Highly regarded economist and commodity trader Dennis Gartman stunned a large crowd of farmers at the recent North Carolina All Commodity Conference by saying he is bullish on cotton and bearish on corn — a sharp divergence from most agricultural economists.

“What I tell you this morning is what I’m doing with my money and right now I’m buying cotton and selling corn,” Gartman says.

The Suffolk, Va.,-based economist, who publishes the highly valued Gartman Report, says he is also strong on wheat and his position on soybeans changes from day to day.

“One of the basic things I’ve learned in more than 35 years of trading commodities is you always buy things other people don’t want and right now nobody seems to want cotton.

“The other thing is to sell what people want and right now everyone seems to want to buy corn,” he says.

He contends corn is heading for a bear market because acreage will increase this year, some of it at the expense of cotton. At the current price of corn, even bad farmers can make money growing corn, and more corn will be planted, Gartman says.

“The U.S. ethanol industry, a big user of corn in recent years is going broke. The dumbest piece of legislation we have ever passed in the U.S. is the ethanol program. If it weren’t for the fact that U.S. presidential campaigns start in Iowa there would not be an ethanol program in the U.S.,” he adds.

“In the U.S. we are finding oil and natural gas at such a rapid pace that in a very few years the U.S. will become a net exporter of energy.

“If ethanol has to compete with an ever-increasing supply of crude oil and natural gas and ever-increasing efficiency of automobiles and other gas-using vehicles, the industry will fail. If that happens the price of corn will fall,” he adds.