First Thing Today (VIP) -- March 5, 2014

March 5, 2014 12:06 AM

Good morning!

Light and choppy price action in grains overnight... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn, soybean and wheat futures are all narrowly mixed in light and choppy trade. The U.S. dollar index is anchored near unchanged.

U.S., Russia to meet re: Ukraine... U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are due to meet in Paris today for their first face-to-face meeting to discuss the situation. Russian troops remain in control of Crimea, and while President Vladimir Putin yesterday ruled out annexing the region, there is no sign that the soldiers will be returning to their bases.

China may approve Viptera corn in first half of this year... It's "possible" China could approve Syngenta's Agrisure Viptera corn (MIR 162) sometime in the first half of this year, Vice Agriculture Minister Niu Dun told Reuters. The unapproved trait has caused the country to reject 887,000 MT of U.S. corn shipments since November. He says the approval process is ongoing and could go through "quickly," though the timing of approval is up to the ag ministry's biosafety committee.

China to remain focused on food security... China plans to increase subsidies for grain and meat production, and expand grain production capacity this year as it strives for greater food security, according to the National Development and Reform Commission. The country's economic planner says stockpiling programs for corn, rapeseed and sugar will continue -- stockpiling for cotton and soybeans has been abolished.

Chinese premier outlines economic forecast... As part of the National People's Congress planning session, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang says the country aims for economic growth of 7.5% this year, which is the same target as last year, though 2013 GDP grew at a 7.7% clip. China also aims to keep inflation at no more than 3.5% this year. Li said economic reform is his primary priority while keeping an eye on growth.

High anxiety in hog country re: PEDV... The vicious virus racing through the U.S. hog industry, porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), is a black cloud hanging over hog producers. So much so that some hog producers do not want to leave their operations -- even to go to church or to attend industry meetings. The impact is also negatively affecting the amount of money state pork groups get from the checkoff program, and that in turn is negatively impacting many worthwhile state pork producer group programs. Some producers are beginning to ask what if anything lawmakers have done or can do for them. The recent livestock indemnity program in the new farm bill apparently will not be of help. Ditto for the Animal Health Protection Act that is on the books but needs Congress to provide funding.

A drought- and water-aid package could move in Congress... A multi-year drought in California and parts of the Southwest is leading some to up the odds of a potential disaster aid package in Congress. Some say this could be a vehicle to help hog producers impacted by PEDV. Water-related issues are growing in some of the same states, so much so that either limited water supplies or regulations are forcing some changes in cropping and livestock operations -- including feedlots.

Wholesale beef prices continue to strengthen... Choice boxed beef values were another $2.64 higher and Select values firmed $1.93 yesterday. While movement slowed to 117 loads, suggesting retailers may be balking at the higher prices, rising boxed beef prices along with tighter showlist numbers have traders hoping cash cattle bids will rise from last week's record $150 to $152 trade in the Plains.

Pork cutout continues to rise... The pork cutout value firmed another $1.54 and packers moved a solid 365.99 loads of product yesterday. There's still plenty of demand despite surging prices as pork is cheap compared to beef. With the rising pork cutout value keeping packer margins in the black, cash hog bids will remain steady to firmer.

Overnight demand news... Algerian purchased 300,000 to 350,000 MT of optional origin (likely French) wheat. Japan bought 24,780 MT of feed wheat and 48,990 MT of feed barley. Tunisia tendered to buy 92,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat. Lebanon tendered to buy 25,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat. India tendered to export 150,000 MT of wheat.


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