Weekly commodity wrap-up

Brutal heat threatens humans, entire civilization

The unprecedented heat wave hitting all of California, a wide swath of our northwest and British Columbia has come slightly sooner than climatologists predicted. We’re being served a wake-up call in the form of fatalities in Oregon, Washington and B.C, along with massive wildfires, drying reservoirs and infrastructure failures like buckling roads and power cables frying in the heat. The high temperatures are heightening fear of where and how we’ll be impacted. The arctic blast that recently hit Texas serves as yet another example of the climate crisis challenges we’re facing.

Many regions, including Siberia, that typically have high temperatures in the 70s in June, are experiencing highs approaching 120 degrees. Ironically, as people turn on air conditioners to beat the heat, more fossil fuels are burned to generate the power to cool houses and offices. And that ultimately contributes to the creation of more greenhouse gases which will, of course, cause temperatures to rise even more. The price of crude oil for delivery in August hit $75 per barrel at noon today, up about $1 for the week.

Cost of cookout stays stable

Despite record surges in housing costs, autos, wages and wild upward swings in agricultural futures, the cost of a typical Fourth of July cookout is down 16 cents per person compared to last year. As calculated by the American Farm Bureau, the average meal costs show the sharpest decline in pork and beans, ground beef and ice cream. In contrast, strawberries, buns and chocolate chip cookies posted the largest increases. The calculated cost for a cookout for 10 people was $59.50. The Bureau pointed out only 8% of every food marketing dollar goes to the farmer. August cattle brought $1.22 per pound at noon today.

Grains and livestock extremely volatile

Analysts and traders are loaded with factors to digest, such as continued drought fears in the corn belt, regional heavy rains and flooding, Wednesday’s crop reports and China trade concerns. The USDA crop reports were taken as bullish since the total planted acreage and stockpiles of corn and beans were well below average expectations. Corn exploded to the permissible limit up on Wednesday but was followed by a decline on Thursday. Hogs blasted limit up Monday but fell limit down on Thursday, adding to record turbulence to follow. December corn traded at $5.75 per bushel midday today, November beans were at $13.86, and August hogs 99 cents.

Opinions are solely the writer’s. Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan.