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Thursday, September 25, 2014, 7:09 AM Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
When corn and soybeans paused at 7:45 this morning they were both ¼ of a cent higher. So… not a lot of big news out today as you can imagine. The weather forecasts are starting to look a little more active for late next week which could throw a wrench into our harvest progress as rains move into the western belt. The temps though – they look to remain above normal in the 6-10 day maps with no signs of frost to be seen. It is worth noting that in the 8-14 day maps, temps slip back to a more normal/seasonal pattern.
Export sales were out this morning – big soybean sales and decent corn sales but this was all right in line with expectations so no surprises there. Overall for today, the wet weather might be enough to keep corn and soybeans out of the red for a while – but with crops that appear to still be growing in size… don’t be surprised with lower prices as we get closer to the end of the week.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 7:09 AM Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
Rain showers are moving across IA this morning which should put a temporary stop to the early harvest that had started over the last few days. The markets are bouncing a bit higher this morning, led by wheat futures. Rallies could be difficult to hold however, as both corn and soybeans are still near their contract lows and yield reports are showing no signs of slowing down.
Overall for today, the bulls are hoping that this little overnight rally is a sign that the selling will be done for a bit. It feels like with the weather stopping harvest in the West, this market might actually hold above steady today. I still worry about these prices on Friday afternoon, ahead of what looks like it could be a big harvest weekend…
Monday, September 22, 2014, 7:09 AM Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
New contract lows are being made this morning on corn, soybeans & meal as the markets grind lower on good weather and big yield reports. The majority of the Midwest looks to stay warm and dry for the rest of week with no signs of a freeze or frost for the next couple of weeks. The yield reports coming out of Illinois are just absolutely phenomenal (a bunch of from 250 to 300+ bpa) and with the clear weather forecast – we should start to hear even more yields from across the corn belt soon. I did hear this morning that some producers in the eastern corn belt will temporarily stop harvesting corn and switch to beans soon because the beans are drying down fast. This could be the final nail in the coffin on the old crop / new crop soybean inverse as the bean pipeline starts to fill.
equipment is a necessity on farms to gather the crops for a bountiful harvest. Harvest
time is primary revenue time on many farms and is also one of the peak periods for
farm injuries and deaths. Many of these injuries can be prevented through
effective farm safety management.
a "safety first" attitude. Follow safe work practices all the time
and set a good example for others.
physically and mentally fit before operating equipment. Fatigue, stress and
worry can distract you from safely operating equipment. Take frequent breaks.
attention to all safety information. Read operator's manual and warning decals.
the equipment and correct any hazards before operating.
hazardous areas on equipment and make sure you stay away from moving parts.
Beware of pinch points, shear points, wrap points, pull-in areas, thrown
objects, crush points, stored energy hazards and freewheeling parts.
sure everyone who operates the equipment has the appropriate training and is
physically able to operate it safely.
down equipment, turn off the engine, remove key and wait for moving parts to
stop before dismounting equipment.
bystanders and others away from equipment operation area. Do not allow
"extra riders", especially children.
Information supplied by the National Safety Council’s
Agricultural Division, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety
(NECAS) – www.necasag.org or 888-844-6322.
Friday, September 19, 2014, 8:09 AM Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The markets are drifting lower this morning as harvest inches closer to the heart of the corn belt. Soybeans made new lows in the electronic trade last night and when the markets paused at 7:45am they were only a penny off of those lows. It feels like we aren’t done making new lows for today... There really isn’t much for fundamental (S&D) news out there this morning – the outside markets seem to be in charge. The $US is higher again (approaching the high for the week) which has most commodities on the defensive.
The 6-10 and 8-14 day forecasts still look great for harvest progress – warmer and drier. It is however worth noting that at the tail end of the 8-14 day window a wetter pattern shows up in the far western part of the corn belt. Even with that, overall you’d have to view the updated maps as natural/bearish – nothing to get worried about.
Later this morning Informa (a well followed private company) will be releasing their acreage estimates, which unfortunately may be the most exciting thing to happen today in regards to fundamentals.
