3 Things to Watch This Morning: Thursday, December 4

Look for 'sideways' trading for a while.

The grains ended Wednesday's session higher, buoyed by higher crude oil prices and a higher U.S. dollar despite a lack of fund buying, one analyst says. Yet, the grains turned lower in overnight trading, a sign of the times in what wil likely be sideways trading for the next few weeks. "I think the market is gearing up to trade in a sideways pattern until after the first of the year," says Cory Bratland, Kluis Commodities market analyst. "I am still watching the spreads in the soybean meal. I may sound like a broken record here, but when the bull spreads are working in the soybeans meals, our grain prices are trending higher."

It's 'form-filling' time at your FSA office.

If you're certifying your base acres for participation in the federal farm program for the coming year, you may want to get into your local FSA office soon, as some experts say it's best to take care of it before the end of the calendar year instead of waiting until February (the deadline is February 27). That may be easier said than done. "Went to my first figure-it-out farm program meeting this morning. I can't even do step 1. The August numbers the FSA office sent out was grossly wrong," says one Agriculture.com Marketing Talk adviser. There's a growing pool of resources to help with the process, though, including a couple of stops on the Web where you can get information on how to make the process easier.

Pros & cons of falling crude oil.

So, are plummeting oil prices bad or good for your farm? On one hand, they will mean lower prices for fuel and other key crop inputs – eventually, right? On the other hand, crude oil is a critical component of the outside markets affecting the grain markets, and when a bear's running through one pit, it is likely touching others. "$50 crude is not going to support $4 corn, nor $5,000 land. Better batten down the hatches and get ready for a rough ride if oil stays cheap because it's not going to be pretty," one Marketing Talk adviser says. See both sides of the issue here, and weigh in with your 2 cents' worth!