GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES:

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Two Brothers, Tied to the Land, Face Wrath of America's Farm Bust

Starting in 2006, the Farm Belt boomed. The use of ethanol in fuel created huge demand for corn, and consumption by a growing middle class in China drove up the need for grain used to feed livestock. After hovering between $2 and $3 a bushel for a decade, corn prices shot to more than $7 a bushel. The prices for Ron's other crops -- soybeans, wheat, beets and potatoes -- were also on the march.

Ron, who is tall and sturdy, with a dusting of grey stubble on his chin, added land, gaining efficiency and taking on debt. He paid a premium to rent the most fertile ground.

McM became a behemoth, expanding far from the McMartins' hometown of St. Thomas, population 316, a half-mile-long speck with one cafe, two bars and three churches. Its fields stretched from South Dakota to Canada along North Dakota's eastern border.

Farm Group Sees Instability in GOP Tax Bill -- Market Talk

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15:09 ET - Many farm groups have come out in support of the GOP's final tax-overhaul proposal, which expanded some exemptions from federal estate tax and improved depreciation for farm machinery, but not the National Farmers Union. The trade group bemoans the "partisan and hurried nature," of the legislation. Roger Johnson, president of the Washington-based trade group, says the bill would add $1.5T to the national debt and pressure federal spending that farmers and "everyday Americans" rely on, creating financial instability that overshadows any short-term gains. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST:

Corn, Soybean Futures Give Back Gains

Corn and soybean futures turned lower as rainfall in Argentina eased concerns about the country's crops.

Above-expectation rainfall over the weekend reduced dry patches to around 20% of Argentine corn and soybean acreage, said the Commodity Weather Group in a note to clients. That's down from as much as half in recent weeks. Rain later this week could reduce those areas further ahead of another dry turn in six to 10 days time.

Commodity Prices Set to Rise in 2018, RBC Says -- Market Talk

1159 ET - Commodity prices could be set for an upturn in 2018, RBC Capital Markets says. "Recent years have not been particularly kind" in terms of prices of the commodities in RBC's coverage, the brokerage notes. "However, as we head into next year, we are at least cautiously optimistic on prices and we note that geopolitical disruptions could be a much more consequential catalyst and possibly a material upside risk to prices." Oil prices will ebb and flow over the coming months, but RBC says it supports the notion of a rising price floor. The end of 2017 has had a notably bearish bias for gold, it adds. "Our baseline expectations for 2018 are for measured price increases, albeit with risks." (philip.waller@wsj.com)

THE MARKETS:

Cattle Futures Mixed; Supply Pressures Mount

Cattle futures started the week mixed as a cash-market rally lent some support to prices.

Physical cattle prices rose unexpectedly on Friday, with meatpackers around the country paying between $118 and $120.50 per 100 pounds on a live basis, above the prior week's level and defying expectations for a decline. Sales over the course of the week averaged at $119.66 live and $188.96 dressed.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 18, 2017 17:08 ET (22:08 GMT)