The tree is down, decorations are packed and stored in the attic, space has been found for gifts and it’s time to return to something near normalcy, if that even exits in the world today.

Appropriately, it’s the start of the first full week back from the “holidaze” and gloomy with rain. Wonderful.

The cruddy day seems to summarize what’s been happening in agriculture as we use our 2018 calendar to help start the fireplace logs and look for something to smile about in 2019. Yes, 2018, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

We can all recall certain years in our lives for good or bad events. In agriculture, all one has to say is 2012, 1988 or 1983 and severe drought is the first thing that may come to mind.

If 2014 is mentioned, Illinois farmers may fondly recall it being the first time in history that the state’s corn yield average hit 200 bushels an acre and Indiana hit a record-high yield average of 188.

Mention the 1980s and the stomach flip-flops from thoughts of crop and livestock farmers trying to keep their heads above water. There was also 1980 when the U.S. grain embargo against the Soviet Union was put into place.

The year 2018 will be remembered as the year of the tariff and trade war and, as a result, a drop in commodity prices. It also will be remembered as the year when the federal government promised to provide some relief to farmers and ranchers through the new Market Facilitation Program.

Producers were told they have until Jan. 15 to signup for MFP. The crop production certification deadline is mid-May, but the Jan. 15 date is required to be eligible for the program.

There was then another problem. With the deadline looming, the federal government is shut down — that includes Farm Service Agency offices where one signs up for MFP — because of a wall debate.

So, we start the New Year with everything locked in neutral. Heck, the U.S. Department of Agriculture can’t even come out with its 2018 final crop production summary this week because it’s closed.

The January crop production, supply and demand, quarterly grain stocks and winter wheat seedings are some of the most important reports provided by the USDA.

The final production numbers and quarterly stocks are plugged into the supply-demand balance sheets to give a clearer look at ending stocks, that all important number that translates into price.

So, we won’t have any of the 2018 final production data until the federal government shutdown that started in 2018 ends sometime in 2019.

It’s like 2018 is the over-served obnoxious guest who shows up early and leaves late. That about sums it up.

Happy New Year.

Tom C. Doran can be reached at 815-780-7894 or Follow him on Twitter at: @AgNews_Doran.


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