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 8:09 AM Submitted by: Joel Pudenz
We’ve got some more of the same this morning with corn and soybeans 2 to 3 cents lower at the 8:45 break after a quiet overnight. It’s been a bit choppy the last few days and will likely continue this trend as yield reports from the field make their way to the eyes and ears of the market. Delta and Eastern Corn Belt reports are stout thus far. The Western US is sending us some late summer weather as the next two weeks will be warmer and drier than average (see below) – it looks like this will be a great harvest window. Futures markets will be relatively quiet today and will likely trade two sided and choppy.
On Dec. 1, 2013, a Metro-North commuter train derailed in the Bronx in New York City, killing four people and injuring 59 others. The operator was running the train at nearly triple the speed limit in the zone in which it derailed. It was the city’s deadliest mass transit train derailment in more than two decades.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s early report on the Metro-North derailment indicates the operator was likely fatigued at the time of the incident.
This incident and others are drawing attention to human behavior elements that may need to be addressed in the rail industry.
After a deadly September 2008 collision between a Metrolink commuter train and a Union Pacific Railroad freight train in California, NTSB began tracking a pattern of severe train incidents that were attributed to human behavioral factors such as inattentiveness, distraction or poor judgment. In this case, the Metrolink engineer had sent and received text messages while operating the train, causing him to miss a crucial stop signal.
NTSB has included operational safety in the rail mass transit industry on its “Most Wanted” list of safety improvements for 2014, citing as major issues human behavioral factors and deficient safety cultures that do not encourage open communication between workers and supervisors. It is the first time rail mass transit operational safety has been included on NTSB’s Most Wanted list.
Complacency can be an issue among workers who have been in the rail industry for a long time, said Greg Hull, assistant vice president of public safety, operations and technical services for the American Public Transportation Association.
Employees who go decades without an incident may falsely believe nothing bad can happen, Hull said, and take a shortcut that could prove disastrous. This is particularly dangerous when a technology or procedure has changed but an older worker decides to follow a previous preferred method, Hull added.
Experienced workers are not the only ones who can become complacent. Newly hired employees may not follow all posted procedures if they were never required to do them in previous jobs, according to Pat Colliere, a safety officer in engineering for the New York Division of Amtrak. Colliere noted that the industry is becoming “younger by the minute,” as rail workers who were hired in the late 1970s during the industry’s hiring frenzy retire, taking the knowledge of a more dangerous time in the industry with them.
Fatigue and scheduling
Most freight rail engineers, conductors and signal employees are required to go off duty after 12 consecutive work hours and have 10 consecutive hours off before being called to their next assignment. Although hours-?of-service regulations established by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 are intended to ensure rail workers have enough time for rest, the 2013 Metro-North incident brought attention to the role of scheduling changes and their effect on fatigue.
At press time, the preliminary investigation of the Metro-North incident indicated that the train operator allegedly had recently switched to the early shift from the afternoon shift. The National Sleep Foundation states that changing schedules may cause fatigue as the worker adjusts to being awake during times when he or she normally would have been resting.
According to the Association of American Railroads, some train crews are unable to work set schedules for a number of reasons, including weather, track maintenance and rail traffic. AAR recommends the following solutions to help combat fatigue among rail crews:
Provide workers with an extra rest period if they feel excessively fatigued by the time they go off duty.
Make rest periods and scheduling changes more predictable.
Encourage workers to get screened for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and educate them on the symptoms of daytime fatigue.
Make sure crews are able to receive restful sleep during their time off by improving their lodging or ensuring they make it home for off-duty periods.
Communication and situational awareness
In October 2013, two track workers were struck and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit train near Walnut Creek, CA, after they had gained approval from a control center to enter the track. The workers had used a notification procedure known as “simple approval” to access the track, with no protection from oncoming trains or moving equipment other than their own situational awareness.
