Category Archives: Agricultural Exports News

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3 Big Things Today, January 27, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Plunge Overnight on Coronavirus Fears

Soybean and grain futures plunged in overnight trading on continued concerns about how the coronavirus outbreak that’s spread globally will affect demand.

Eighty deaths have been reported in China out of the almost 2,800 cases that have been confirmed, Reuters reported. The U.S., Australia, Taiwan, and Macau have each reported five cases, while Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore have all reported four cases.

France, Vietnam, and Nepal also have reported cases of the disease.

China’s Economist Intelligence unit said late last week that the virus could cut 0.5 to 1 percentage point from the Chinese economy.

The U.S. and China just signed a trade deal before the disease outbreak was discovered in which the Asian country agreed to increase purchases of agricultural products. Investors, traders, and producers are anxiously awaiting evidence of the bump in buying.

Soybean futures for March delivery dropped 12¢ to $8.90 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures lost $2 to $296.30 a short ton, and soy oil declined 1.01¢ to 31.01¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery lost 6¼¢ to $3.81 a bushel.

Wheat futures for March delivery plunged 11¾¢ to $5.61¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures lost 8¼¢ to $4.77¾ a bushel.

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2. Speculative Investors Raise Bearish Bets on Soybeans, More Positive on Wheat

Money managers raised their bearish bets in soybeans to the highest level in almost a month last week amid concerns about the coronavirus’s impact on demand.

Investors held 19,341 net-short positions, or bets on lower prices, in the week that ended on January 21, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

That’s the largest bearish position in soybeans since the seven days that ended on December 24, the CFTC said in a report.

Speculators reduced their net-short positions in corn, however, to 65,890 futures contracts last week, the lowest level since October.

In wheat, speculators were much more bullish, raising their net-long positions, or bets on higher prices, in soft red winter wheat futures contracts to 39,286, the CFTC said. That’s up from 26,857 contracts a week earlier and the largest such position since August 2018.

Investors also bumped their net-long positions in hard red winter futures contracts to 9,617 last week, up from 6,524 seven days earlier and the largest bullish position since October 2018, the agency said in its report.

The weekly Commitment of Traders Report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows trader positions in futures markets.

The report provides positions held by commercial traders, or those using futures to hedge their physical assets; noncommercial traders, or money managers (also called large speculators); and nonreportables, or small speculators.

A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

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3. Winter Storm Watch Issued For Kansas, Oklahoma Where 9 Inches of Snow May Fall

A winter storm watch is in effect for south-central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma this morning, according to the National Weather Service.

“Heavy, wet snow” is expected in the region starting late tonight and continuing through early tomorrow morning, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

From 4 to 9 inches of snow are possible in the region, with the heaviest amounts forecast along the border between the states. Travel is expected to become difficult.

In eastern Iowa and western Illinois, meanwhile, a winter weather advisory is in effect until 9 a.m., the agency said.

Freezing drizzle, dense fog, and accumulations of ice are already occurring in the area, which likely will affect travel. Conditions improved as of about 5:45 a.m. local time for some of the affected counties, though temperatures are now below freezing, which could slow travel, the NWS said.

What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 17-24

Byline:

This week’s top national news centered around the USDA and trade war payments.

With spring on the horizon, Fendt also unveiled a new planter.

This week also saw updates from the dairy industry’s status with a top coffee company and news from the Iowa Pork Congress.

To catch up on any other recent news, check out the Successful Farming editors’ work from last week.

Read more: What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 10-17

More MFP coming soon to a farm near you

A third tranche of Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments could be on its way this year to U.S. farmers and ranchers affected by the trade war with China, according to Stephen Censky, deputy secretary at the USDA.

Censky told reporters in a press conference after his speech at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit on Thursday, Jan. 16, that the third installment of the payments is under consideration. If it is made, he stated, the third tranche would total $3.625 billion, which is the remaining 25% of the $14.5 billion set aside for the MFP.

Read more here.

A farmer overlooks his farm as the sunsets.
iStock: Jevtic

Dim ag outlook kicks off 2020 Farm Bureau Convention

AUSTIN, Texas -- Prices for commodities from corn to soybeans to wheat are poised to get a boost from the new trade agreement signed by China and the U.S. this week.

Yet caution remains about whether that demand can outpace an expected increase in supply in 2020, after farming suffered a “terrible production year” in 2019.

Read more here.

A walk around the new Fendt Momentum planter

A small group of farmers, dealers, and media got the first glimpse of the new Momentum planter from Fendt this week in Peoria, Illinois. Bob Crain, senior vice president and general manager of the Americas, says by combining Precision Planting technology with a smart toolbar, the company has created “the most agronomically advanced planter in the industry, bar none.”

Engineering manager Rex Schertz says, “Momentum is designed to consistently place every seed at the optimal depth and spacing regardless of variations in soil moisture, soil type, residue levels, terrain, or operating speed. It is built to help mimimize compaction and eliminate pinch rows, as well as reduce the frequency of downtime for refills or configuration changes and cleanout when switching crops.”

Read more here.

Prestage Foods of Iowa to negotiate a price for pigs in Feb

Iowa Pork Congress kicked off today in Des Moines, and Successful Farming caught up with Eric Hogle (right), director of livestock procurement with Prestage Foods of Iowa, to get an update on the company’s new pork plant near Eagle Grove.

SF: What's your message to pork producers today?

EH: We have another marketing opportunity for them. When you have an extra load here and there, we can negotiate a price and get them in the door. By the second week of February, we will have approval from the USDA Ag Marketing Service that the price we pay for pigs will be reported under the mandatory price reporting statutes. Our goal is to buy 10% to 15% of all of our pigs on the spot market.

Read more here.

A ticker board showing price movement for wheat, corn, and oats.
iStock: PashaIgnatov

Charts tell farmers that now is not the time to be pessimistic, analyst says

Last week we had our China-U.S. trade deal signing ceremony.

Under the agreement, China is expected to buy $200 billion more U.S. product than it did in 2017. This buying pattern is supposed to last for the next two years, in return for $32 billion dollar of tariffs to come off Chinese imports. 

Read more here.

Largest U.S. farm group supports higher THC limit for industrial hemp

The government should triple the level of THC permitted in industrial hemp and give farmers three times as long to harvest a field after it is tested, said national convention delegates in voting on American Farm Bureau Federation policy on Tuesday.

Both provisions are sore points with growers, who say USDA regulations, setting a 0.3 THC limit and allowing 15 days to harvest after samples are collected for testing, are so stringent that many farmers will fail them.

Read more here.

President Donald Trump smiling at a campaign rally.
Gage Skidmore

As Senate passes USMCA, Trump tells farmers to remember the trade war money

As President Trump scored his second trade victory in two days, Senate approval of the new NAFTA, he asked farmers on Thursday to remember the billions of dollars they had received in trade war payments. The Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement a day after Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He signed the Phase One agreement to de-escalate the Sino-U.S. trade war.

The USMCA is expected to generate modest increases in U.S. food and ag exports while preserving duty-free access for most U.S. farm goods to Mexico and Canada, a provision in place since NAFTA took effect in 1994. Mexico ratified the tri-national pact last summer. Canada is expected to act on it soon, which would complete the approval process. Senators passed a USMCA implementation bill 89-10, with Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, a proponent, announcing passage while temporarily presiding over the Senate.

Read more here.

It's boom or bust for the pork industry in 2020. Watch out for the 4th quarter

2020 will be the best of times or the worst of times for the U.S. swine industry, says economist Steve Meyer, Kerns and Associates. Successful Farming caught up with Meyer at the Iowa Pork Congress to see what he forecasts for the year.

SF: What’s top of mind today for the swine industry?

SM: Continued uncertainty about China and the certainty of high hog numbers this fall with not enough places to kill them. We are still growing the sow herd. We haven't slowed down.

Read more here.

Prices plummet on trucks

A spending spree egged on by higher demand for trucking the past several years has had a head-on crash with the trade war. Until this spring, sales of both new and used Class 7 and 8 semitrucks were booming.

The trade war, however, has slowed demand for trucking, and a glut of 5- and 6-year-old trucks hit dealer and auction lots this past fall. “Dealers are reporting continued declines in used truck prices and growing truck inventories,” observes Steve Tam of ACT Research, a firm that focuses on commercial vehicle and freight industries. “Some truck dealers and truckers have been unpleasantly surprised that the rate of decline in truck prices has not slowed. The silver lining in the softer used truck market is that there are some bargains for savvy truckers and smart truck dealers now, compared with the overheated market we saw last year.” 

Read more here.

Secretary Perdue unsure when third MFP payment will hit mailboxes

AUSTIN, Texas -- As the Trump administration promises the third tranche of its Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payment is coming soon, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says the administration is “hoping and expecting” that recent and upcoming trade deals will mean further MFP payments won’t be necessary.

In particular, Perdue says he thinks the Phase One agreement with China announced last week, which the administration expects will bring as much as $80 billion in purchases over the next two years, will curb the need for supplementing farmers’ income. MFP payments are intended to financially assist farmers and ranchers who have been directly and adversely impacted by foreign retaliatory tariffs imposed because of the trade war with China, and a the third upcoming payment has been estimated at $3.625 billion.

Read more here.

Starbucks plans to hold the milk

Yesterday, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, published a letter to partners, customers, and stakeholders outlining plans to make the company more sustainable in the coming decade. 

“Our aspiration is to become resource positive, storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use,” he wrote.

Read more here.

