Friday, December 30, 2011 — Blog by SFNToday
As we look into 2012...
Tthis time of year always beckons a look back, as well as a look forward.
After looking back at some old blogs, I said on January 6th that 2011 was going to be a wild ride…little did I know!
After an extremely cold, dry winter, there was a major tornado outbreak in April, record dry and heat in the summer, the summer concluded with a major land-falling hurricane, that for all intents and purposes broke the drought, at least in North Carolina and Virginia. And we can’t forget the earthquake centered in Virginia, felt all the way to the North Carolina Sand Hills the week before Hurricane Irene made landfall. As many have said, all we were missing were the locusts!
Agriculturally speaking, it’s also been a challenging year, for all the reasons mentioned above, plus other political reasons on both the state and federal level.
The EPA has once again tried to intervene in our livelihoods, and the changes to the GIPSA rule, mandated by the 2008 farm bill, have yet to be finalized, then the Department of Labor all of a sudden decided to get into the act with their proposed new child labor rules that could have a profound effect on the way family farms work, and it goes on and on.
Once again, I think 2012 is going to be a wild ride
While I’d be a fool to try to predict the weather beyond the next 10 minutes or so, the winter of 2011-12 has started out very differently than the winter of 2010-11. First of all it’s warmer. The amount of moisture seems to be about the same; we could use more going into the growing season. But, we’ve been warned for months that our sworn enemy, La Nina was going to be in residence, and thus far, moisture has been held in check.
As far as policy and politics for 2012, we’ve got several things going on in 2012
First and foremost will be the farm bill. While in the fall the Obama Administration’s Super Committee had a chance to ‘pre-write’ the 2012 farm bill, having been assigned the task of cutting some $23 million from the ag budget, among others. As we know, the Super Committee failed all the way around, so, the 2012 farm bill will be written as it has been done for many years.
Then there’s the elections
This is a major election year, from President of the United States on down. The Republican nominee selection thus far has been something like a bad episode of “Dallas”, and I’m still of the opinion that a republican dark horse we’ve never heard of is going to just show up before the major primaries in the late winter and spring.
Historically speaking, not a lot of policy is written during an election year, and that may actually to help the ag sector. With all the pending regulation changes, it would be my speculation that implementing those new reg’s will move at a glacial pace. No incumbent running for re-election wants their constituents mad at them lest they loose their cushy seat in Washington. So, I think we can take a deep breath here, and just be prepared to wait.
Once again in 2012 there’s likely to be a shift in acres all across the country. Due to the summer drought, corn was once again unprofitable for most in the southeast, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of the lowest corn acres ever along the east coast.
Cotton and peanuts are looking more attractive than ever. While cotton prices aren’t what they were in the early part of 2011, they’re still pretty impressive, and peanut prices, due to the drought in my native Texas are through the roof.
In 2011 we had the appearance of the kudzu bug munching on soybeans, with the yield reduction numbers still out, so barring a precipitous price drop, I think cotton and peanuts will be the ‘in’ full season crops, and soybeans will be double-cropped behind a record number of wheat acres.
To me, the most exciting thing about a new year is the anticipation of what will happen in the next twelve months. As always, we at Southern Farm Network will be providing a ring-side seat!
Best wishes in the New Year,
Director, Southern Farm Network & SFNToday