Market Matters Blog
Katie Micik DTN Markets Editor

Wednesday 02/19/14

Prepare for a Data, Demographic Deluge

My bags are packed. The laptop is fully charged. I've been exercising my hands, trying to make sure they'll type as fast as the information flies at me. I've been training my memory so that I can remember the things the "usual suspects" say. The downside of the usual suspects is that most of them can't be quoted, but the upside is they're some of the brightest minds in the business and have the pulse of what the big issues are this year.

That's right, it's time for USDA's annual conference. You remember, the big meeting of the minds. It's special this year, you see. It's time for the release of the 2012 Agriculture Census, not to mention USDA's first outlook for the new crop year.

The census release makes this conference particularly interesting this year. It'll be released at noon EST, followed by Secretary Vilsack's press conference and a whole session digging into the demographic data. The conference agenda presents a theme that's very focused on younger farmers, and with a session regarding the census called "Changing Faces: The Demographics of U.S. Agriculture, I'm willing to bet the average age of U.S. farmers has declined as more young men and women returned to their family farms. It will be interesting to learn how big/widespread this change is, if it pertains to farms of a certain size or if it's concentrated in a certain region. It'll also be interesting to learn about how the average farm size has changed. I'll be writing that story tomorrow afternoon, and even if you don't hear it from me, the release of the five-year Census data will be the news of the day. (Here's a link where it will be posted if you really, really, can't wait: www.agcensus.usda.gov.)

Then there are the always riveting outlook forecasts and presentations on Friday. USDA will release its outlook document at 7 a.m. EST. That's a bright and early 6 a.m. for folks on central time, like myself. (I'm also not an early riser, so if you see me, assume I'm wired but probably need another cup of coffee.) USDA will be posting its outlook documents here (www.usda.gov/oce/forum) at the same time they drop paper copies of the report all over the Crystal City Gateway Marriott.

After those numbers are released, there will be a grain outlook session, and I will dutifully be taking notes and adding context to the story I plan on filing very early in the morning.

Geez, I feel like I need a cup of coffee just thinking about the furious pace of the next two days.

Posted at 2:52PM CST 02/19/14 by Katie Micik
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