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First Thing Today (VIP) -- April 21, 2014

06:33AM Apr 21, 2014

Good morning!

Weaker price action in grain/soy futures to start the week... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 3 to 4 cents lower, soybeans are 2 to 7 cents lower and wheat futures are 10 to 15 cents lower with SRW contracts leading losses. The U.S. dollar index is modestly firmer after quiet, two-sided trade overnight.

Plains get scattered rains, more in the forecast... Wheat futures are under pressure to start the week after rains pushed through the Southern and Central Plains over the holiday weekend. While the rains provided needed moisture, they were generally light and scattered through the driest areas. Forecasts call for more scattered rains this week, though forecast models aren't in agreement. The U.S. model is wetter, while the European model has a drier outlook. Scattered rains are also likely across the Corn Belt this week, with the heaviest totals expected in western and northern areas of the region.

Congress returns April 28, as Obama takes trip to Asia... In Washington, both the House and Senate remain on recess until the week of April 28. President Obama later this week begins his trip to Asia, with stops in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia. Meanwhile, the Russia/Ukraine tensions are ongoing. Vice President Joe Biden will meet Ukrainian officials in Kiev on Tuesday. While U.S. markets were closed last Friday, some global markets are also closed on Monday in observance of Easter. For agriculture, USDA's Crop Progress Report this afternoon is expected to show continued deterioration of the HRW crop after last week's freeze and ongoing drought in the Plains. The weekly export sales update Thursday will remain a focus, while Friday will bring updates on U.S. food prices and the monthly Cattle on Feed Report from USDA. Plus, Canada will release the equivalent of their planting intentions report.

EPA today to release waters definition... Nearly a month after it was first announced, EPA is publishing today its proposed rule defining "Waters of the United States" -- and the reach of the Clean Water Act. It is a 375-page rule. The publication begins a 90-day comment period.

Report: China to maintain high grain output needed for food security... China's rate of self-sufficiency in its staple grains -- rice, wheat and corn -- will be high enough to realize the government's food security target for the decade, according to a report from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The report also said soybean imports will continue to rise but at a slower rate over the next 10 years. Meat and dairy imports will see rising growth.

Obama administration again delays Keystone XL pipeline decision... The Obama administration’s announcement Friday afternoon of another delay for the Keystone XL pipeline brought quick reaction, with both Republicans and red-state Democrats condemning the move. The announcement cited litigation in Nebraska that could affect the pipeline’s route; as a result federal agencies will have more time to weigh in on the project before a final decision is made. "There’s no intent to delay the process," a senior State Department official said. But supporters of the pipeline were quick to react. "Here’s the single greatest shovel-ready project in America -- one that could create thousands of jobs right away -- but the president simply isn’t interested," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said she would "take decisive action to get this pipeline permit approved." On the other hand, her counterpart at Environment and Public Works, Democrat Barbara Boxer of California, said the delay was "entirely correct."

USDA announces PEDV efforts... USDA Friday announced a series of actions on porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), including mandatory reporting of the disease (and the Swine Delta Coronavirus) and tracking of pigs, vehicles and other equipment leaving affected farms. But there are no restrictions on movement. The Farm Service Agency is also working with impacted producers that are borrowers under the farm loan program to restructure their loans. USDA is also working with the hog industry to boost help for producers impacted by PEDV and is continuing to assist researchers.

Cash cattle traded lower... Cash cattle traded around $1 lower in the Central and Southern Plains Friday. Trading volume was thought to be light, which would mean bigger showlist supplies for this week. If that's the case, it would favor packers in this week's cash cattle negotiations. But some cash sources believe packers are short-bought and will need to buy more cattle this week.

Cash hogs called steady/weaker... Some plants are thought to be short-bought on slaughter supplies coming out of Easter. As a result, demand may be a little stronger than recent weeks, but cash hog bids are still expected to be steady to weaker across the Midwest.

Weekend demand news... Exporters reported no tenders or purchases.