More trade-war payments 'coming very quickly,' Trump tells farmers

In his third appearance in three years before the largest U.S farm group, President Trump told cheering farmers that they will get a final round of $3.6 billion in trade-war payments despite trade deals intended to spur money-making ag exports. Trump pointed to an upturn in farm income, aided greatly by federal subsidies in 2018 and 2019, and predicted on Sunday, “the big stuff is yet to come.”

Farm exports to China will triple under the Phase One agreement signed last Wednesday, while the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, approved by the Senate on Thursday, “will massively boost exports” to the U.S. neighbors, Trump said during a speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Interwoven with Trump’s list of victories in trade negotiations and opening markets abroad were reminders of the billions of dollars sent to farmers to offset the tariffs imposed on other nations in response to Trump’s policy of trade confrontation.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Making Financial Adjustments

We are several years into a trying economic environment for agriculture. Net farm income is an important measure of the profitability of your farm business. A strategy of hoping prices improve isn’t really a strategy.

Rod Hebrink is the president and CEO of Compeer Financial. He advises farmers to know what changes they need to make in their operation to adjust to the reality of revenue levels.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Farmer Gift Ideas with the Shark Farmer

3 Big Things Today, January 24, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Drop on Fears Coronavirus Will Hurt Demand

Soybeans and grains were lower on concerns about the spreading coronavirus in China that could end up affecting demand.

China has put travel restrictions on more than 35 million people amid government reports that put the death toll from the disease at 26. More than 800 cases of coronavirus have been detected.

The news out of China have led the country to reportedly cancel the Lunar New Year celebrations in Beijing and closed Shanghai Disneyland in a bid to stop the spread of the disease.

It’s not just commodities that are feeling the effects of the contagion; stocks globally have decline the past few days as fears of the disease spread.

China’s Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report Thursday that the spread of the disease could have a “significant” effect on not only the Chinese economy but elsewhere, the South China Morning Post reported. The virus could cause a decline of 0.5 to 1 percentage point in the Chinese economy, the report said.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 3½¢ to $9.06 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures lost 40¢ to $298.50 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.24¢ to 32.24¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery dropped 2½¢ to $3.91¼ a bushel.

Wheat futures for March delivery fell 4½¢ to $5.76 a bushel, while Kansas City futures lost 3¼¢ to $4.89 a bushel.

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2. Ethanol Production Drops to Lowest in More Than Two Months; Stockpiles Jump

Ethanol production fell to the lowest level in more than two months, while stockpiles surged to the highest since July.

Output of the biofuel in the seven days that ended on January 17 were reported at an average of 1.049 million barrels a day, according to the Energy Information Administration.

That’s down from an average of 1.095 million barrels a day and the lowest since the week that ended on November 15, the EIA said in a report.

None of the regions saw gains last week. In the Midwest, by far the biggest-producing region, output averaged 974,000 barrels a day, down from 1.012 million barrels a day the previous week.

East Coast production averaged 24,000 barrels a day, down from 28,000 barrels a week earlier, Gulf Coast output came in at an average of 21,000 barrels a day, down from 25,000, and West Coast production averaged 15,000 barrels a day, down from 16,000 barrels the previous week, the agency said.

Output in the Rocky Mountain region was unchanged at 14,000 barrels a day, on average, the EIA said.

Stockpiles, meanwhile, jumped to 24.031 million barrels in the seven days through January 17.

That’s up from 23.006 million a week earlier and the highest level since July 26, the agency said in its report.

In other news, the USDA will release its weekly Export Sales Report this morning, a day late due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday.

Analysts have pegged corn sales from 700,000 to 1.2 million metric tons, soybean sales from 700,000 to 1.3 million metric tons, and wheat sales from 300,000 to 800,000 metric tons, according to researcher Allendale.

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3. Winter Weather Continues as More Snow Forecast For Parts of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois

Winter weather continues in much of the central Midwest as a winter weather advisory is in effect for much of Missouri and parts of Iowa and Illinois, according to the National Weather Service.

In central Missouri and west-central Illinois, another 2 inches of snow are expected today, the NWS said in a report early this morning. Road conditions likely will become slippery.

In eastern Iowa and western Illinois, another 2 inches also are likely to fall today. Another round of snow may develop tonight with another 3 inches possible in northwestern Illinois heading into the weekend, the NWS said.

Light snow is expected to continue Saturday morning in the area.

In eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, meanwhile, wet snow on the ground could freeze and create hazardous driving conditions, the agency said. Some light snow is possible today through southwestern Iowa, though accumulations are expected to be minimal.

3 Big Things Today, January 23, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans Lower Overnight as Investors Eye Export Sales

Soybeans were lower, as investors await the delayed export sales report and as Brazil is expected to increase output this year.

The USDA’s weekly Export Sales Report won’t come out until Friday – a day later than usual – due to the Monday holiday.

The report is the best indicator of demand, and traders are awaiting news on whether China has stepped up its purchases of U.S. agricultural supplies after the signing of a trade deal between the countries, which are the world’s two largest economies.

Soybean prices also may be under pressure after Agroconsult said producers in Brazil will increase their output year to year.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 4¢ to $9.09¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures rose 10¢ to $298 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.35¢ to 32.67¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 1¢ to $3.89¾ a bushel.

Wheat futures for March delivery gained 4¼¢ to $5.82 a bushel, while Kansas City futures rose 2½¢ to $4.95 a bushel.

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2. Brazilian Soybean Production Expected to Jump Year Over Year

Brazilian soybean production likely will be higher than the previous year, according to consultancy Agroconsult.

Farmers in the South American country are now expected to harvest 124.3 million metric tons of the oilseeds, up from 119 million metric tons last year, analysts from the firm said.

So far, only a very small percentage of the crop – less than 2% – has been harvested, though some farmers reported they’d presold as much as 80% of their crop, according to Reuters.

The news report said none of the farmers it spoke with had sold less than half their crop.

Agroconsult data comes from a survey conducted last week.  

In other news, the Energy Information Administration’s weekly Ethanol Production and Stockpiles Reports and the USDA’s weekly Export Sales Report all are delayed until Friday due to Monday’s holiday.

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3. Winter Weather Advisories in Effect in Much of Missouri, Parts of Iowa, Nebraska

Winter weather advisories are in effect for much of Missouri and parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, and southern Arkansas, as snow continues to fall in the region, according to the National Weather Service.  

In northern Missouri, another winter storm will move into the area today with “light to moderate” snow forecast, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Another 1 to 2 inches are expected in eastern Kansas, while central and western Missouri could see up to 4 inches, the agency said.

In eastern Nebraska, a winter weather advisory is in effect until 9 p.m. local time, as another inch of snow is forecast on top of what’s already on the ground.

Road conditions are expected to be slippery, the NWS said in its report.

Starbucks plans to hold the milk

Byline:

Yesterday, Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, published a letter to partners, customers, and stakeholders outlining plans to make the company more sustainable in the coming decade. 

“Our aspiration is to become resource positive, storing more carbon than we emit, eliminating waste, and providing more clean freshwater than we use,” he wrote.

The first action item on Johnson’s list reads, “We will expand plant-based options, migrating toward a more environmentally friendly menu.”

In an interview with Bloomberg News discussing the company’s efforts, Johnson said, “Alternative milks will be a big part of the solution. The consumer-demand curve is already shifting.” Starbucks currently offers dairy alternatives including soy, coconut, and almond milk. Oat milk is also available in some areas. According to Business Insider, Starbucks uses more than 93 million gallons of milk per year.

The company’s environmental impact report lists animal protein as its highest contributor to carbon and water usage. Starbucks says dairy made up 21% of its carbon footprint in 2018.

In a response to the Starbucks announcement, Krysta Harden, the executive vice president of global environmental strategy for Dairy Management, Inc., writes, “We share Starbucks’ commitment to environmental sustainability. In fact, in 2008, the U.S. dairy community was the first agricultural sector to commission a full lifecycle assessment to understand our environmental footprint, which showed that fluid milk accounts for only 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Since then, due to innovative farm practices and new technologies, the environmental impact of producing a gallon of milk in 2017 shrunk significantly since 2008, involving 31% less water, 21% less land, and a 20% smaller carbon footprint.”

Johnson listed other ways the company plans to improve its environmental practices, including shifting to reusable packaging, focusing on regenerative agriucltural practices, better managing waste, and developing more eco-friendly stores and operations, but Harden argues dairy can be part of a sustainable way forward.

“Dairy can and will play an important role in achieving sustainability in supply chains and global food production,” she says. “From an environmental and nutrition standpoint, it is not an either-or; both plants and animals play a critical role in the health of the people and the planet. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to making environmental progress and frankly, it will take public-private partnerships and value-chain collaborations to achieve greater collective and positive impact. U.S. dairy is committed to doing its part and will soon be sharing a framework for achieving meaningful progress in carbon neutrality, soil and water health.”

Dairy Managment, Inc., is funded by dairy farmers in the U.S. and dairy importers. It manages the National Dairy Council and American Dairy Association.

3 Big Things Today, January 22, 2020

Byline:

1. Ag Markets Trend Higher, Dollar Lower

In early trading, March corn futures are 2¢ higher at $3.90. 

March soybean futures are 2¼¢ higher at $9.18¾.

March wheat futures are 9¢ higher at $5.90.

In the outside markets, the U.S. dollar is lower, and the Dow Jones Industrials are 94 points higher.

Al Kluis, Kluis Advisors, says wheat is leading the markets this week.

“We have seen wheat climb and climb, while corn tries to follow. Will we see corn slide further when wheat finally sees a pull-back? A lack of news should give the bears an edge over the short term,” Kluis stated in a daily note to customers.

