Spring in Your Step

Maybe it’s the fact I’ve managed to survive another Minnesota winter despite several nights spent in seclusion, clinging to my remote and refrigerator, anxiously awaiting the arrival of global warming in the upper Midwest.

Spring brings with it this sense of hope and anticipation, which is sometimes best exemplified by the simple act of that first walk to the mailbox. Upon retrieving the mail, I return to my house both exhausted and exhilarated. The exhaustion clearly a byproduct of my decision to lay dormant for the better part of the last 90 days, which my wife assures me, should all but secure my second term as president of the Clean Plate Club. However, once I get past the momentary yet debilitating effects of oxygen deprivation, there is this unmistakable feeling of contentment that comes from knowing it’s once again safe to go back outside.

The transition from winter stupor to spring chicken is not without its own set of new challenges. Just ask any farmer where the advent of spring brings with it a renewed anxiety involving planting decisions, weather concerns, and unpredictable market activity. Most of whom are still recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the 2008 growing season, which included not only unprecedented price volatility in corn and soybeans but also began with the worst flood in the Midwest since the Great Flood of 1993.

Do we dare consider what the spring, summer, and fall of 2009 will bring to America’s Heartland? I have no idea. I’ll leave the weather prognosticating up to your local meteorologist. And, as far as my forward call on the corn and soybean markets, if last year taught me anything it was the value of a disclaimer. It allows commodity experts the opportunity to plead ‘insanity’ in years like 2008 after the post-mortem on prior marketing advice exposes we’re really more Clark Kent than Superman.

However, for those still yearning for some semblance of security going into this year’s growing season, I will leave you with this. Despite being short on absolutes, America’s farmers have always been long on faith. A faith that is grounded in the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen, which is far more valuable than the paper guarantees of error prone weather watchers or market analysts. I think it’s safe to assume, once again, this spring your fate is in much better hands. Now that’s a reason for optimism, a reason for a SPRING in your step.

Marcus Ludtke graduated from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn., in 2001 and started working for POET Risk Management in May of that year. His primary responsibilities include managing POET’s corn position and market research.




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