The California Public Utilities Commission later issued new rules for rail-transit roadway workers in the state. The rules require a watchperson to be present for all rail-transit work, as well as more frequent communication among train operators, dispatchers and roadway crews.
NTSB is now recommending that the Federal Transit Administration require all transit agencies to review their authorization procedures for allowing workers access to a track, discarding any procedure similar to BART’s discontinued “simple approval” process. FTA also should require transit agencies to install additional warning or stopping devices on trains or tracks, including secondary warning systems that can notify workers on a track of oncoming trains or moving equipment, according to NTSB.
However, workers and dispatchers need to know these technologies are not an “end-all thing,” Colliere said.
“While technology does have its place in safety, there is a lot of technology out there that could give a false sense of security if used incorrectly,” he said. “For example, there are armbands that warn track workers on the approach of a train. These only work if the battery is charged and if the transponders are working.”
Improvements in rail worker safety
According to the Association of American Railroads’ most recent data, in 2012 the rate of serious or fatal injuries among rail employees was down 85 percent from 1980 and 51 percent from 2000.
Pat Colliere, a safety officer in engineering for the New York Division of Amtrak, said changes in regulations, equipment and industry best practices are some of the reasons for the improvement:
Personal protective equipment requirements for workers who maintain and provide switching for rails have improved, as well as the brightness and reflectivity of warning devices, Colliere said.
The Federal Railroad Administration’s Roadway Worker Protection standards mandate minimum requirements in flagging, signaling, right-of-way work and use of equipment on tracks adjacent to workers.
An FRA rule issued in 2011 requires rail operations to adopt new on-track safety procedures, including improved train approach warnings and speed limits near work areas.
Employee role in safety
NTSB also has called out rail mass transit operations for not doing enough to incorporate worker input and information on near-miss incidents into their safety programs. These workers have special insight into unsafe work processes or hazards that could result in a severe incident at a future date, noted Jeff P. Kovacs, deputy general manager of the Rail Safety and Training Department for New Jersey Transit. Kovacs said workers also are a key source of information on workplace incidents that were never reported because they did not result in property damage or an injury, among other reasons.
However, workers are not likely to begin sharing their insight or information on near-miss incidents unless an open and non-punitive safety culture exists, Kovacs said. To build a stronger dialogue between workers and supervisors, he recommends the following:
Supervisors should encourage workers to report all hazards and incidents they witness, even those that normally would not be reported based on the Federal Railroad Administration’s reporting requirements.
Use training sessions on working safely on or near the rails to gather insight into what aspects of training workers do not comprehend, and then focus on those aspects in safety briefings and other training materials.
Rail operations should establish anonymous reporting systems to gather information on near-miss incidents in case workers are concerned about being penalized.
Hull noted that safety regulations among rail operations have better prioritized workers’ safety, including ones that allow rail workers to refuse to perform a work function they have a reason to believe would be unsafe or put them in danger. This places part of the responsibility on the workers, he said. According to Hull, rail workers under an effective workplace safety culture will do the following:
Feel comfortable asking questions about procedures or any aspects of work they are required to do
Ensure they are properly rested before work
Be familiar with the rules and regulations
Understand what is required with the safety measures needed to be in place
Monitor co-workers to ensure they are working safely
“The railroad can be a dangerous place to work, and it only takes a split second to cost a life,” Colliere said.
Tip of the rail ‘safety iceberg’
Jeff P. Kovacs, deputy general manager of the Rail Safety and Training Department for New Jersey Transit, describes the fatal incidents in New York in 2013 and Chatsworth, CA, in 2008 as the tip of a “safety iceberg.” For every major incident or fatality, he said, it is likely that hundreds of less serious incidents came before it. And many were probably never reported because they were below the Federal Railroad Administration’s reporting threshold level.
In its list of “Most Wanted” safety improvements for 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended rail mass transit agencies look to these near misses as a wealth of information on the roles of human error in incidents.
“The improved knowledge should be put to work by refining and strengthening operational policies, practices and procedures to manage and mitigate the safety risks,” NTSB stated.
