The Journal Gazette
Friday, November 20, 2020 1:34 pm

Column: COVID-19 Thanksgiving lowers prices, raises gratitude

WALT BREITINGER | Breitinger & Sons LLC

The meal on your Thanksgiving table will cost 4% less this year with demand for birds and beef declining as folks hunker down, avoiding feasts and festivities with friends and relatives.

Live cattle prices crashed on additional concerns about supply chain disruptions and packing plant shutdowns related to COVID-19. Canceled trips to grandma's house also hurt demand for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, keeping a lid on those commodities as well.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to all the farmers, ranchers, miners and producers of other commodities we use every day for continuing to work so hard to maintain our quality of life while feeding, clothing and housing much of the world that is less fortunate than we are.

We would also like to thank all our first responders and healthcare workers who continue to fight for our safety and well-being not only during this pandemic but year-round even in “normal” times.

Droughts drive crop prices higher

Severe dry weather in both North and South America is continuing to threaten production of corn, wheat, soybeans and other crops. Approximately 76% of the western United States is experiencing exceptional drought while major soybean producers Brazil and Argentina are experiencing extreme dry weather as well.

Beans for January delivery gained 35 cents per bushel compared to last Friday, trading at $11.83, while December corn was up 13 cents, trading at $4.23

Lumber boosted by charge to suburbs

The pandemic has exacerbated the problems with city living accompanied by crime, high taxes, pollution and congestion. Strong housing starts were announced Wednesday, while single-family home sales, announced Thursday, exploded to a 14-year high.

Much of the housing demand was attributed to the rise in electronic learning, remote meetings and home offices in suburbs while the 40-year low in mortgage rates continues to help affordability.

Lumber and copper, both used in new-home construction, made new highs this week after going up for the last six weeks. Lumber for January delivery traded at $632 per thousand board feet, while December copper jumped to $3.29 per pound.

Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso. He can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.

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