As Combines Roll, Sometimes the Mind Will Wander

Corn 510

It is days like this this I wonder what is important in the world.  I had a big day.  I loaded four trucks, while combating all the corn I could.   It was one of those days where you just couldn’t get enough done.  If I was loading trucks, I wasn’t combining and when I was combining, I was ever watchful of another truck showing up.  The key is to stay full so that you always have enough corn to fill a truck.  You know the drill.  As farmers we’ve done it 1 million times.

In other words, actually produced something, that being corn.  My corn will likely be produced into ethanol or eaten by some livestock.  Who knows, it might even get into the food in residual category.  Corn is not a very good price, but it is tangible.  That is a far cry from what I hear when I climb into my combine and listen to my satellite radio.  Then I hear about twitter having an IPO of $10.9 billion and Instagram  being valued at $3.8 billion.   So who is the dummy?  Yes, I will volunteer.  Twitter and Instagram make no money but they’re worth billions.   Our corn economy isn’t quite the same.

Of course I can go on and on.  There is also the recent announcement by Apple Avenue paperthin iPad, which as all the computing power of a mainframe back in the day.  Add the political machinations of the Canadian Senate into the mix and you can see my mind is full from listening to radio all day along in front of 6 rows of corn.  The question is, how do I make sense of all this?

For the life of me, I cannot make sense of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and how they are economically valuable.  Yes, I am a heavy user of social media and I find it very valuable for me.  However, making money is not its strong point and so when we compare it against the rest of the economy, including me producing corn I just don’t get it.   Some of it seems to be such a waste of time.

Needless to say, when we are talking about billions of dollars, it’s pretty obvious I do not understand.  Valuations in the billions don’t lie.  I might think producing corn is more important, but the world doesn’t agree.

When I wasn’t thinking about those lofty economic ideas  as the combine devoured another 6 rows of corn, my mind was turning to Canadian politics.  Earlier in my career I used to write a lot about Canadian politics and how it affected agriculture.  That interest in politics actually got me in a position to meet both Sen. Pamela Wallin and Senator Mike Duffy, long before they became household names.  This past week they have dominated the Canadian media.

Their behavior with regard to the sloppiness of some of their expenses has certainly landed them in some very hot water.   Government has a culture of waste at certain levels and it looks to me that both of these individuals got on the wrong side of that, but not necessarily to deliberately.  Sometimes the culture, like that which Canadian senators operate in can be way too lax.  Somebody’s got a be a scape goat and it certainly looks like those 2 senators are in the crosshairs from a somewhat vengeful Prime Minister’s office.

Which brings me back to my 6 rows of corn continually in front of me this time year.  My yields are down below my expectations but still a decent crop and this likely will be mirrored throughout the rest of Ontario.   With Ontario having over 2.15 million  acres of corn planted we are looking at between 340 and 350 million bushels  on the ground this fall which will keep basis low.  This will maintain Ontario’s status as the cheapest place to source corn in North America.

Of course we will find out on November 8th all the juicy details like planted and harvested acreage for grains that we missed out from the canceled October 11 USDA report.   With the government shutdown, we actually had real fundamentals taking place in the grain trade discovering prices.  However, that now is in the rearview mirror.  On November 8th we should be back to all the hype and hyperbole of the USDA numbers.  Hopefully, they will make that corn in front of me these days so much more valuable.  Well, maybe I better not hold my breath.

So as combines roll, remember to stay safe out there.   What you do by driving that combine is a very important thing.  Coming to grips with the rest of the world is just an ongoing process

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