One such way is through the Confidential Close Call Report System, which New Jersey Transit and three other major rail operations implemented as part of an FRA pilot program in the late 2000s.
At the CCCRS pilot sites, workers could submit near-miss reports through a neutral third party that removed all identifying information from the reports. They then went on to a committee comprising labor, management and FRA that identified root causes for the incidents detailed in the reports. The committee then proposed corrective actions that could be communicated back to the railroads.
As a result, New Jersey Transit incorporated results of CCCRS into the safety briefings for workers. It also redesigned safety checklists and began meeting more frequently with employees about things that could be improved at work. CCCRS allowed the operation to tailor information to what crewmembers needed to know, increasing the effectiveness of the safety program, Kovacs said.
The program not only enhanced communications among co-workers and between supervisors and front-line workers, it enhanced everyone’s safety awareness, he said. CCCRS informed safety professionals at New Jersey Transit about safety deficiencies and safety hazards they would not have known about otherwise.
“It’s difficult to quantify how much safety improvement was related to CCCRS,” he said. “It’s mostly, from our standpoint, about having healthier safety awareness.”
Harvest season means more farm vehicles
will be sharing the roadways with other vehicles. That includes combines and
other harvesting equipment moving from one field to another, as well as trucks
and tractors transporting produce. To help ensure your safety:
the Slow Moving Vehicle (SMV) emblem on all off-road vehicles. Make sure
emblems are in good condition and properly mounted.
flashers anytime you use public roads. The American Society of Agricultural
Engineers (ASAE) recommends two flashing amber lights, mounted at least 42
inches high, in both the front and rear.
with your state laws. Most state laws require using headlights 30 minutes
before sunset, until 30 minutes after sunrise. Also use headlights
whenever insufficient light or unfavorable weather conditions exist. ASAE
recommends two headlights on the front, at the same level, positioned as
far apart as possible. They also recommend one rear-left and one
rear-right red taillight mounted as far apart as possible, and two red
reflectors visible from the rear.
hitches to verify they are sturdy and properly mounted before towing
equipment or using wagons. Always use safety chains, if equipped.
Thursday, September 11, 2014, 8:09 AM
Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
Today is report day – at 11AM we will have the
September S&D report from the USDA. The markets are on the
defensive ahead of it as soybeans made new contract lows last night
while corn is still bouncing on its contract lows. As mentioned
here before, the trade is leaning towards increased carryouts in both
corn and soybeans (details below). You have to wonder, if the USDA
confirms these bigger carryouts – is there still downside potential from
here? Or maybe the market has done enough work
and will wait for yield reports to roll in before working lower. We
will all be a lot smarter in just under 3 hours…
Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 8:09 AM
Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The monthly S&D report will be out at 11am
tomorrow, and the markets seem quiet ahead of that. Traders are
expecting an uptick in both corn and soybean yields which
could help explain the selling we have seen the last few trading days.
Other than the report tomorrow – there isn’t much
out there for fundamental news. As you have no doubt heard from your
local weatherperson -- the cold weather is coming… temps are expected to
bottom out Friday night. The good news is
that frost risk is very low for the heavy corn growing areas of the
belt. In other weather stories – heavy rains slipped through southern
IA last night dropping anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of rain! The next 14
days look dry which will help get fields ready
for harvest. (8-14 day maps from NOAA are below)
Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 8:09 AM
Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The markets are starting off weaker today – not a lot of news out there to give us direction other than
diminishing chances for a severe frost (the weather models look
the same as yesterday, maybe a touch warmer in spots). The trade is
also getting itself prepped for the USDA’s release of the September
S&D which is due out Thursday morning. Generally
speaking this report doesn’t usually make big changes to crop size
(they prefer the ‘wait and see’ mode it seems), however the trade still
expects to see rising 14/15 carryout numbers in corn, soybeans and
wheat. They will however adjust
old crop carryouts, currently the market bias is that we will get a slightly wider corn carryout and a slightly tighter bean carryout.
