VARIED PRICE ACTION THIS MORNING... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are mixed with a slight upside bias, soybeans are 3 to 9 cents lower, Chicago and Minneapolis wheat are narrowly mixed and Kansas City wheat is mostly 1 to 3 cents lower. The U.S. dollar index is modestly firmer this morning.
VILSACK TO APPEAR TODAY BEFORE HOUSE AG PANEL... USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will appear before the House Agriculture Committee to talk about the farm economy. Panel members will likely focus their questions on the sequester and the administration’s threat to furlough meat inspectors for up to 15 days and shut down packers for that period, if the sequester takes place.
RUSSIA MAY EXTEND DUTY-FREE PERIOD FOR GRAIN IMPORTS... Russia may give importers until Aug. 1, an additional month from the original proposal, to bring in grains duty-free, according to the country's ag minister. On Monday, Russia's economy minister reiterated the country plans to start duty-free imports in March or April.
BLACK SEA WINTER GRAINS UPDATE... The condition of Russia's winter grain crops is worse than normal, according to the head of the Russian Grain Union. He says around 2 million hectares (12.6% of sown area) have been destroyed by winterkill. That's greater than 12% impacted by winterkill last year and 8% over the five year period from 2007-2011. Meanwhile, Ukraine's national weather center says only 9% of country's winter grain crops are in "poor" condition, which is within the historical norm. The center says it expects Ukraine's grain production to increase 20% to 30% from last year's 46.2 MMT output.
CASH CATTLE UNCERTAINTY... Harsh weather conditions from the Texas Panhandle up through Kansas are raising a lot of uncertainty with this week's cash cattle trade in the Plains. Because of wintry conditions, cash sources say feedlots are still trying to figure out how many cattle they have for sale this week and packers are still assessing needs. As a result, active cash cattle trade is not expected until late in the week.
POSITIVE MARGINS NOT ENOUGH TO BOOST CASH HOG BIDS... While cutting margins are now solidly in the black, packers are expected to keep cash hog bids steady to weaker at most Midwest locations. Most pork plants are thought to have the bulk of this week's slaughter needs already secured and aren't expecting problems securing remaining needs with weaker cash hog bids.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Japanese feedmakers bought one cargo (around 50,000 MT) of U.S. SRW wheat. Taiwan tendered to buy 93,680 MT of U.S. wheat.