First Thing Today (VIP) -- March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013 01:00 AM


CORN AND WHEAT SLIGHTLY LOWER, BEANS MIXED... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading fractionally to 1 cent lower, soybeans are 3 to 4 cents higher in old-crop contracts and fractionally lower in new-crop contracts, Chicago wheat is 2 to 4 cents lower, Kansas City wheat is 2 to 7 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat is mixed. The U.S. dollar index is under pressure this morning.

SENATE BUMPS VOTES ON SPENDING BILL TO NEXT WEEK... Unable to reach an agreement to handle nearly 100 amendments to the Fiscal Year 2013 stop-gap spending bill, the Senate on Monday will continue dealing with the measure. The latest dispute is over which amendments, and how many, should get floor votes. Senate leaders oppose major changes over concerns they could stymie the bill's chances of being passed in the GOP-controlled House. On Thursday, Senators adopted an amendment by unanimous consent that would exempt farmers from certain EPA regulations. The amendment from Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) would prohibit the EPA from enforcing oil spill prevention regulations on farmers. Inhofe said the regulations were initially designed for oil refineries, but farms are caught in a "gray area" that requires them to complete volumes of paperwork, purchase double-wide containers and build berms around storage facilities. Farms storing oil are exempt from the regulation if an oil spill could not reasonably be expected to reach rivers and streams. The current six-month stop-gap spending law expires March 27.

CRUSH PACE SLOWED IN FEBRUARY... NOPA members are expected to report soybean crush totaled 142.4 million bu. in February based on the average pre-report guess. That would be down sharply from crush of 158.2 million bu. in January, due in part to three fewer business days last month. But crush margins also declined last month and there was strong competition for a tightening supply of soybeans from exporters. Soyoil stocks are guessed at 2.809 billion pounds.

CHINA TO ISSUE MORE COTTON IMPORT QUOTAS... China is expected to issue around an extra 800,000 MT of cotton import quotas in April after the government completes its stockpiling program at the end of this month, trade sources tell Reuters, The sources expect 600,000 MT of the total to be allocated to firms that export their products. Domestic supplies are tight as the Chinese government has stockpiled 93% of the country's 2012 crop to date.

RUSSIA AIMING FOR 5 MMT OF INTERVENTION STOCKS... Russia's grain intervention stockpile is expected to decline to around 300,000 MT at the end of the 2012-13 marketing year. According to the country's ag minister, Russia plans to bump that up to around 5 MMT with purchases of domestic supplies between August and October. Russia forecasts this year's grain crop at 95 MMT, with the wheat crop at 40 MMT to 50 MMT.

USDA’S VILSACK ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE OF DEPUTY SECRETARY MERRIGAN... Kathleen Merrigan, an advocate for organic agriculture, is exiting USDA, leaving open the number two spot at the Agriculture Department. Merrigan’s role at USDA and the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative has been controversial at times. Expectations are that current Chief of Staff Krysta Harden could end up in the Deputy Secretary role. Harden has been given high marks from those inside and outside USDA for being fair minded and helping USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack on several sensitive issues.

STILL WAITING ON CASH CATTLE TRADE... Bids and asking prices were still several dollars apart in the Plains as of late Thursday, suggesting active cash cattle trade may not be seen until late today. Most traders are still expecting steady to firmer cash cattle prices compared with last week's $128 trade, but a sharp drop in boxed beef prices and sluggish movement this week may keep packers from paying as much for cattle as some expect.

PORK PRODUCT MARKET STILL SEARCHING FOR A BOTTOM... Pork movement improved to 119.75 loads Thursday, but the cutout value was 90 cents lower. With the pork product market struggling to put in a low, traders will remain hesitant to actively buy lean hog futures.

CROP INSURANCE DEADLINE... Today is the deadline for purchasing or modifying crop insurance policies for most spring-planted crops.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Exporters reported no tenders or purchases.


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