Kluis added, “The forecast for dry areas of Brazil and Argentina are slated to get some much-needed moisture. Traders are still expecting to see a large crop from South America once harvest gets under way.”

READ MORE: Ag markets move higher Wednesday

2. Demand Is Becoming Key For The Commodities Markets

Britt O’Connell, cash advisor at Commodity Risk Management Group, says investors have sold the ag markets, based on the U.S.-China trade agreement being signed.

However, now the market watchers are waiting for actual sales and eyeing South America’s favorable crop weather.

“I believe this soybean market may now will be in a vulnerable position. There was much buildup coming into the new year around the signing of Phase One of the China trade deal. You’re seeing a  classic case of buy the rumor, sell the fact,” O’Connell says.  

O’Connell added, “As so often happens in grain markets and life, the unknown carries a greater value than the known. That is why oftentimes we see a bearish move to a bullish announcement.  With a very large South American crop – maybe a record – coming upon us, the market seems content in familiar territory.”

Meanwhile, the USDA released its Export Inspection Report Tuesday. USDA's Weekly Export Inspection Report shows weak numbers:

  • Corn: 346,000 tons vs. a range of 450-800,000 tons 
  • Soybeans: 1.19 million tons vs. a range of 600,000-1.2 million tons
  • Wheat: 435,000 tons vs. a range of 400,000-600,000 tons 

The USDA will release its Weekly Export Sales Report on Friday, delayed one day due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.


3. More Snow Headed to the Midwest

Across the central U.S., a mixture of precipitation types will occur over the next couple of days, according to the National Weather Service.

“As warm and moist air from the south meets with existing cold air in place through the Central Plains and Midwest,” NWS meteorologist stated Wednesday.

All rain will occur from southern Oklahoma/Arkansas to the Gulf Coast, with locally heavy rain for the middle and upper Texas coastline this evening and Wednesday night, according to the NWS.

“Freezing rain accumulations near .10 inch or greater will impact portions of the Ozarks where a winter weather advisory is in place. In fact, winter weather advisories extend north from the Ozarks into the nation's Heartland and Upper Midwest, where light to moderate snowfall accumulations are forecast through Thursday morning,” NWS forecasters stated.

After the initial round of precipitation moves through, a second, more potent upper-level disturbance will amplify through Kansas and Oklahoma toward the Mississippi Valley for Thursday, according to the NWS three-day forecast.

NWS forecasters added, “Additional snow for central Missouri and Iowa may generate two-day snowfall totals of 4 to 6 inches in some locations.”

3 Big Things Today, January 21, 2020

Byline:

1. Ag Markets Trend Lower, Dollar Higher

In overnight trading, March corn futures 2¢ lower at $3.86.  

March soybean futures are 5¢ lower at $9.24¾.

 March. wheat futures are 1½¢ higher at $5.72.

In the outside markets, the U.S. dollar is higher, and the Dow Jones Industrials are seen higher.

Al Kluis, Kluis Advisors, says the market bulls hope for a trade deal bump.  

“After the washout last Thursday, grain prices ended Friday in a much better spot than many traders expected. Futures opened slightly higher last night and have since drifted quietly lower. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal will be signed by the president this week. The grain bulls are hoping the signing will also involve the announcement of new export sales,” Kluis told customers in daily note.

Kluis added, “The news burden is with the bulls over the short term. The bulls need to see friendly news headlines nearly every day or run the risk of the bears gaining traction.”

READ MORE: Soybeans sink 9¢ Tuesday


2. President Trump Visits American Farm Bureau Federation Convention

Over the weekend, President Trump took a victory lap in Austin, Texas, while speaking to the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention.

On the heels of announcing new trade agreements last week that the White House says will bring billions of dollars to U.S. farmers and the agriculture industry, President Trump told a supportive agriculture industry crowd that they stand to benefit the most.

Congress, last week, approved a revised North American Free Trade Agreement known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement—a day after the U.S. House of Representatives sent articles of impeachment of President Trump to the Senate—which Trump is expected to sign this week.

The White House also announced Phase One of a trade deal with China last week that it estimates will bring as much as $80 billion in purchases over the next two years.

Trump also celebrated other recent deals made with Japan on agricultural products, Brazil for wheat and ethanol, the European Union for beef exports, and other countries. He cited another victory by ensuring that oil refiners must add a minimum of 15 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels to the U.S. gasoline and diesel supply.

READ MORE: More trade-war payments 'coming very quickly,' Trump tells farmers 


3. Warmer Temperatures Headed To The Midwest

David Tolleris, WXRisk.com, says that warmer weather could be headed to the Midwest, this week, while much-needed rain falls in South America. “Over the weekend, a major winter storm hit most of the central and northern Corn Belt. Now, warmer and more seasonal weather is forecast for this week and most of next week,” Tolleris stated in a daily note to customers.

Meanwhile, trade attention is focused on South America, he says.

“Over the last 72 hours, much of Brazil received much-needed rain. Argentina was mostly dry, with some extreme heat in central Argentina. The forecasts are for major rain of 7 to 10 inches of rain in many areas of central Brazil later this week,” Tolleris stated in a note to customers.

The extended forecasts for week one and week two bring more rain into most of Brazil, while central and northern Argentina stay very dry, he says.

What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 10-17

Byline:

A week ago the USDA released a production report for U.S. corn and soybean production. The results caused markets to adjust and gained the attention of many farmers.

Last Friday also received a Phase One update from President Trump. The international interest carried into this week with interest around Brazil's corn and the country's relationship with Iran.

If you missed anything in last week's news, the Successful Farming staff has you covered, too. 

Read more: What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 3-10

The USDA logo

1. USDA raises U.S. 2019 corn, soybean production

DES MOINES, Iowa —- The U.S. farmers grew a bigger 2019 corn crop than the trade and the government thought.

As a result, the CME Group’s farm markets fell hard and then recovered Friday, following the 11:00 a.m. CT release of the USDA’s January Crop Production, Supply/Demand, Quarterly Grain Stocks and WASDE Reports.

Read more here.

2. When USDA stops paying rent, idled land usually goes back into crops

A Reagan-era creation, the CRP is the largest U.S. land retirement program, paying landowners an annual rent if they idle environmentally fragile cropland for 10 to 15 years. But when the contracts expire, most of the land goes back into crop production, says a USDA report that examines the budgetary and land stewardship implications of land leaving the reserve.

The USDA paid $1.8 billion in rent to owners of the 22 million acres enrolled in the reserve in fiscal 2019. The 2018 farm law raised the ceiling on enrollments to 27 million acres and a “general” sign-up, allowing owners to offer large tracts for enrollment, runs until February 28. Contracts expire on 5.4 million acres on September 30, so there could be a large turnover in the reserve as well as an overall increase in the size of the CRP.

Read more here.

3. The new math of weed management

It’s based on estimates provided by Pat Tranel, a University of Illinois (U of I) weed scientist. Ready? 

In 2017, Illinois had 22 million acres of corn and soybeans, 75% of which — 16.5 million were infested with waterhemp. So how many waterhemp plants will take root and grow the next year?

Read more here.

4. Why Jay Hill Wears a Cap with His Name on It

“Are you doing this for your kids, so they can inherit your debt?” farmer Jay Hill asks a convention hall full of his peers at the recent Farmer 2 Farmer event in Omaha, Nebraska. If that’s not your goal, it’s time to think seriously about your farm’s future, he says. 

While many in agriculture are proud of their multigenerational heritage, farmers can no longer do things the way they always have. That’s why Hill has changed how he thinks about his own operation.

Read more here.

A corn field with an ethanol plant in the background.
iStock: photosbyjim

5. Ethanol industry's founding fathers look for buyers – again

Grain industry giant Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) is negotiating with less than five possible purchasers or potential joint venture partners for all or a share of its three dry mill ethanol plants, according to a January 9 report from Bloomberg News that quoted ADM Chief Executive Officer Juan Luciano.

ADM’s desire to exit the industry, or play a much smaller role, has to be a bitter pill for the U.S. ethanol industry to swallow, given that ADM was the first large-scale ethanol producer in the U.S and dominated the U.S. ethanol industry in the late 1970s and 1980s, when it produced an estimated 70% of the ethanol made in the U.S. before the farmer-owned, cooperative ethanol plant movement took root in the Upper Midwest and diluted ADM’s market share.

Read more here.

6. Phase One With China is 'Pretty Much All For the Farmers,' Says Trump

With China confirming that it will sign a Phase One trade agreement next week, President Trump said on Thursday that the pact, with provisions for China to buy up to $50 billion a year in farm exports, “is pretty much all for the farmers.” Meanwhile, the outlook darkened for a twin Trump trade victory — final congressional approval of the new NAFTA  — next week.

“Phase One is a phenomenal deal. It could be up to $50 billion in farm product,” said the president at the White House. “That’s numerous times more than they were buying in the past.” Before the trade war, China was the largest customer for U.S. ag exports, with purchases averaging $21 billion a year. The USDA has forecast sales of $11 billion to China this year.

Read more here.

7. First Drought, Now Iran Retaliates Against Brazil's Corn Crop

RIO GRANDE DO SUL, Brazil -- Just as Brazilian farmers experience a drought with this year’s corn crop, global events this week bring even worse news.

Iran has announced it will no longer purchase corn from Brazil. On an annual basis, Iranians buy $2.2 billion worth of corn, soybeans, and beef from Brazil. That is a retaliation after Brazilian president Bolsonaro stood on U.S. President Donald Trump’s side following a recent killing of an Iranian military leader.

