First Thing Today (VIP) -- February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014 12:26 AM

Good morning!

Light and choppy trade overnight... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading steady to fractionally lower, soybeans are narrowly mixed and wheat futures are steady to 4 cents higher in most contracts with HRS futures leading the way. The U.S. dollar index is holding near unchanged this morning.

Texas winter wheat crop continues to deteriorate... Texas state statisticians rate 17% of the state's winter wheat crop in "good" to "excellent" shape (down from 18% last week), with 39% "fair" (41% last week) and 44% in "poor" to "very poor" (41% last week). The report notes most areas of the state received only trace amounts of precip, elevating drought concerns.

Iowa cellulosic ethanol plan to be operational by June... The POET-DSM ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa, that will produce the biofuel from corn stover will be operational by June, according to a general manager for the plant. He says the plant will likely make 7 million to 12 million gallons of ethanol this year -- "probably be closer to the 7 than the 12." The plant has capacity to produce 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol per year.

Russia to resume U.S. pork imports in March... Russia plans to resume pork imports from the U.S. and Brazil in March, according to Russia's veterinary and phytosanitary service (VPSS), as the country looks to compensate for reduced imports from the European Union. A VPSS spokesperson says, "We will allow supplies from firms which guarantee us that they don't use ractopamine."

China to stockpile pork to aid prices... China will begin buying pork for state reserves in an attempt to slow the drop in hog prices since mid-December, according to the National Development and Reform Commission. The government economic planner gave no indication of how much pork will be purchased or the length of the stockpiling.

Another strong day for boxed beef market... Following Monday's strong performance, boxed beef prices were $1.01 (Choice) to $1.70 (Select) higher yesterday and movement was decent at 155 loads. With the wholesale beef market signaling a short-term low is in place, hopes for higher cash cattle trade in the Plains are building.

Pork cutout continues to firm... The pork cutout value firmed another 47 cents Tuesday and movement was solid at 322.85 loads. With the pork product market strengthening and packer margins deep in the black, cash hog bids will remain steady to firmer across the Midwest today as packers have incentive to fill up kill lines.

Report: 'Wall Street Banks Eye American Farmland, Threaten Future of U.S. Agriculture'... Wall Street investors are eyeing millions of acres of U.S. farmland that will soon come up for sale, much of which has been in the hands of family farmers for generations, according to Down on the Farm, a new study from the Oakland Institute. "Institutional investors" -- including hedge funds, private equity, pension funds, and university endowments --have trained their sights on America's agricultural infrastructure," said Lukas Ross, an Oakland Institute Fellow and author of the report. "If they succeed in consolidating control over our land and infrastructure, this new class of land barons could imperil our nation's food supply." "Investors are increasingly interested in capitalizing on the run-up in the value of private-equity assets. So they're lining up to purchase some 400 million acres that will become available over the next two decades. That's half of all U.S. farmland," the report noted in what appears to be a lofty statement. The report appears populist and activist in many areas, but is being noted in several farm-state newspapers this morning.

Overnight demand news... Japan purchased 42,908 MT of Canadian milling wheat. Japan received no bids in its tender to buy 120,000 MT of feed wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barley.


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