(Podcast) Episode 016: Was 2016/17 the Golden Age for Pulse Markets?

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The AgEconMT crew is joined by Tomas Garcia, a merchandiser at Viterra, USA who specializes in pulse crop marketing. We talk about the state of the pulse crop market today, where it’s heading in the next year, and what are the major developments to look for over the next 12-18 months. Here’s a list of specific topics that we discussed.

2:40: What’s the current outlook for pulse markets?

5:00: Projected 10-15% increase on pea acreage in northern U.S.

6:15: What are pulse prices expected to do and why? What’s happening to domestic demand?

7:15: Where is demand growing most?

9:20:  Who’s the biggest demander of lentils? South America!

10:00: Montana’s peas go to…Kentucky?!?

11:40:  What are the issues in handling and processing of pulse crops? Are there issues with transportation bottlenecks and what are the impacts on farmers and merchandisers?

14:00: Montana’s growth in pulse handling capacity is a littler slower than the industry. North Dakota growing the fastest.

15:10: What are merchandisers’ challenges when dealing with only a single rail operator?

16:25: When there’s uncertainty, merchandisers increase their “risk premium.” What does that mean for the price that farmers observe?

17:25:  Do you know what proportion of merchandisers’ variable costs are due to rail shipments? Probably more than you think.

18:50: What are the competitive dynamics of pulse crop production and marketing between the United States and Canada?

20:50:  U.S. pulses very competitive domestically, but less so in the international markets.

22:20:  How has increased uncertainty about U.S. trade policy affected industry’s outlook and actions in marketing grain?

24:00:  Lentils at $1.00 per pound? It happened! Here’s why.

27:00: Is there optimism or pessimism for the upcoming year in pulse marketing?

29:20: How has the USAID program affected pulse sales in the past year? And will this continue under?

31:30:  Producers know how to market pulse crops better! This will show up in the higher prices that they can receive.

31:45:  Geeking out:  How does an industry expert go about making the projections and establishing estimates of market prices? Here’s a hint: farmers, elevator managers, and university researchers matter!

Disclaimer: Tomas Garcia’s personal views and opinions during the podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Viterra Inc.

(Intro and outro music by Trevor Sensor)

(Photo by AZAdam is licensed under CC BY 4.0)

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About Author

Dr. Anton Bekkerman is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University, joining the faculty in 2009 after completing his PhD at North Carolina State University. Bekkerman's primary areas of research are grain marketing, basis and price forecast modeling, understanding how grain prices are affected by changes in supply chain infrastructures and quality demands, and analyzing the economic trade-offs of adopting alternative dryland cropping systems in Montana. One of his current projects is an investigation of how new grain loading technologies are affecting prices that Montana farmers receive for their wheat. Bekkerman is also examining the economic impacts that Montana's rapidly expanding dry pulse industry will have on the state's crop industry. Although Bekkerman grew up on the east coast, he has recently made a small step toward production agricultural after acquiring three backyard chickens.

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