In the outside markets, the $US is still pushing
itself higher which feels like a heavy, bearish anchor on our commodity
prices – limiting rally attempts. Both Dec corn and Nov bean futures
contracts seem primed to test recent lows and
potentially test long term support below the market.
Monday, September 8, 2014, 3:09 PM
Submitted by: Joel Pudenz
Rain is falling here in Central Iowa as we stare at
another day or two of precip. and a two-week outlook of colder
temperatures. During the overnight trade, corn, soybeans, and wheat all
traded higher on fears of frost. All three commodities
eventually turned lower as the market realized temps won’t get cold
enough to damage/shrink physical crop size. Crop ratings were within
market expectations this week, holding steady from last week for both
corn and soybeans. Corn is rated at 74% G/E nationally
and soybeans are 72% G/E nationally. In like manner, Iowa corn was
steady vs. last week at 76% as were soybeans vs. last week at 73%. This
is likely a neutral/negative input as we roll into to harvest with
record production potential coming closer and closer
to realization every day.
It’s been a wild ride for old crop bean basis –
domestic supplies are extremely tight and bean crush margins remain
lucrative. Gulf and interior basis levels are easing up, indicating
basis may have already peaked. Additionally, some interior
end-users already shut down or have indicated shutting down to wait for
more beans to hit the market here in a few weeks.
Monday, September 8, 2014, 7:09 AM
Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The corn and soybean markets are both lower this
morning, as a reduced risk for frost is allowing the trade to remove
weather premiums out of the market. How the market closes today could
hinge on the midday weather models – a colder outlook
could inject a little life into the close but if they confirm reduced
frost risk the markets will find additional selling pressure.
Other than that, not much else out there. There is
a bit of macro discussion going on regarding the $US (which is
approaching its highest levels in 14 months). Of course, a strong
dollar adversely affects the competitiveness of the U.S.
in the export corn/soybean markets which is not what we like to see as
we prepare to handle what looks to be a record corn/soybean crop.
Thursday, September 4, 2014, 8:09 AM Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The corn and soybean markets feel like they want to bounce back this morning after a nasty down day yesterday, but are so far unable. One thing that could be keeping a lid on any recovery this morning is the fact that the $US is sharply higher – the Dollar Index is pushing to the highest levels in over a year!
Weather is still pretty much the same… the Midwest will remain wet throughout next week while temps are a touch below normal. There are chances for a bit of a cold snap next Thursday/Friday (Sep 11th/12th) but from what we read this is “unlikely to induce a killing freeze”.
Overall for today look for a steady/weaker tone. The corn market made new lows yesterday and the ones who are long (farmers) were frozen in their tracks while the ones who are short (the funds) kept on selling. The game of chicken between the short funds and the long producers will likely come to an end sometime soon and in the process could set the price range for the rest of the calendar year.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014, 8:09 AM
Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The markets started the overnight session off weaker last night and never looked back thanks to better than expected crop ratings and large production estimates from well-followed private companies (FC Stone was out yesterday, Allendale was out already this morning and I believe Informa will be out later this morning).
The first little frost/freeze scare of the season is popping up this morning, but it doesn’t look to be a major one, NOAA is showing below normal temps for the Northern Plains and the Great Lakes through Sep 15th but it doesn’t look like U.S. row crops will see much for damage. Frost is the last threat against what is widely considered to be a record corn/soybean crop this year.
Generally speaking look for weaker markets today as the trade deals with this large crop that somehow has improving conditions! The idea that “big crops get bigger” will likely weigh on this market as we inch towards harvest.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 7:09 AM Submitted by: Dustin Weiner
The markets look to start the holiday shortened week on a choppy but higher note. Not a lot of reasons for the higher markets this morning… weekly good-to-excellent crop ratings will be out this afternoon and are expected to remain historically high. Also, the weather forecasts look great with no frost forecasted through at least the first 15 days of September (normal to above normal temps and above normal moisture in the extended maps). The nearby 6-10 day maps are below.