Mildly firmer tone in grains and soybeans... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn and wheat futures are trading 1 to 2 cents higher, while soybeans are fractionally to 2 cents higher.
EPA defends decision not to reduce renewable fuel volumes via 2013 rule... The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defended its decision not to reduce the overall renewable fuel blending requirements for 2013 as a justifiable use of the agency's discretion under the Clean Air Act. EPA told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a Feb. 4 brief that petroleum refiners and importers had sufficient capacity to meet the statutory requirement to blend 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels into the nation's fuel supply in 2013, even though the agency greatly reduced the cellulosic ethanol mandate. EPA said the Clean Air Act gives it "broad discretion" to determine when it will use its waiver authority to reduce the annual blending requirement. The 2013 Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) rule is being challenged by the petroleum industry, including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and Monroe Energy LLC. EPA in its 2013 RFS rule had reduced the cellulosic ethanol blending requirement from the 1 billion gallons set out in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to 6 million gallons. However, the agency chose not to reduce the overall requirement to blend 16.55 billion gallons of renewable fuels into the fuel supply. EPA said that it projected there would be sufficient production of other advanced biofuels, including biomass-based diesel, to meet the statutory requirement. Barring that, the EPA said petroleum refiners and importers had stockpiled sufficient credits, known as renewable identification numbers (RINs), to cover any shortfall. Reducing the annual blending requirement unnecessarily would go against Congress's intent to promote the use of renewable fuels, EPA said. Petitioners' reply briefs are due Feb. 20.
Syngenta says Duracade corn 'sold out'... Syngenta's Duracade corn, which is commercially available for the first time this year, is "sold out," according to a company official. Syngenta has been under pressure to pull the product from the market due concerns about trade issues as the trait has not yet been approved by China or the European Union. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand have approved the new trait.
Germany to abstain from EU vote on GMO corn variety... Germany is planning to abstain when the European Union (EU) votes next week to approve a new GMO corn variety, according to a government spokesman. The corn strain, known as Pioneer 1507, is to be voted on next week and Germany abstaining from the vote could prompt the European Commission to go ahead and approve the variety. However, some contend that Germany’s opposition may still keep the approval from happening. The European Commission proposed approving the GMO variety in November.
Food safety law boost in inspections of imports at risk due to funding shortfall: FDA... The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) ability to increase inspections of imports and implement other key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) remains at risk for lack of funding, the FDA’s Mike Taylor told a House Energy Commerce subcommittee on Wednesday. "We can issue the regulations, we can put the rules on the books," said Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. "Where we’re lacking resources is for the implementation of the rules. ... That’s where we have the big funding gap in FSMA." Food imports have surged from about 400,000 shipments per year in the early 1990s to about 12 million shipments today, "but clearly our resources have not kept up with this exponential growth," Taylor said. Taylor said the two proposed new user fees would go "a long way" toward helping the FDA meet its food safety mandate under the law. They comprise a registration fee for domestic and foreign food facilities and an import user fee. Asked if a rule on preventive controls for animal food would extend to distillers’ grains that are used for livestock and poultry feed, Taylor said, "We know this is an issue. We’ll have to figure out a practical answer."
FAO raises global grain forecasts... The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raised its 2013-14 world cereal grains forecast by 1.7 MMT to 2.502 billion MT. The wheat forecast was raised 3.4 MMT to 714.2 MMT. Meanwhile, FAO's world food price index averaged 203.4 in January, down 2.8 points from December as all components except dairy prices declined.
Weekly export sales out this morning... For the week ended Jan. 30, traders expect: corn sales between 900,000 and 1.2 million MT; wheat sales between 500,000 and 750,000 MT; soybean sales between 550,000 and 850,000 MT; soymeal sales between 100,000 and 200,000 MT; and soyoil sales between 0 and 30,000 MT.
Beef plunge resumes... After a pause yesterday, wholesale beef prices continued their plunge today with Choice values falling $3.85 and Select down $2.58. Movement picked up to 179 loads, signaling lower prices are attracting more retailer buying, though movement isn't strong enough to signal prices have dropped "low enough."
Cash hogs called steady/firmer... Given weather delays today, many pork plants across the Midwest are still trying to secure hogs for Saturday's kill. That should keep cash hog bids steady to firmer, especially since packers are working with strong margins and have incentive to keep kill lines as full as possible.
Overnight demand news... Japan purchased 284,161 MT of wheat in its weekly tender, including 153,689 MT of U.S. supplies. Japan is buying more U.S. wheat amid concerns about shipping delays with Canadian wheat. Oman purchased 20,000 MT of Indian wheat.