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Dec
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2017

Texas Daily Ag Market News Summary

Posted 215 days ago ago by Doug Van Pelt

Feeder cattle auctions mostly steady to higher; futures down.

Formula trades lower; Beef prices down.

Cotton prices up.

Grains and soybeans mixed.

Milk futures up.

Crude oil down; Natural gas up.

Stock markets mostly up.

 

 

 


Cattle:

Texas feeder cattle auctions were mostly steady to higher, with instances of steady to $8 higher and one instance of $5 lower. January Feeder cattle futures were down $1.45, closing at $145.65 per hundredweight (cwt). The Texas fed cattle cash trade was not active today. December Fed cattle futures were lower, falling 50 cents to close at $115.65 per cwt. Wholesale boxed beef values were down, with Choice grade losing $1.58 to close at $202.48 per cwt and Select grade losing 90 cents to close at $185.02 per cwt. Estimated cattle harvest for the week totaled 355,000, down 3,000 from last week’s total and up 11,000 from last year’s total. Year-to-date harvest is up 3.2%. 

 


Cotton:

Cotton prices were up, closing at 72.50 cents per pound and March cotton futures gaining 1.22 cents to close at 74.13 cents per pound. 

 


Corn and Grain Sorghum:

Corn prices were up, gaining 3 cents to close at $3.56 per bushel. December corn futures were up, gaining a penny, closing at $3.37 per bushel. Grain Sorghum cash prices were up, gaining 3 cents to close at $5.65 per cwt.

 


Wheat:

Wheat prices  were down, falling 4 cents to close at $3.58 per bushel. December wheat futures were up, gaining a nickel to close at $3.99 per bushel.

 


Milk:

Milk prices were up, with December Class III milk gaining a penny to close at $15.61 per cwt.

 


Stock Markets and Crude Oil:

Stock markets were mixed, with two out of the three major indexes showing gains. January Crude oil futures were down 54 cents to close at $56.60 per barrel.

 


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From Agri-pulse:

 

Lobbyist sues former crop insurance trade group

 

The crop insurance community is closely watching the outcome of an age discrimination lawsuit filed by one of the most widely-recognized lobbyists for their industry against an association that he used to manage. The case raises questions that – if allowed to stand in court - could have a broader impact on the way all trade associations hire and fire the firms that work for them.   

During his lengthy career, Michael McLeod, 76, has served as a lawyer, the general counsel and staff director for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, an author and a lobbyist. Most recently, he was paid through his firm, McLeod, Watkinson & Miller, to be the CEO of the American Association of Crop Insurers (AACI), until he was terminated in March of 2017. The yearly retainer was about $851,000 per year, according to legal documents filed as part of the case. The compensation also covered pay for other employees, including lobbyist David Graves and a receptionist, bookkeeper and other staff.

 

Soon after the termination of the AACI contract, McLeod sold his interests in the private firm, which was reorganized as Watkinson Miller.

 

Angry about his dismissal, McLeod is now suing AACI over his termination earlier this year, alleging age discrimination and that, regardless of the retainers paid to his now former law firm, AACI was actually his employer. According to McLeod’s legal action, “AACI used this arrangement to avoid paying payroll taxes and insurance on employees” and that there was never any complaint about his performance or his service to the association, which he founded in the early 1980s.

 

AACI sources declined to comment on the pending litigation, but it was no secret in crop insurance circles that some industry leaders were growing increasingly frustrated with what they felt was McLeod’s braggadocious style and sometimes unwillingness to listen to others at industry events.

 

“We tried to tell him that we wanted to move on to new leadership, but with his over-the-top ego, he just wouldn’t listen,” noted one crop insurance executive who asked not to be identified.

 

McLeod acknowledges in his complaint that AACI board members asked him for a succession plan in July 2016, but that no rationale was initially given. He said his original thought was to protect his key employee on the account, David Graves, 73, who McLeod said was paid $320,000 per year. However, he claims that AACI “felt that his age limited his physical and mental health” and that, ultimately, David Graves “undermined” him.

 

Graves declined to comment for this story.

 

After McLeod was terminated, AACI hired David Graves to help as they transitioned to a new firm, Williams & Jensen. Scott Graves (no relation to David), who formerly served as Chairman Mike Conaway’s majority staff director on the House Agriculture Committee, became their key association contact at Williams & Jenson.

 

McLeod seeks up to five years of pay, punitive damages of $2.5 million and damages for “emotional distress and humiliation” arising from the termination, as determined by a jury.

 

Asked about McLeod’s pending lawsuit, Rep. Collin Peterson, D- Minn., said he thought his long-time industry friend got “a raw deal.”

 

“He’s been a good guy and a tremendous advocate for agriculture. Maybe he should have gone earlier, I don’t know. Members can get by with it, but lobbyists have a harder time."

 

Regardless of the outcome of the case, it probably won’t be the last time McLeod speaks out about the crop insurance industry and its key players. He tells Agri-Pulse that he’s currently writing a history of the federal crop insurance program, complete with pieces of information that he hopes to make public even sooner if his case goes to a jury trial.