Read more here

8. Top 10 red flags for farmers using 1031 exchange

DES MOINES, Iowa — More and more farmers and landowners want to know how to use the Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 (known as section 1031 exchange) to defer taxes and build wealth on the purchase of replacement property.

While not widely understood, the details of transacting a 1031 exchange can be sifted through by use of a qualified intermediary.

Read more here.

9. Early signs of spring for the farm economy

Cautious lenders rarely make wild predictions of a boom ahead. But after five years of losses and tight margins for grain producers, one of them thinks that 2020 is likely to be a better than the year that just ended.

“We are guardedly optimistic as we look forward,” Jim Knuth, senior vice president at Farm Credit Services of America said Tuesday at the Land Expo 2020 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Read more here.

10. U.S. farmers expected to get third tranche of trade aid despite Phase 1 Deal – Perdue

WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (Reuters) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he expected U.S. farmers to receive a third and final tranche of trade-related payments even after a Phase 1 trade deal with China was signed, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

Washington and Beijing signed the pact on Wednesday, setting trade tensions between the two economic giants on pause, though some major outstanding issues remain.

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Sequestering Carbon

Atmospheric carbon dioxide is a factor in fueling climate change and extreme weather swings.

Regenerative farming practices such as no-till and cover crops can sequester this atmospheric carbon dioxide, enrich the soil and reduce input costs.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

Farmer Tool Gift Ideas with the Shark Farmer

Whither the green revolution: vectors in world agriculture

Byline:

Thomas Lumpkin, director general emeritus of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), challenged the audience at the Land Expo 2020 on Tuesday to think of the earth as a petri dish.

Then, he said, visualize that all the people living on the earth are the inoculants mindlessly consuming all the petri dish’s resources. That, he concluded, is what is happening today as the world’s population of an estimated 7.8 billion people consumes the earth’s resources.

Assuring that all the people on earth have enough for a good life is a challenge that will require global leadership, Lumpkin stated, the kind of leadership that was provided by one of Lumpkin’s heroes, Norman Borlaug.

Borlaug, who was born and raised on a farm in northeast Iowa, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 because of his work developing the so-called Miracle Wheat at CIMMYT’s Mexico research centers. That ushered in the Green Revolution and prevented the starvation deaths of an estimated 1 billion people.

Lumpkin also cited another one of his heroes: Henry Wallace, also an Iowa native and a founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., which made its first commercial hybrid seed corn available in 1926. Wallace went on to serve as secretary of agriculture and vice president in the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. He was a candidate for president in 1948, running on the Progressive Party ticket.

Lumpkin outlined how Wallace and his wife drove to Mexico in November 1940 when he was vice president-elect. The poverty and peasant farming techniques in Mexico that Wallace witnessed led to the eventual creation of CIMMYT (an acronym for its name in Spanish), which hired Borlaug to work on developing wheat varieties that were resistant to rust and which were adapted from dwarf varieties of wheat based on the Japanese variety Norin 10.

CIMMYT is now one of 15 independent, nonprofit research centers in the global partnership under the umbrella of CGIAR, formerly known as the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research.

Borlaug’s contributions to staving off famine in India and Pakistan have been widely recognized all over the world, Lumpkin noted. In addition to being named a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Borlaug has been given a raft of high honors by the U.S. government and other countries, including Mexico. In 1986, Borlaug founded the Des Moines, Iowa-based World Food Prize, which awards its top honor in October each year to a person or persons who have increased the quantity and quality of food.

Lumpkin noted that CGIAR’s 10,000 associated researchers continue to improve crop varieties to stave off hunger and malnutrition. A recent example he cited was work to curb maize lethal necrosis disease (MLND) in Africa. The disease is caused by a combination of two viruses.

New varieties of crops that have been improved to resist disease and increase yields by CIMMYT are continuously being developed and sent around the world, Lumpkin stated.

The organization also preserves 150,000 accessions of wheat and 28,000 accessions of corn, many of them ancient varieties, so it can make their diverse genetics available to crop scientists. Many of the accessions, he added, have been developed by small farmers.

All of the resources of CIMMYT and its CGIAR partners will be needed if the world’s farmers are to be able to double agricultural production by the year 2050, Lumpkin concluded, when the world’s population is expected to grow by 2 billion people to 9.7 billion.

More agricultural research will need to be conducted to meet the challenges of population growth. Likewise, climate change also will have to be addressed as it makes for changes in where crops can be grown.

Biotechnology needs to be deployed, including using the CRISPR technology for editing genomes. Genetically-modified crops have done great things, Lumpkin opined, and more needs to be done to prepare crops for the heat, droughts, and floods of climate change and to boost production by improving the efficiency of photosynthesis.

Bio-char produced by the pyrolysis of crop residues can be used to improve soil quality and fertility while helping to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, he noted, and mechanization and soil conservation measures can make crop production more efficient and environmentally friendly.

 A new generation of farmers must be recruited and inspired because the average age of farmers in many developed countries is approaching the age of retirement, Lumpkin asserted.

All of that can be accomplished, he concluded, if the world can quickly produce more Norman Borlaugs and Henry Wallaces.

3 Big Things Today, January 17, 2020

Byline:

1. Corn, Wheat Higher After Senate Passes USMCA

Grains were higher in overnight trading after the U.S. Senate passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, to the desk of President Trump yesterday.

The Senate approved the trilateral agreement in a landslide bipartisan 89-10 vote. The House approved the deal last month, and Trump is expected to sign the document sometime next week.

The USMCA will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement that governed trade between the three countries for the past 25 years.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 3¾¢ to $3.79¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat futures for March delivery gained 3½¢ to $5.68¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures rose ½¢ to $4.85¼ a bushel.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell ½¢ to $9.23½ a bushel. Soy meal futures rose 30¢ to $300.90 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.16¢ to 32.87¢ a pound.

Read More: As Senate passes USMCA, Trump tells farmers to remember the trade war money

**

2. Export Sales of Grains, Beans All Jump Week to Week

Export sales of corn, wheat, and beans all jumped week to week, according to the USDA.

Corn sales for overseas delivery were up noticeably to 784,800 metric tons in the seven days that ended on January 9, the agency said in a report. That was a 4% increase from the prior four-week average.

Analysts were expecting sales from 500,000 to 950,000 metric tons, according to researcher Allendale.

Japan was the big buyer at 373,100 metric tons, followed by Colombia at 168,200 tons, and Mexico at 116,400 tons. South Korea bought 66,300 tons and Guatemala was in for 40,000 tons. The total would’ve been higher but an unknown country canceled shipments for 109,200 tons, the USDA said.

Wheat sales jumped to 650,000 metric tons, also up considerably from the previous week and 32% from the average, government data show. Analysts were expecting sales from 200,000 to 500,000 tons.

An unknown buyer took 130,500 metric tons, followed by the Philippines, which bought 127,900 tons, the agency said. Indonesia was in for 70,800 metric tons, Mexico purchased 63,400 tons, and Thailand took 60,400 tons of U.S. wheat, the USDA said.

Soybean sales surged to 711,500 metric tons, which was a 3% increase from the prior four-week average.

Analysts had expected sales from 400,000 to 850,000 tons.

China was the big buyer at 216,600 metric tons, followed by the Netherlands at 197,500 tons, and Egypt at 121,000 tons. Mexico bought 115,800 metric tons and Japan was in for 86,000 tons. An unknown country nixed shipments totaling 377,300 metric tons, the agency said in its report.

**

3. Blizzard, Winter Storm Warnings Issued From Oklahoma to Canadian Border

The Midwest is getting blasted with winter weather today as storms are rolling from Oklahoma to the Canadian border and from Idaho to Ohio.

A blizzard warning is in effect for much of eastern North Dakota, eastern South Dakota, western Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa, according to the National Weather Service.  A winter storm warning is in effect for the rest of Minnesota, much of Iowa, and western Wisconsin.

Almost the entirety of the Midwest from a few counties near the Texas panhandle all the way through Michigan to the Canadian border are in a winter storm advisory, the NWS said this morning.

In eastern South Dakota, only about 2 inches of snow are expected to accumulated, but wind gusts as high as 55 mph will “significantly” curb visibility, the agency said in a report.

Wind chills will drop as low as -35˚F. and could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

In eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota, it’s a similar outlook but with as much as 4 inches of snow accumulating. Wind gusts are forecasts to be as high as 50 mph, the NWS said.

Iowa will see snow along with wind gusts of up to 45 mph along with “flash freeze” conditions that could make travel extremely dangerous, the agency said.

Read More: What farmers are reading this week, January 10-17

Learning from the past: What past presidents can teach us about future presidents

Byline:

Regardless of whether individual farmers view President Trump’s time in office as a positive or negative, there’s no denying he and his administration shook up the agricultural landscape from 2016 to now.

Since Trump’s inauguration, he’s targeted agriculture – specifically with trade – as a foundation of his tenure. He’s referred to farmers as great patriots on Twitter and said they’ve been treated unfairly for years. During Trump’s trade negotiations, some farmers have grown impatient and faced hard times that some attribute to the president. 

On the other side, with the 2020 election looming, the Democratic Debate took place in Des Moines on Tuesday. The debate covered many topics, including trade. Regardless of who takes office in 2020, trade and agriculture will continue to play an important role. 

With a vital stretch approaching for presidential candidates, presidential historian and author Jon Meacham visited the city on the same day to discuss politics at the Land Expo. Meacham’s written about several U.S. presidents in history.

He stated that he’s voted for both Democrats and Republicans in the past and anticipates he will continue to do so. Meacham declined to dive into current candidates and elected to look at history for guidance instead. 

