With the conclusion of Independence Day holiday weekend, it is always a time to recalibrate, be realistic, look ahead and stay optimistic.

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The first six months of 2019 provided much variation from Mother Nature to global markets that we haven’t seen in decades. Farmers and ranchers have to wonder what is next.

They saw blizzards, floods and tornadoes as the mid-year began, then earthquakes struck California, which is the nation’s No. 1 state in value of agriculture production sales at $45.2 billion and 12% of the total U.S. total, according to the recently released Census of Agriculture.

What this means is the top seven ag states—California, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota and Illinois—have all been hit hard by Mother Nature. This has caused major disruptions in the marketplace that are directly hitting the producer’s wallet. The infrastructure cost to taxpayers will be substantial, too, as those costs become quantified.

Although the first six months are in the books, producers now have to take a peek at the final six months.

A wheat farmer wonders about production in Russia. Wheat prices are about 50 cents lower in comparison to the beginning of the year when Dodge City markets indicated the price was at $4.39 a bushel. Corn and soybean farmers are looking at what might be happening in the fields of South America as their prices hover around $4 a bushel and $7.35 a bushel, respectively. Corn has gone up as major flooding in the Corn Belt has delayed or changed growers’ plans. Corn is up more than 40 cents a bushel and soybeans are down 15 cents a bushel.

Livestock producers are also on the lookout for cattle number projections in Canada, Mexico and Australia. Hog producers are watching with earnest what is happening in the Pacific Rim, and African swine fever is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

In a global marketplace, everyone has skin in the game; meanwhile trade wars have a put a lid on short-term optimism.

Still producers need to stay optimistic and look for opportunities to learn. At High Plains Journal two upcoming events can perhaps help ease the mind. Cattle U, July 31 and Aug. 1, in Dodge City, Kansas, and Sorghum U - Wheat U, Aug. 13, in Mulvane, Kansas, provide a window to gain insight.

Information for the Cattle U event is available at www.cattleu.net and information on the Sorghum U - Wheat U event is available at hpj.com/suwu.

Both events feature Journal staples—producer panels—where event-goers can learn from their contemporaries who are willing to share their experience from the ground level.

They are going to confirm that today’s challenges are in many ways unprecedented, from Mother Nature coupled with man-made decisions that have impacted production and marketing. Yet, feeding a growing and hungry world that is filled with instability also means producers have to put themselves into a position to improve their bottom line.

Put on your seat belts; the second half is likely to have as much if not more unpredictability, too, as market cycles will keep on churning and be ready when the timing is right.

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or dbergmeier@hpj.com.

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