It was the worst of times; it was the best of times. It was only a year ago last April 2020 that we saw some horrible prices for the commodities and livestock that we raise here in the US and sell to the rest of the world. Now, as I write we have had an amazing comeback. Lots of things have seen some massive price appreciation and agriculture is one of them. Heck, farmland prices in some parts of the country have gone up by 10% this year.
So, as you know by now, I am a Markets Anchor for RFD-TV in Nashville. I am on daily from 10:30am to 1pm reporting on agricultural markets pricing. I have been involved with agricultural investing since I got out of college. I began working on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade in 1988. It doesn’t seem like that long ago but when I say I have been in the business for 33 years it comes home to roost. In 1972 we bought a farm in Jo Daviess County in the furthermost Northwest corner of the state of Illinois. Galena, IL is right next door. It has impacted my life greatly.
We grew up as kids living and going to school right outside of Chicago in the suburb of Naperville. On weekends and holidays, we were all dragged up to our farm (My brother, sister and me) to do whatever it was my father thought needed doing. Initially we purchased just 80 acres but over the years that would grow to over 800 acres with a milking operation as well. We spent an inordinate amount of time there. If I said I didn’t like it, I would be lying. It taught me a lot. Where food comes from, what it looks like to artificially inseminate a cow and what happens to a sow when it overheats.
We purchased the farm from the Pooley family. We have now had it for almost 50 years and when I am in the local tavern, they refer to our farm as the ‘Pooley’ farm. That was the name of the family we bought it from. I often wonder how long one must live to have your farm referred to with your own last name. Our farm has never been referred to as the ‘Shellady’ farm as far as I am aware.
All the while I was helping on the farm, even into my adult years. I was still trading in the markets – 18 years in Chicago and 16 years on the trading floor in London, England. When I was home from abroad it was a natural gathering place. In England I lived in a place that looked exactly like Galena, IL – it’s an area 90 miles West of London called the Cotswolds. The terrain is hilly, just like Galena. The houses are made of local limestone, just like Galena. I was automatically drawn to the area as it reminded me of home, it reminded me of our farm. Very rural, oldy worldy and wholesome. As a matter of fact, I loved it so much I got married there.
In my travels and trading, the media began knocking on my door. My father had forged a road ahead before me. He wore the black and white Holstein cow jacket that I now wear. He wanted to make a statement and let all those that asked to know that firstly, running a dairy farm is really hard work and secondly, there was an important economic function taking place in those trading pits – we were setting the price of food. I will be forever indebted to him for all those lessons.
So here I sit. I have this unique blend of 15 years of being on the TV as the Cow Guy commenting on the financial markets on almost every major network. I still have a farm in my family, and I have traded in the pits of Chicago and London. What better place to put that all together than at RFD-TV? I get to use the media skills, my market knowledge and back it all up with my farm experience. So, I plan to use all those skills to help recall the important market issues of the day. I plan to highlight what is happening in Washington and what might affect your tax situation. Lastly, with the knowledge I have gained from the 34 years of market experience, I plan to bring home to you some ideas that may seem intimidating. I can explain things like I like to hear them. My media experience has helped me to hone those skills that will introduce new ideas to the farm producer and further effect your farm efficiencies.
In my media position, I live, eat and breathe these issues. I can’t help but be informed. We cover a lot of stuff in our newsroom. I’m not always right but it’s front and center to me every day. Osmosis helps too.
As you are aware, these agriculture and livestock markets are seeing some crazy prices and volatile times. The world is in a major state of flux and food is at the fulcrum. Add to that the politics that are taking place at home and around the world and we have a lot of things to talk about. I will cover them in this column.
Just as a little appetizer, the talking heads keep drilling home the idea that our economy is on a rocket ship of a recovery. Not so fast. If you pay attention to the economic numbers coming from our government over the last month, there are some signs of weakness. I am telling all that will listen to me that we are at an important place in our economy, and we need to keep a very keen eye on the numbers over the next 6 weeks. My concern is that we have our legislators happily spending on Capital Hill and ramming some tax hikes (historic in nature) down our throats to pay for their follies. These tax hikes will hit at just about the time that the economy may be slowing (the jury is still out on that).
Watch this space.
Shellady is a Markets Anchor for RFD-TV in Nashville.