The 50-year-old historian plucked traits from former presidents that he’s learned from firsthand experience or stories and applied them to what Americans should seek from future presidents.

“My view is that if we talk about our politics in historical terms, we raise the chances that we can actually have an illuminating, as opposed to infuriating conversation,” says Meacham.

Meacham points out liberal views often turn toward data and facts that emerge from history, while conservative views focus on tradition, meaning both parties tie in the past and history.

During the speech, Meacham isolates four characteristics presidents need to be successful for the country and its citizens.

Read more from Land Expo: Early signs of spring for the farm economy

Curiosity

Meacham turns to the birth of the U.S. to explain the importance of curiosity. The Declaration of Independence says, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson – the man who jotted down that sentence – was influenced by conversations about recent movements before 1776. Meacham lists the Scientific Revolution, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press, the rise of reason, and a handful of other notable events.

The world shifted from a vertical organization to a horizontal one in the late 1700s, according to Meacham. Class importance and authority declined, while people gained the opportunity to forge their own paths, opening up the rights to freedom of thought, expression, and faith, Meacham says.

“Jefferson was able to set that journey in motion because he had been curious – because he had been engaged in that conversation,” Meacham says. “I don’t see how we can get through our generational test without being curious about climate, about the access to prosperity, about finding a way through this reflexive partisanship, where we pick a team and then decide who’s right as opposed to deciding who’s right and then picking a team.”

Meacham says that test won’t be passed until Americans confront those issues by being curious with an open mind.

Read more from Land Expo: Assessing the values of wind and solar projects for landowners

Candor

The presidents who faced the most trouble in history failed to be transparent with U.S. citizens, according to Meacham.

Meacham cites Lyndon B. Johnson with Vietnam and Richard Nixon “in damn near everything” as the two main examples.

“If you don’t level with us, we tend to suss it out,” Meacham says. “That’s the nature of a thinking democracy. If you’re a curious democracy, there’s a greater burden on the president to be candid.”

Meacham says Americans demand the truth, and if they don’t receive it, they’ll figure it out eventually as history shows.

He points out Franklin D. Roosevelt’s approach during World War II that he modeled after Winston Churchill’s candor as a quality example.

“‘The news is going to get worse and worse before it gets better and better, and the American people deserve to have it straight from the shoulder,’” Meacham restated from Roosevelt during 1942.

Read more from Land Expo: Top 10 red flags for farmers using 1031 exchange

Humility

The third trait mentioned deals with the ability to admit mistakes. 

When John F. Kennedy took office in 1961, replacing Dwight Eisenhower, he quickly tried to make an impact with the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

After the failure, Kennedy approached the man he replaced for advice. The 44-year-old Democrat and the 70-year-old Republican met to improve Kennedy’s time in office.

Over lunch, Eisenhower noted how Kennedy conducted meetings. Instead of a group meeting, members of the administration met individually with the president. Eisenhower suggests adjusting this to gain the big-picture view, and Kennedy agrees.

Jumping to 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis challenges Kennedy. Meacham says estimates showed 70 to 100 million Americans could’ve died if the situation had escalated. 

Kennedy deployed Eisenhower’s suggestion, calling a group meeting that lasted 13 days and helped avoid catastrophe. 

“We came through that crisis, not least because Jack Kennedy had the guts to learn how to do his job better,” Meacham says.

Read more from Land Expo: USDA official sees trade progress for ag

Empathy

Meacham says empathy remains potentially the most important trait for a president.

“Empathy is the capacity to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes,” Meacham says. “It may be the single-most important characteristic of leadership and citizenship.”

Meacham jumps to the George H.W. Bush era when the president showcased empathy.

Before diving into another story, Meacham notes a famous quote from Bush: “I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don’t always agree with them,” to give an idea of Bush’s personality.

Meacham starts his Bush story by referencing a classmate of Bush’s at Greenwich Country Day School. The school held an annual obstacle course that Bush always won. The school and Bush agreed to give the other students a head start in his final year at the school.

After the other students kicked off the race, Bush started. As Bush dealt with barrels associated in the challenge, he noticed his classmate wedged in the barrel. Bush yanks his classmate out of the barrel and finishes the race with him. 

When Meacham heard this story originally, he approached the president about it. Meacham asked Bush why he did it. Meacham says Bush kept it simple: He’d never been stuck in a barrel but if he were stuck in a barrel, he’d want somebody to lend a hand. 

Meacham describes the response as “be nice because they might be nice when you need them,” a version of the Golden Rule. 

“If we’ve learned anything since we’ve climbed out of the caves, it’s that empires rise and fall, regimes rise and fall, parties rise and fall,” Meacham says. “You better hope it’s your team in charge if you’re going to put your faith in a system where someone has to be totally in charge.”

After the school story, Meacham moves to Bush’s time in office during the fall of the Berlin Wall, which represented the missing freedom in communism. 

Bush refused to give a speech after the event despite the positive result in Americans’ views. Meacham says Bush viewed Mikhail Gorbachev, the president of the Soviet Union, as a man stuck in a barrel. 

Bush anticipated that a celebration of the event would jeopardize the peace after the Cold War. 

Read more from Land Expo: How To Thrive On the Edgo of Chaos: A Guide For Farmers

Conclusion

Along with being together, democracy requires people to at least listen to one another even if there are conflicting views.

Meacham provides historical numbers to supplement his point. Meacham says 40% of Republicans voted for Johnson in 1964, and 40% of Democrats voted for Nixon in 1972. In 2016, 1% of Democrats voted for Trump and 1% of Republicans voted for Hillary Clinton. 

“Too many of us don’t think enough about it,” Meacham says. “And if we do it, we should do it in an empathetic way.”

Meacham referenced earlier in the speech that politicians often act like they do because they’re seeking a reelection or a positive legacy, meaning they reflect the citizens that they represent to appeal to them. As the speech neared its finish, Meacham returned to the traits he highlighted for politicians and citizens.

“Curiosity, candor, humility, and empathy are the characteristics that if we can at least tip-toe toward and try to embody, I think we stand the best chance of being a generation that we remember more warmly than we have much of a chance of being at the moment,” Meacham says. 

3 Big Things Today, January 16, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybean, Grain Futures Decline on Trade Skepticism

Soybeans and grains were lower in overnight trading on skepticism about the Phase One trade deal between the U.S. and China.

President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He yesterday signed the agreement, under which China said it would increase purchases of U.S. goods by $200 billion from their 2017 levels in the next two years.

Of that, China said it would increase purchases of agricultural products by a total of $32 billion in 2020 and 2021, bump spending on manufactured items by $78 billion, and spend $38 billion more on services, according to U.S. government documents.  

In exchange, the U.S. said it would roll back some tariffs imposed on imports from the Asian country.

Still, most of the tariffs on Chinese goods will stay in place. Levies of 25% on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods will stay, as will tariffs on $100 billion worth of U.S. goods that China imposed. Some analysts said the Phase One agreement didn’t resolve several issues.

Vice President Mike Pence told Fox Business News that negotiators are already working on a Phase Two deal.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 3¢ to $9.25¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures declined 80¢ to $299.30 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.1¢ to 33.20¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery dropped 4¾¢ to $3.82¾ a bushel.

Wheat futures for March delivery fell 7½¢ to $5.65¾ a bushel overnight in Chicago, while Kansas City futures plunged 9¢ to $4.87½ a bushel.

**

2. Ethanol Production Jumps to Highest Level Since June, Fourth-Highest Total on Record

Ethanol production in the U.S. climbed to the highest level in seven months last week, and stockpiles also increased in the seven days through January 10, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Output jumped to an average of 1.095 million barrels a day from 1.062 million the previous week, the EIA said in a report. That’s the highest level since the week that ended on June 7, and the fourth-highest total on record, government data show.

In the Midwest, by far the largest-producing region, production of the biofuel surged to 1.012 million barrels a day, on average. That’s up from 984,000 barrels a day the previous week.

East Coast output also increased, rising to 28,000 barrels a day from 25,000 the previous week. Gulf Coast production rose to 25,000 barrels a day, on average, from 22,000 barrels.

Rocky Mountain output was unchanged at an average of 14,000 barrels a day.   

Production on the West Coast, however, declined to 16,000 barrels a day from 17,000 a week earlier, the EIA said in its report.

In other news, the USDA will release its weekly Export Sales Report this morning.

Analysts are expecting corn sales from 500,000 to 950,000 metric tons, soybean sales from 400,000 to 850,000 tons, and wheat sales from 200,000 to 500,000 metric tons, researcher Allendale said in a morning note.  

**

3. Winter Storms Expected From Texas to Minnesota Heading Into the Weekend

Winter storms are forecast from the Texas panhandle north into Minnesota this morning, according to the National Weather Service.

In eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, as much as 3 inches of snow are expected along with a “light glaze” of ice, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Temperatures likely will rise above freezing at some point tomorrow, which will lead to periods of drizzle. Extremely cold weather will move into the region Friday night, which could freeze any precipitation that forms on the ground, the agency said.

Farther south in Missouri, a mix of freezing rain, sleet, and snow are possible starting this evening and lasting through Friday morning.

As much as a tenth of an inch of freezing rain is likely along with a dusting of snow. Travel could become dangerous if ground temperatures drop below freezing, the NWS said.

3 Big Things: January 15, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Corn Little Changed Overnight, Wheat Again Higher

Soybeans and corn were little changed in overnight trading as investors anxiously await details of the trade deal between the U.S. and China.

The signing ceremony is expected to occur at 11:30 a.m. in Washington, which will be followed by the release of details about the partial trade agreement between the countries.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell ½¢ to $9.41¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures added 70¢ to $302.70 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.22¢ to 33.85¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery were unchanged at $3.89 a bushel.

