Rice Capades

What does a rice shortage in China have to do with U.S. agriculture? Hold that thought for a moment …

First off, let’s consider the state of the general economy. It’s getting harder and harder to ignore what’s going on and wondering what this might all mean for the ag retail business. On a recent business trip, I happened to flip on Bloomberg Television for a half-hour before leaving my hotel room. The negative, dire news I heard in that brief 30-minute span almost had me convinced to sell my house to avoid a money-losing mortgage and pull all my remaining money out of the shaky banking system and stuff it into a nice sturdy mattress.

It was thoroughly depressing news. But none of it affected me directly. My mortgage is fixed and my bank is still in business. Furthermore, this news won’t change the way I write stories or do my job.

This brings me back to the rice in China image I started this column with. A speaker at a trade show talked about his recent visit to a Chinese client and being invited to dinner. Since this was a long-time friend, the speaker commented on how he remembered this man’s mother always kept one bag of rice in her kitchen as a matter of course. Yet on this night, there were four bags of rice scattered around the kitchen instead of one.

“Why do you have four bags of rice?” asked the speaker.

“Because I heard there was going to be a famine,” said the mother.

“There will be now,” replied the speaker.

The message was clear — the rumor of famine caused all the mothers in this Chinese town to stock up on rice, causing a shortage to take place. Will the ag retail industry, reacting to the negative news from all around it, cause its own rice famine-like event? Let’s review the facts.

Unlike other parts of the nation’s economic base, agriculture is not begging to be saved. Ag retailers and their grower-customers made more than $100 billion during 2008. More importantly, as the world’s population continues to expand, the need for row crops to feed this group remains a high priority.

Despite these facts, the industry seems to be in a holding pattern. Grow­er-customers aren’t placing orders and retailers are afraid to stock up on inventories that might quickly lose value. Everyone, it seems, is waiting for the other guy to blink first, anticipating times will be tough in the months ahead. This could create a serious problem come spring. A sudden, last minute rush for crop inputs might severely tax the ag retail industry’s ability to meet demand and bring about the unsettled state of business everyone is hoping to avoid by standing pat.

I agree that, given the state of things, everyone needs to proceed with caution. But should the industry wait until the last minute to move ahead when, metaphorically speaking, there seems to be plenty of rice to go around? This approach can only serve to make the market even more uncertain.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
FertilizerTFI President To Give Update On Nutrient Management Efforts At Annual Conference
January 19, 2015
The Fertilizer Institute President Chris Jahn will give the keynote address at the 2015 Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference February 4. Read More
Green Valley Ag facility
Paul SchrimpfRightsizing Ag Retail
January 9, 2015
Seeking the right balance of facilities, efficiency and customer service will make our businesses stronger and, truth be told, more capable of competing effectively with the likes of Pinnacle. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
Has the app market reached a saturation point? Consider Google Play and the iTunes App Store combined have more than Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer Warehouse
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Aligned Ag Distributors
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
CropLife 100Bozeman Named SEEDWAY Chief Operating Officer
January 16, 2015
He succeeds Donald Wertman, who will retire at the end of August 2015 after 40 years with the GROWMARK subsidiary. Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis’ Craig Bair Honored For Safety Contributions To Ag Aviation
January 14, 2015
The William O. Marsh Safety Award recognizes significant achievements in safety, safety education or an outstanding operational safety program. Read More
Latest News
CropLife 100The Andersons Starts Venture Capital Subsidiary
January 26, 2015
The Andersons has established Maumee Ventures, a venture capital subsidiary designed to foster promising innovations that strategically align with the company’s core businesses. Read More
Exclusive state-of-the art Stueve Construction designed “Vista View” Elevated Control Room.
Eric Sfiligoj2015 Agricultural Market Read: Mixed
January 26, 2015
The agricultural market could look radically different this year, profit-wise, depending upon which segment you do business in. Read More
Edward Chell Biosafe
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Names Ed Chell California Territory Man…
January 26, 2015
BioSafe Systems has announced the recent addition of Ed Chell as California Territory Manager for the agrichemical division, supporting the crop protection, water treatment and food safety business segments. Read More
InsecticidesBayer CropScience Introduces Sivanto Insecticide
January 26, 2015
Sivanto precisely targets key damaging pests at multiple insect life stages to prevent damage to plants and help minimize the spread of diseases from insect carriers. Read More
ManagementRetail Collaboration, Communicating Agriculture’s Good …
January 23, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the recent creation of Aligned Ag Distributors, and the US Farmers and Ranchers Read More
FertilizerOSU Expert: Toledo Water Crisis A Turning Point For Ohi…
January 23, 2015
The August 2014 water crisis in Toledo, OH, impacted Ohioans’ views of Lake Erie algae problems by increasing the attribution of blame of algae growth on agriculture. Read More
FertilizerH.J. Baker Launching TIGER XP
January 22, 2015
Tiger-Sul introduces this next generation sulphur-bentonite product with a proprietary activator – ensuring farmers have a well-balanced nutrient replacement program. Read More
Crop InputsH.J. Baker Expands China Sales Force
January 21, 2015
Global Agricultural firm H.J. Baker announced that sales veteran Shi Dongshen has joined their Shanghai office in China. This newest hire follows the recent opening of their Lianyungang Sulphur Bentonite Plant. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Partners With Northern Partners Coop On Fertilizer …
January 21, 2015
In addition, the two companies will form a joint venture to build and operate a grain barge loading facility that will handle corn, soybeans and wheat for export through the CHS terminal at Myrtle Grove, LA. Read More
Matt Hopkins5 Bold Predictions For Ag Retail In 2015
January 21, 2015
This past year was filled with ups and downs for the nation’s top ag retailers, but what will 2015 have in store? Read More
SoftwareDeere Launches App Center
January 20, 2015
The John Deere App Center provides users the ability to search and find apps most useful to their business or operations. Read More
Crop InputsNew Syngenta Herbicide Approved In Soybeans, Sunflowers
January 20, 2015
Syngenta will sell BroadAxe XC herbicide in 2015 for use on soybeans, sunflowers and dry peas Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Move To Colorado Complete
January 20, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co. announces the opening of its new Agribusiness Division location in the Denver, CO, Metro Area. The new facility will host key personnel as the company shifts the base of its Agribusiness operations from California to Colorado. Read More
Crop InputsNovozymes Sales Figures Up For 2014
January 20, 2015
Novozymes announces its sales growth in 2014 was in line with expectations as sales grew by 7% compared with 2013. Read More
CropLife 100United Suppliers, McGregor Co., Five Others To Form Ali…
January 20, 2015
These companies will continue to operate as independently owned and operated businesses, however, their crop protection divisions will now be formally aligned under the umbrella of Aligned Ag Distributors. Read More
Eric SfiligojGMO Or DNA? LOL Or WTF?
January 19, 2015
A new survey finds the American public seems generally confused when it comes to any three-letter descriptor for their food. Read More
FertilizerAGROTAIN Wins No-Till Product Of The Year Again
January 19, 2015
This marks the 10th straight year AGROTAIN nitrogen stabilizer has been named the top product in this category; no other product has matched this honor Read More
FertilizerTFI President To Give Update On Nutrient Management Eff…
January 19, 2015
The Fertilizer Institute President Chris Jahn will give the keynote address at the 2015 Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference February 4. Read More