CORN AND WHEAT WEAKER, BEANS MIXED... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 2 to 4 cents lower, soybeans are modestly firmer in old-crop contracts and 4 to 7 cents lower in new-crop contracts, Chicago wheat is 3 to 4 cents lower, Kansas City wheat is mostly 4 to 8 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat is mostly 1 to 4 cents lower. The U.S. dollar index is anchored near unchanged this morning after two-sided trade overnight.
SENATE AG CHAIR STABENOW SAYS PANEL TO MARKUP BILL IN MAY... While not setting a specific date, Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said Thursday her panel will markup its version of a new farm bill in May. In addition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the full chamber would take up the bill yet next month so it can dedicate June to immigration reform. Reid also said the water resources development legislation would come before the chamber in May as well. With House leaders signaling they want their version of the farm bill done before the July 4 recess, that sets up time for differences to be ironed out between the two bills prior to the expiration of the current farm bill starting at the end of September.
NO FSA FURLOUGHS ON TAP... Employees of USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) won't face furloughs due to sequester-forced spending reductions, USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services Michael Scuse told the House Appropriations Ag subcommittee Thursday. Scuse said the furloughs would now not take place as the Office of Management and Budget has given USDA additional flexibility to avert the move. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week warned FSA workers could see furloughs up to 10 days. This marks yet another case where warnings of furloughs and other impacts have somehow been averted by "flexibility" within the administration.
U.S. GDP DATA AWAITED... The first look at U.S. GDP for the first quarter of 2013 will be released this morning and is expected to show the U.S. economy grew at about 3.2%. However, many are already looking past the first quarter results given the economic data for March that indicates the U.S. economy may be slowing. That may temper the impact of first quarter data today and unless it is a surprise, should mean no shift in Fed policies when they meet next Tuesday and Wednesday.
STILL WAITING ON CASH CATTLE TRADE... Packers in Nebraska bumped up cash cattle bids yesterday and there's talk of some plants in the state increasing hours Saturday and that others will run more hours a week from Saturday. So despite negative cutting margins, prospects for firmer cash cattle trade in the Plains seem to be improving.
PORK PRICE SURGE, BUT MOVEMENT SLOWS... The pork cutout value rose $1.70 Thursday as loin and belly prices surged. But movement slowed to 345.7 loads amid the higher prices. Still, action in the pork product market this week signals conditions are improving. Pork is expected to be prominently featured as temps finally warm and consumers fire up grills.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Japan purchased 31,700 MT of Australian or Canadian wheat, 34,024 MT of Australian or Canadian barley and 6,000 MT of Canadian malting barley. China bought 50,000 MT of European rapeseed oil.