Wheat futures, however, were again higher overnight after Egypt purchased 240,000 metric tons of wheat from international supplies. The Egyptians reportedly bought Russian and Romanian wheat.

Prices also rose overnight on reports that Russia is considering keeping a lid on exports of the grain until June. S&P Global Platts reported that Russia’s Agriculture Ministry has released a draft order that would limit grain exports to 20 million metric tons from January to June in a bid to safeguard domestic prices.

The report, however, said analysts don’t expect the order to affect exports.

Wheat futures for March delivery rose 4½¢ to $5.73 a bushel overnight in Chicago, while Kansas City futures added 3¢ to $5 a bushel.

**

2. Eighteen Months in the Making, Phase One Trade Deal With China to Be Signed Today

The day has finally arrived when the U.S. and China will sign the long-awaited trade deal between the two countries that has been 18 months in the making.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He – the chief negotiator who helped broker the deal – are scheduled to sign the Phase One agreement in Washington today.

The terms of the agreement haven’t yet been released, but snippets have come out in the past month since the deal was reached.

The deal will at least partially end the trade war between the countries that’s raged for 18 months, curbing hundreds of billions of dollars in exports from both nations.

Essentially, China will increase purchases of agricultural products and make concessions with regard to intellectual property, though exact amounts won’t be known until details are released. China has been reluctant to publicly announce how much it would buy from the U.S.

In return, the U.S. will curb some tariffs and won’t impose new ones as long as the Asian nation adheres to agreed-upon levels under the deal. A Bloomberg report on Tuesday said the Trump administration will leave existing tariffs in place until after the presidential election in November.

The report said the U.S. would review the progress China has made in terms of the Phase One deal in about 10 months, after which it could curb tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, reportedly told reporters that the import tariffs on Chinese goods would remain in place until the president signs a Phase Two agreement.

So far there’s no time line for the sides to put together that deal, though negotiators from both sides have said they’ll begin work on the second part of the overall agreement as soon as the Phase One deal is signed.

Trump and Liu are scheduled to sign the deal at 11:30 a.m. at the White House, according to the office of the press secretary, after which details of the Phase One agreement will be released.

**

3. Winter Weather Advisories Issued For Iowa, Northern Illinois, Central Minnesota

Weather maps are active this morning with winter weather advisories, dense fog warnings, and precipitation likely in several states.

Winter weather advisories are in effect in most of Iowa and parts of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service. A separate advisory is in effect for a narrow band stretching from southern North Dakota east into northern Wisconsin.

In Iowa, freezing drizzle has made for slick roads this morning, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Snow is expected to continue in parts of central Minnesota, which likely will be accompanied by freezing drizzle along the Interstate 90 corridor, the agency said in its report. Travel likely will be dangerous in the area due to ice accumulations.

In parts of southern Oklahoma, eastern Texas, and Arkansas, dense fog is an issue this morning. In Arkansas, visibility has been reduced to less than ¼ mile in several counties. A dense fog warning has been issued for much of the state until 9 a.m. local time.

Farther west along the Colorado-Kansas border, “wintry precipitation” is expected starting tomorrow and lasting through Friday, the NWS said. Wind gusts up to 45 mph are possible.

“Precipitation amounts are expected to be low, however, a combination of light snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain will be possible, which could result in difficult travel conditions,” the agency said.

3 Big Things: January 14, 2020

Byline:

1. Wheat Futures Higher on China, Egypt Optimism

Wheat futures were higher in overnight trading amid optimism about the signing of the Phase One trade deal with China and as Egypt prepares to announced the results of its tender.

The trade agreement between the U.S. and China is scheduled to be signed tomorrow in Washington. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who was instrumental in hammering out the deal, will lead a delegation to the U.S.

The deal will partially end the trade war between the countries that’s already lasted more than 18 months.

Egypt, meanwhile, said Monday it wants to buy cargoes of 55,000 to 60,000 metric tons of soft wheat for shipment in March.

The results are due out today, and the North African nation’s General Authority for Supply Commodities said on its website that it’s seeking U.S. northern Pacific soft white wheat, U.S. soft red winter wheat, U.S. hard wheat or Canadian soft wheat.

GASC also may turn to French, Bulgarian, Australian, Polish, German, or UK wheat, the agency said.

Wheat futures for March delivery rose 4¾¢ to $5.67 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while Kansas City futures added 3¾¢ to $4.96½ a bushel.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell ¼¢ to $9.42 a bushel. Soy meal futures added $1.60 to $305.40 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.39¢ to 33.56¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery were unchanged at $3.89½ a bushel.

**

2. Soybean, Wheat Inspections Rise Week to Week, Corn Assessments Decline

Inspections of soybeans and wheat for overseas delivery rose week to week, while corn assessments declined, according to the USDA.

Soybean inspections in the seven days through January 9 were reported at 1.14 million metric tons, up from 1.04 million a week earlier, the agency said in a report. The total also was higher than the 1.1 million tons examined during the same week in 2019.

Wheat assessments improved to 473,960 metric tons last week from 420,653 tons the previous week, the government said. That was, however, down from the 550,798 tons assessed at the same point last year.

Corn inspections, meanwhile, dropped to 460,307 metric tons from 550,930 tons the prior week, the USDA said. Last week’s total was a drastic decline from the 1 million tons examined for offshore delivery during the same week in 2019.

Since the start of the marketing year on September 1, the government has inspected 9.06 million metric tons of corn for overseas delivery. That’s less than half the 19.5 million tons examined during the same period a year earlier.

Soybean assessments since the start of September now stand at 23 million metric tons, up from 18.4 million at this point last year.

Wheat inspections since the start of the grain’s marketing year on June 1 now total 15.4 million metric tons, up from the 13. 5 million assessed at this point a year earlier, the USDA said in its report.

**

3. Snow, Freezing Drizzle Expected to End in Minnesota as Another Storm Bears Down

Snow and freezing drizzle will end in parts of northern Minnesota this morning, though hazardous travel is expected for much of the region, according to the National Weather Service.

More snow is expected starting early tomorrow morning in northern Minnesota, which likely will spread northward throughout the day. As much as another 5 inches of snow are expected to fall in the area, the NWS said in a report early this morning.  

Fog is a problem for a wide chunk of the U.S. stretching from the Mexican border north into southeastern Nebraska, weather maps show.

In the eastern half of Kansas and northern Oklahoma, visibility is expected to drop to less than a quarter mile, the agency said.

“In central Kansas, slick roads and highways are possible early this morning, especially on elevated surfaces,” the NWS said.

The combination of fog and slick roads could made travel dangerous.

3 Big Things: January 13, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans Lower in Overnight Trading After WASDE

Soybeans were lower in overnight trading to start the new week as traders react to Friday’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) and grain stocks reports.

Production of soybeans in the U.S. in 2019 was pegged at 3.56 billion bushels, topping forecasts for 3.51 billion bushels and the previous month’s outlook for 3.55 billion bushels, according to the USDA.

Yield was seen at 47.4 bushels an acre, also topping trade expectations for 46.6 bushels an acre and the December estimate for 46.9 bushels an acre, the USDA said.

Corn production was forecast at 13.692 billion bushels, topping forecasts for 13.513 billion and the December estimate of 13.661 billion bushels. Yield was pegged at 168 bushels an acre compared with analyst projections of 166 bushels an acre and Decembers 167-bushel forecast.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 5¢ to $9.41 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures lost 30¢ to $303.20 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.27¢ to 34.08¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery fell ¼¢ to $3.85½ a bushel.

Wheat for March delivery fell 4¾¢ to $5.59¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures lost 4¼¢ to $4.90½ a bushel.

**

2. Money Managers Increase Net Shorts in Corn, Reduce Bearish Bets on Beans

Money managers increased their net-short positions, or bets on lower prices, on corn while cutting their bearish bets on soybeans, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Speculators raised their net shorts in corn to 85,507 futures contracts in the first week of 2019, which ended on January 7. That’s up from 85,115 contracts a week earlier, the agency said in a report.

Investors were less bearish on soybeans last week, holding 2,851 net-short positions, government data show. That’s down from 7,524 such positions seven days earlier. Fund managers and hedgers likely were less bearish beans as the U.S. and China prepare to sign the so-called Phase One trade deal this week.

The agreement is scheduled to be signed on Wednesday, according to officials on both sides.

In wheat, money managers increased their bullish bets in hard red winter futures to 2,007 contacts, up from 319 futures contracts a week earlier, the CFTC said.

Investors held 22,261 net-long positions, or bets on higher prices, in soft red winter wheat last week, up slightly from 22,059 contracts seven days earlier, the agency said in its report.

The weekly Commitment of Traders Report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows trader positions in futures markets.

The report provides positions held by commercial traders, or those using futures to hedge their physical assets; noncommercial traders, or money managers (also called large speculators); and nonreportables, or small speculators.

A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

**

3. Freezing Rain, Snow Expected in Nebraska, Iowa; Drizzle, More Snow Forecast in Wisconsin

Freezing rain, snow, and patchy drizzle are expected in parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa today, according to the National Weather Service.

Some light freezing rain and snow are forecast into the midevening, along with snow, which mainly will fall over southwestern Iowa, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Patchy drizzle expected in the region this afternoon could freeze as temperatures decline. Fog also may be present near the Nebraska-Kansas border, which will cut visibility to less than ½ mile and along with ice on roads may lead to dangerous travel conditions.

In Wisconsin, meanwhile, light snow is moving out of the state but will be followed by a round of freezing drizzle.

