-risk ground. Also, it was 2% of my soybean acres—that’s not a high percentage. In the same sense, it’s easy to assume a positive or negative story like mine, told on social media or elsewhere, represents a large scale of production. I laugh as I think about the meme “You’re not that special.” No one cares if I lost 100 acres (except my lender and me).

My husband drove to South Dakota last week to pheasant hunt. He said the beginning of Interstate 29 took his breath away because corn and soybeans were still in the field. Crop in the field isn’t the end of the world, but it was also covered in snow and water. Some floodwaters were nearly to the corn’s ear. I admit, this kind of dilemma is more impactful there than in our small fields here in the Kentucky river bottoms. But again, making crop assumptions based on the view from behind a windshield on the interstate has never been reliable for me.

It’s neat to see other farms and hear stories, but we should not mistake them for a statistical trend. Just because some of us had physical crop issues doesn’t mean corn and soybean supplies are greatly damaged.