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NGFA Urges CFTC to Delay, Study Impacts of Proposed Increase in Speculative Position Limits in Ag Futures
WASHINGTON – The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has urged the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to delay for at least six to 12 months its proposal to increase significantly speculative position limits on agricultural futures contracts.

In so doing, the NGFA warned the CFTC of major underlying concerns over the predictability of convergence between cash and futures prices during the futures delivery period, as well as problems with hedging and pricing efficiencies that have dramatically increased the need for grain elevators, feed mills and grain processors to access increased capital to finance margin calls.

“The lack of convergence between cash and futures markets during the delivery period, in conjunction with rapidly rising commodity values, has created huge borrowing needs and financial risks and exposure for the grain-buying industry,” the NGFA said in a statement submitted to the CFTC. “As banks have begun to question hedging performance in futures positions, borrowing lines have been stretched to the limit or beyond….Cash basis levels (the difference between futures and cash market prices for a specific commodity) are widening to reflect much higher financing costs – to the extent financing is even available -- that now are being forced into the system.

“Both the overall confidence in the (futures) market and the livelihood and business structure of the cash grain industry are at stake,” the NGFA warned.

“While we recognize that the CFTC is not responsible for the overall economic health of an industry, we submit that the agency does have influence over some fundamental factors that influence hedging performance,” the NGFA said.

The CFTC’s Nov. 21 proposal to increase speculative position limits would apply to wheat, corn, soybean, soybean oil, soybean meal and several other futures contracts traded on all three U.S. agricultural exchanges.

AFIA Offers Top Quality Industry Programs
Expanding on its widely recognized reputation for offering the industry’s best educational programs, the American Feed Industry Association, representing the total feed industry, will host two highly popular programs in the first half of 2008: the Annual Purchasing & Ingredient Suppliers Conference (PISC) and the Feed Industry Institute (FII).
Purchasing & Ingredient Suppliers Conference, March 5 – 7, 2008, Las Vegas, Nevada

PISC is the place where top ingredient buyers and sellers meet to share experiences, create new partnerships, and discuss purchasing and ingredient issues facing the animal feed and pet food industry, while enjoying the action of Las Vegas.

This year’s program includes:

  • World Markets: Supply and Demand of Agricultural Products
  • Marketing in a Time of Turmoil – Dr. David Downey, Purdue University
  • Insuring Ingredient Quality and Safety – Dr. Keith Behnke, Kansas State University
  • Market Outlook: Feed, Grains & Oilseeds – Richard Brock, Brock Associates
  • Market Outlook: Meat, Milk & Eggs – Mark Pearson, host of Market to Market
  • Political Outlook: Where are We Going with American Agriculture? Jay Lehr, Environmental Education Enterprises
  • Political Commentary 2008 – Kevin Rook, Attorney at Law
  • Biofuels Effects on Global Food Production – Dr. Dermot Hayes, Iowa State University
  • Nutritional Impacts of Co-Products from the Biofuel Industry – Harold Tilstra, Land O’Lakes Purina Feed
  • Feed Safety: Protecting the U.S. Feed Industry – Tom Buchino, Retired Sergeant Major, U.S. Army Special Forces

Feed Industry Institute, June 16 – 19, 2008, Chicago, Ill. Held every two years, this program is designed for feed and feed ingredient professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of the feed industry. The program features industry experts representing all segments of the industry, addressing timely issues and providing insight to a variety of topics. It is a unique opportunity for industry members to explore critical topics including:

  • Understanding the components of feed;
  • How to ensure feed safety;
  • Recognizing best practices for feed transportation, distribution and sales;
  • Comprehending international and domestic business markets and
  • Much, much more.

This is a great program to send new employees to help them develop a strong foundation about the feed industry. If you have any questions about either of these programs, feel free to contact AFIA at (703) 524-0810 or visit www.afia.org.

GEAPS Member Dirk Maier To Head Department At Kansas State
Dr. Dirk Maier of Purdue University, a member of GEAPS' Hoosier Chapter, has accepted an offer to become head of Kansas State University’s Department of Grain Science and Industry.

Maier is currently a professor and associate head and extension engineer at Purdue’s Department of Biological Engineering.

He is also director of the GEAPS-Purdue Distance Education program. In announcing his move to GEAPS International Board, Maier noted that he will remain an adjunct professor at Purdue, enabling continued involvement with the GEAPS-Purdue program. Currently its director, Maier was instrumental in creating and building the program and forming the GEAPS-Purdue partnership.

“Getting this program started with the help and support of GEAPS has been one of my most professionally satisfying experiences,” Maier said.

Maier has also been a member of GEAPS Educational Programming Committee and a speaker at GEAPS Exchanges and chapter events. He began his career at Purdue as an assistant professor and extension agricultural engineer in December 1991.

The GEAPS-Purdue distance-learning program provides focused educational opportunities for professionals in the grain-operations industry and related fields. No travel is required to participate. The courses typically contain ten lectures and last for five weeks, and students are free to do the work when it’s most convenient for them, day or night.

GEAPS Member Dave Geers Receives Top Honor From Agribusiness Group
LANSING, MICH. -- GEAPS member Dave Geers, president of Michigan Agricultural Commodities, was honored by the Michigan Agri-Business Assn. (MABA) here Jan. 15.

Geers received MABA’s annual Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes contributions to the agribusiness community, to the association, and agriculture in general.

Geers has served on several MABA Committees, including the board of directors and executive committee, and was chairman in 2006.

In receiving the award, Dave Geers followed in his father Herm’s footsteps, as the elder Geers received the same award in 1996.

It is the first father-son team to receive the Distinguished Service Award in MABA’s 100-plus-year history. The award is sponsored by Michigan Farm Radio Network.

Michigan Agricultural Commodities is the largest grain handler in Michigan.
Geers joined GEAPS in 1992, and is a member of the Grain Company Executive Advisory Council.

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