Snow-covered roads will be slippery this morning, the NWS said.

More snow is expected in southern Wisconsin this week due to an active weather pattern, the agency said in its report.

What Farmers Are Reading This Week, January 3-10

Byline:

The start of the year stirred up farmers’ interest with new equipment, a record-breaking yield, and actions from the government in the spotlight.

Along with the current events, readers gravitated toward articles about a weather recap, guidance, and future obstacles after a harsh year across the Corn Belt for many farmers.

And if you missed any of the top news that closed the decade, the Successful Farming staff has you covered with a recap over 2019 and all its ups and downs. 

READ MORE: What Farmers Were Reading in 2019

Corn ear husk pulled back.

1. How David Hula Grows 600-Bushel-Plus Corn

David Hula didn’t just eclipse the 600-bushel-per-acre mark to win the 2019 National Corn Yield Contest – he crushed it, hitting a record 616.195-bushel-per-acre yield.

And no, it wasn’t on super-fertile, jet-black land. It was generated from one of Hula’s sandy-loam fields in Charles City County, Virginia.

Read more here.

2. The Carhartt Silverado

For 2021, Chevrolet is offering a Carhartt version of its Silverado HD, that company announced recently.

Based on the Silverado 2500 LTZ crew cab, the special edition is paired with the Z71 Off-Road Package, including tuned twin-tube Rancho shocks, Hill Descent Control, and skid plates. 

Read more here.

3. Economists Lay Out Critical Issues Facing Farmers

For many of us, the new year is a time to reflect on the year (or decade) behind us and consider what may lie ahead of us. What will 2020 have in store?

Well, that is a daunting – if not impossible – question to answer in January. However, that doesn’t mean we are completely helpless in thinking about the significant issues ahead.

Read more here.

A farmer overlooks his farm as the sunsets.
iStock: Jevtic

4. How To Thrive On the Edge of Chaos: A Guide For Farmers

Vance Crowe is a communications consultant who thrives on chaos. He is a keynote speaker at the Land Expo 2020 in Des Moines on January 14. Successful Farming magazine caught up with him ahead of time to get a preview.

Read more here.

5. The Year of the Tractor

Following the year of the combine in 2018, more than a dozen new tractors were unveiled in 2019.

Read more here.

The USDA logo

6. USDA Approves State Hemp Production Plans

For all its cachet as a potential moneymaking crop for American farmers, industrial hemp ranked midway between safflower and flaxseed in plantings, with an estimated 230,000 acres in 2019, and industry leaders disagree whether 2020 will be a year of expansion or retrenchment. But the USDA is approving state plans to regulate hemp production and offering crop insurance for hemp growers, steps that could help establish the crop.

The 2018 farm law legalized hemp farming and the USDA issued a rule last October 24 to assure consistency among states in the oversight of growers. In the final days of 2019, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) approved production plans by three states — Louisiana, New Jersey, and Ohio — and plans by the Flandreau Santee Sioux, Santa Rosa Cahuilla, and La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian tribes.

Read more here.

7. 2019 Weather: Floods, Delays, and Disease, Oh My!

The past year will be remembered for its extremes. Flooding, fieldwork delays, and disease plagued commodity growers across the Corn Belt in 2019. Here’s a recap of the season farmers have described as tedious, temperamental, and trying.

Read more here.

8. What Farmers Need to Know About Plant-Based Protein

Danny O’Malley is the president and founder of Before the Butcher, home of Uncut plant protein. He has been in the food industry for 30 years, working for Sysco Food Service and then Beyond Meat, before starting his own plant-based protein company two and a half years ago.

O’Malley is a keynote speaker at the Land Expo 2020 in Des Moines on January 14, where he will focus on the evolution of plant-based meats and what the future holds, as well as the market’s broadening consumer base.

Read more here.

An illustration of China and the U.S. shaking hands.
iStock: Trifonenko

9. U.S. and China to Ease, but not End, Trade War Next Week

President Trump says he and Chinese officials will sign a Phase One trade agreement at the White House on January 15 that will de-escalate the Sino-U.S. tariff war that began in earnest in mid-2018. The agreement obligates China to buy up to $50 billion a year in U.S. farm exports, more than four times the sales level forecast for this year, according to U.S. officials, but details have not been released.

A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He plans to arrive in Washington on January 13 for the signing, which Trump announced unilaterally on social media on December 31, said the South China Morning Post on Sunday. “Trump is trying to take full credit for the Phase One deal as a major ‘win’ for the U.S. and for himself, but the Chinese, although eager to sign the deal to ensure stability, have been less inclined to make a major show.”

Read more here.

Untreated soybean seeds.

10. Not If Friday’s USDA Data Will be Bullish, but by How Much?

Come January, usually the only market factor with much influence on prices is South America’s weather. 

After all, they are our best competitor for world exports and this is their prime growing season. 

Read more here.

Top Listen of the Week

Hemp Seed Production

As states are preparing their hemp-cropping regulations, the excitement is growing. There is no doubt that hemp presents a new opportunity for growers to expand their cropping opportunities. If growing hemp is on your radar, just be sure you know exactly what you’re planting.

Wayne Gale is the chair of the American Seed Trade Association. He says he doesn’t know of any crop that has gone from zero-to-100 in a matter of just a few years. This has created a number of challenges, so they’re working to educate growers about where they can get seed, and what requirements to look for on the seed bag.

Read more and listen here.

Top Watch of the Week

3 Big Things Today, January 10, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Little Changed on Trade, Ahead of Reports

Soybeans and grains were little changed as investors weigh optimism about a trade deal with China against pessimism over geopolitical issues with Iran, all while awaiting today’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) and grain stocks reports due out today.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who led the Asian country’s trade negotiations with the U.S., will be in Washington Monday through Wednesday and is scheduled to sign the Phase One trade deal with China on January 15, China’s Ministry of Commerce said Thursday.

Gao Feng, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a weekly press briefing that a delegation led by Liu will be in Washington for a signing ceremony.

Traders also will have eyes on the WASDE and grain stocks reports that are due out today. Some forecasts are for bullish numbers, which is underpinning prices in the overnight session.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell ¼¢ to $9.43¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures gained 30¢ to $301.10 a short ton, and soy oil added 0.08¢ to 34.72¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery rose ¾¢ to $3.84 a bushel.

Wheat for March delivery gained 1¢ to $5.63¼ a bushel, while Kansas City futures added 1¢ to $4.91¼ a bushel.

**

2. WASDE Production Estimates Expected to Be Down Monthly, Grain Stocks Also Seen Lower

The WASDE and grain stocks reports are due out at 11 a.m. in Washington today, and the prereport expectations are for bullish numbers.

Analysts have forecast 2019 corn production at 13.513 billion bushels, down from the prior government estimate for 13.661 billion bushels.

Yield is pegged at 166 bushels an acre vs. 167 bushels last month.

The USDA likely will estimate soybean output at 3.51 billion bushels in today’s report, down from the December forecast for 3.55 billion bushels, analysts said.

Yield is forecast at 46.6 bushels an acre, down from last month’s estimate for 46.9 bushels.

The grain stocks report is expected to show corn inventories at 1.77 billion bushels vs. the December estimate for 1.91 billion bushels, according to analysts.

Soybean stockpiles likely will be pegged at 431 million bushels, down from the previous month’s forecast for 475 million bushels.

Wheat inventories probably will be seen by the USDA at 970 million from December’s forecast for 974 million bushels, the analysts said.

The government also will release its weekly Export Sales Report today, a day late due to inclement weather earlier this week in Washington. Analysts expect corn sales from 350,000 to 725,000 metric tons, soybeans from 400,000 to 850,000 tons, and wheat sales from 200,000 to 550,000 tons, according to researcher Allendale.

**

3. Winter Storm Warnings in Effect From Kansas to Michigan, NWS Maps Show

Excessive rain watches have turned into winter storm warnings from central Kansas northeast into Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

In eastern Kansas, northern Missouri, and eastern Iowa, a mix of snow and ice is expected today.

In northern Missouri, up to 6 inches of snow are forecast to fall along with two tenths of an inch of ice, the NWS said in a report early this morning. Wind gusts are expected to top 40 mph in the area.

“Temperatures will drop rapidly after sunset Friday, which could cause a flash freeze of any water on roads and elevated surfaces in combination with the wintry mix already falling,” the agency said in its report.

The eastern half of Michigan also is under a winter storm warning.

Snow and sleet accumulations are pegged at about 3 inches along with a quarter inch to three-quarter inch of ice. Wind gusts of up to 45 mph also are expected overnight and into Sunday, the NWS said.

3 Big Things Today, January 9, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Higher Overnight Ahead of WASDE Report

Soybeans and grains were higher in overnight trading ahead of tomorrow’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE, Report from the USDA.

Analysts expect the agency to peg output at about 13.5 million bushels on yield of 166 bushels an acre, according to researcher Allendale. Harvested acres are forecast at 81.3 million acres.

Soybean output is seen at 3.51 billion bushels on yield of 46.5 bushels an acre and harvested area of 75.6 million acres.

Corn ending stockpiles are seen at 1.776 million bushels, soybean inventories are forecasts around 431 million bushels, and wheat ending stocks are pegged at 970 million bushels, Allendale said.

Investors also are optimistic about the trade deal with China as the nation’s Ministry of Commerce said Vice Premier Liu He, who was instrumental in hammering out the Phase One deal, will be in Washington next week to sign the agreement.

The deal will reportedly be signed during a ceremony with President Donald Trump.

