First Thing Today (VIP) -- November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013 12:16 AM


CORN AND WHEAT FIRMER, BEANS WEAKER OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are 1 to 2 cents higher, soybeans are fractionally to 2 cents lower through the August 2014 contract and wheat futures are mostly 2 to 4 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is modestly weaker this morning.

CCI: HRW SLIPS, SRW HOLDS STEADY... When USDA's weekly crop condition ratings are plugged into the weighted Pro Farmer Crop Condition Index (0 to 500 point scale), the HRW crop slipped 3 points to 366, while the SRW crop held steady at 380. Of the HRW states, declines in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Montana outpaced slight gains in Kansas and Nebraska. Click here for more details.

ODDS DECLINING FOR REPEAL OF COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN LABELING (COOL) VIA FARM BILL PROCESS... The publicity regarding some farm-state lawmakers' attempts to repeal mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) has apparently galvanized opposition from COOL supporters to the extent that congressional sources now predict that while changes are still likely to be contained if there is any final farm bill, prior efforts to repeal the act authorizing COOL have diminished. Meanwhile, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently discussed this topic when he said the fate of mandatory COOL for meat products should be left out of the farm bill and handled by the World Trade Organization. The U.S. meat industry largely opposes the rule, and Canada and Mexico -- the two biggest sources of imported beef -- have challenged the law within the WTO. A group of Congressional members have proposed repealing COOL as part of the farm bill, which Vilsack said would set a bad precedent. Lawmakers in the U.S. should allow the WTO to continue its investigation into the challenges against COOL, Vilsack said last week. Congressional sources now signal that a move is underway by some farm bill leaders to come up with language that would specify a "North American label" relative to COOL issues.

EPA SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT FOLLOWING RELEASE OF DRAFT STRATEGIC PLAN OUTLINING PRIORITIES... The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today via a Federal Register notice seeks public comment regarding its draft strategic plan for Fiscal Years 2014-2018. The EPA's five strategic goals for the five-year period will be: (1) addressing climate change and improving air quality, (2) protecting water bodies, (3) cleaning up communities and promoting sustainable development, (4) ensuring chemical safety and preventing pollution, and (5) ensuring compliance and enforcement of existing laws. The comment period will run from Nov. 19 through Jan. 3, 2014. EPA plans to present its final strategic plan to Congress in February 2014, according to the notice.

MF GLOBAL MUST PAY BACK $1.21 BILLION... The failed brokerage firm must pay back $1.2 billion to ensure customers recover the losses sustained when the brokerage firm failed in 2011. The restitution follows a complaint filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission this year, alleging that MF Global unlawfully used customer funds for the firm’s needs. With $41 billion in assets, MF Global accounted for the eighth-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. CFTC said Monday that a federal court has approved the consent order for the fine for customer repayment. The firm also faces a $100 million civil penalty that must be paid after it has fully paid customers and certain creditors.

SLUGGISH START IN BOXED BEEF MARKET... Select boxed beef prices were $1.27 higher Monday, but Choice prices dropped 60 cents and packers moved only 115 loads of product on the day. Unless the boxed beef market strengthens, traders are concerned packers will be reluctant to raise cash cattle bids after paying up for supplies last week.

WHOLESALE PORK MARKET STRENGTHENS... The pork cutout value firmed 89 cents Monday and packers moved a solid 337.69 loads of product on the day. Despite the strength in the product market, cash hog bids are expected to remain steady to weaker across the Midwest as market-ready supplies are on the rise and hog weights are record-high.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Egypt tendered to buy at least one cargo of optional origin wheat and 20,000 to 30,000 MT of optional origin soybean oil. Japan is seeking 133,480 MT of wheat in its weekly tender.


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