COMMODITIES: Up on the Farm

When Congress began battling over an election-year farm bill seven months ago, the situation of the U.S. farmer was one of uncertainty. Prices of most farm commodities had hit bottom, the parity ratio had fallen to 80%. Traders, realizing that the largest U.S. farm surplus in history was jamming storage bins, sold short or shied away from the exchanges, and futures prices were shaky. But now the attitude of the farmer has changed from uncertainty to the beginnings of cautious optimism.

By last week, farm prices were 10% above January levels and the parity ratio had...

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