China has agreed to increase purchases of agricultural products and make concessions on intellectual property rights. In exchange, the U.S. said it would forego implementation of new tariffs and suspended planned levy increases on Chinese imports.

Soybean futures for March delivery rose 5¼¢ to $9.52½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures gained 70¢ to $302.50 a short ton, and soy oil added 0.31¢ to 34.87¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 2¼¢ to $3.86½ a bushel.

Wheat for March delivery gained 4¾¢ to $5.57½ a bushel, while Kansas City futures added 5¢ to $4.85 a bushel.

**

2. Ethanol Production Falls to Lowest Level in a Month, Stockpiles Jump

Production of ethanol fell for a second straight week to the lowest level in more than a month, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Output of the biofuel declined to an average of 1.062 million barrels a day, down from 1.066 million barrels the previous week, the EIA said in a report.

That’s the lowest level since the seven days that ended on November 29.

In the Midwest, by far the largest-producing region in the U.S., production averaged 984,000 barrels a day, down from 989,000 barrels a week earlier, government data show.

That was the entirety of the decliners as East Coast production was unchanged at an average of 25,000 barrels a day and Rocky Mountain output was unchanged at 14,000 barrels a day.

Gulf Coast output rose by 1,000 barrels to an average of 22,000 barrels a day and West Coast production increased by 1,000 to 17,000 barrels a day, the EIA said in its report.

Stockpiles, meanwhile, jumped to 22.462 million barrels, up from 21.034 million a week earlier and the largest amount since September 20, the agency said.

In other news, the weekly Export Sales Report is delayed for a third straight week. After the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, a snowstorm earlier this week will keep the report from coming out on time.

Washington-area government agencies closed early on Tuesday due to the threat of winter weather, the USDA said. That led to the delay in the Export Sales Report, which will come out at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.

When the report is released, analysts expected corn sales from 350,000 to 725,000 metric tons, soybeans from 400,000 to 850,000 tons, and whet sales from 200,000 to 550,000 tons, according to Allendale.

**

3. Excessive Rainfall Expected From Oklahoma to Michigan Starting Tomorrow

Flash flood watches are in effect from eastern Oklahoma northeast into parts of Ohio and Michigan, according to the National Weather Service.

On the southern edge of the storm in Oklahoma and Arkansas, bands of heavy rainfall are expected starting tomorrow, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Around 2 to 4 inches of rain are expected in most of the region, though some areas could see as much as 6 inches of precipitation.

“Since vegetation is dormant, more of this heavy rainfall will become runoff and will raise the quick-onset flash flood threat,” the agency said. “In addition, several main-stem rivers are expected to flood from the heavy rains, especially the Illinois, Poteau, and Kiamichi river basins.”

In southern Illinois, as much as 4 inches of rain are expected, which also could result in flooding of low-lying areas. Streams and tributaries are expected to overrun their banks, while larger rivers could see a “significant” increase in water levels, the NWS said.

3 Big Things Today, January 8, 2020

Byline:

1. Corn Futures Slightly Lower Overnight, Soybeans Little Changed

Corn futures were slightly lower in overnight trading as tensions in the Middle East outweigh optimism about the U.S.-China trade deal that’s set to be signed next week.

Wheat was higher, while soybeans were little changed.

Iran fired several missiles at two bases used to house members of the U.S. military. No casualties were reported after the attack.

Some reports said the missiles were intentionally fired to miss personnel on the bases, and Iran said it had concluded its attacks. The move comes after the U.S. fired missiles in Iraq that killed Iranian Maor General Qasem Soleimani on Friday.

Investors mostly shrugged off the incident, as equity futures were higher in premarket trading this morning, though oil and gold prices were higher.

Corn futures for March delivery fell 1¼¢ to $3.83¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat for March delivery gained 1¢ to $5.51¼ a bushel, while Kansas City futures added ½¢ to $4.75½ a bushel.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell ½¢ to $9.43½ a bushel. Soy meal futures gained 80¢ to $302.10 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.08¢ to 34.66¢ a pound.

**

2. China Won’t Alter Import Quotas on Corn, Wheat, Rice, Report Says

China agreed as part of the Phase One trade deal that it would buy more U.S. agricultural products – or so it seems.

Han Jun, the Asian nation’s vice minister of agriculture, reportedly said import quotas for corn, wheat, and rice will remain unchanged, according to a report from Chinese financial news site Caixin.

Soybean purchases have already increased since trade tensions de-escalated between the two countries, the world’s largest economies. Imports of the oilseeds into China rose almost 54% in November from the same month a year earlier, Chinese customs data show.

President Donald Trump said last month that China would buy $50 billion in agricultural products as part of the trade deal, but Beijing has yet to confirm that number.

Analysts and rural economists have questioned whether it’s possible for the country to purchase such a large amount.

In related news, the U.S. trade deficit declined to $43.1 billion in November, the lowest since October 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The ongoing trade war with China has led to fewer imports into the U.S., while oil exports increased, government data show.

Exports rose 0.7% in November to $208.6 billion, while imports fell 1% to $251.7 billion, the agency said in its report on Tuesday.

**

3. Snow Forecast For Parts of Nebraska, Rain May Cause Flooding From Arkansas to Michigan

Snow is on the way for parts of Nebraska starting tomorrow with as much as 3 inches possible, according to the National Weather Service.

An inch or two of snow will likely fall in western Nebraska with more likely falling in southwestern Nebraska, the NWS said in a report this morning. Eastern Nebraska will get up to about an inch.

Colder air will arrive in the state at the end of the week with the coldest wind chills hitting as low as -10˚F. in central Nebraska.

Farther east, “multiple round of rainfall” are expected to start tomorrow in a wide chunk of land stretching from northeastern Arkansas north into Michigan, the agency said.

In eastern Missouri and southern Illinois, 2 to 4 inches of precipitation are expected. Some river flooding is likely after the rain begins, the NWS said.

“In addition to the possible river flooding, flash flooding may be possible Friday night and early Saturday morning due to the potential for high rainfall rates to fall on already saturated soils,” the agency said in a report this morning.

3 Big Things Today, January 7, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Lower Overnight on Geopolitical Tensions

Soybeans and grains were again lower in overnight trading amid concerns about tensions in the Middle East.

Iranian officials said yesterday that the killing of Qasem Soleimani was an act of terrorism and that the country would respond. The nation’s government decided to abandon the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a 2015 nuclear deal under which it had agreed to limits on its nuclear program.

President Donald Trump said the U.S. would strike 52 targets in Iran, including cultural sites, which would constitute a war crime, but Defense Secretary Mark Esper dispelled the president’s claims, saying the U.S. would follow international law.

Dozens of people were killed in a stampede during Soleimani’s funeral in his hometown as onlookers were crushed in a surge of people. At least 30 people were killed and another 190 were injured, according to state media.

The tensions in the Middle East have kept a lid on commodity and equity prices in recent days. Oil and gold prices, however, have increased since the killing of Soleimani on Friday.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 2¼¢ to $9.42½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures lost 70¢ to $301.20 a short ton, and soy oil rose 0.04¢ to 34.56¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell ½¢ to $3.84¼ a bushel overnight.  

Wheat for March delivery dropped ¾¢ to $5.49¼ a bushel, while Kansas City futures declined 3¢ to $4.74¼ a bushel.

**

2. Export Inspections of Corn, Wheat Rise Week to Week, Soybean Assessments Decline

Inspections of corn and wheat for overseas delivery rose week to week, while soybean assessments declined slightly, according to the USDA.

The government inspected 550,930 metric tons of corn for offshore delivery in the week ended January 2, during which workers had off New Year’s Day. That’s up from 408,946 metric tons examined during the previous week, which was shortened by Christmas.

The total was up from the 501,565 metric tons inspected during the same week a year earlier, USDA data show.

Wheat inspections rose to 345,109 metric tons from 312,090 tons a week earlier. That was up from the 263,918 tons assessed at the same time the previous year.

Soybean assessments for overseas delivery, meanwhile, fell to 963,830 metric tons in the seven days through January 2 from 991,801 tons the previous week, the USDA said. That’s still well above the 682,518 tons inspected during the same week a year earlier.

Since the start of the marketing year on September 1, the USDA has inspected only 8.6 million metric tons of corn for offshore delivery, government data show. That’s down from the 18.5 million tons assessed at this point last year.

Soybean inspected since the start of September stand at 21.7 million tons, up from the 17.3 million at the same time a year ago.

Wheat inspections, since the start of the grain’s marketing year on June 1, are at 14.8 million metric tons, up from the 12.9 million tons assessed at this point last year, the USDA said in its report.

**

3. Cold Weather Expected in Minnesota, Wisconsin; Flooding Forecast in East-Central Midwest

Extremely cold weather is expected in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin today with a wintry mix potentially headed toward the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind chills as low as -20˚F. are expected along and north of Interstate 90 tonight into tomorrow morning, the NWS said in an early report.

On Thursday, there’s a chance for freezing rain and snow in the area.

Farther south, heavy rainfall is expected later this week in parts of southern Illinois, much of Indiana, the Missouri bootheel, and parts of three other states, the agency said.

At least 3 inches of rain are expected in that area with up to 5 inches forecast in some areas. The precipitation is forecast to start Thursday, but the heaviest rain will fall Friday into Saturday, the NWS said in a morning report.

“Nearly saturated ground conditions are already in place ahead of this upcoming rain system,” the agency said. “Therefore, flooding issues are likely to develop rather quickly. Flooding of low-lying and poorly drained areas, as well as low water crossings, can be expected. Where the heaviest rains occur, more significant flooding problems may develop.”