PRICE PRESSURE OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading mostly 1 to 2 cents lower, soybeans 10 to 15 cents lower and wheat futures are mostly 5 to 8 cents lower at all three exchanges. The U.S. dollar index is modestly weaker this morning, but well off the overnight lows.
FARM BILL MEETING AT USDA LEADS TO NO CONCLUSIONS, JUST TALK... Ag committee leaders in the Senate and House met Thursday with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at USDA to discuss various new farm bill issues. "We're going to do everything we can to work together to get a farm bill done," said Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) after the 40-minute meeting. Stabenow said she was open to attaching a new farm bill to any legislation passed to avert fiscal cliff impacts, but to do that the Senate and House would have to come to agreement on thorny issues such as food stamps and farm subsidy levels. Vilsack said his goal for the meeting was to "get all four folks who are critical to this process in a room at the same time to talk to each other and we accomplished that."
FARM BILL END ZONE DOWN TO THREE OPTIONS... Whenever the final verdict on the new farm bill comes, sources say it will come down to three possibilities: (1) 5-year farm bill as part of a big fiscal cliff package; (2) 1-year modified extension with no cuts and reconciliation-style process next year to get cuts; (3) 1-year modified extension with cuts and part of a larger deal in 2013.
CHINESE GRAIN PRODUCTION RECORD LARGE FOR NINTH STRAIGHT YEAR... China's 2012 grain production was a record 589.57 MMT, up 3.2% from 2011, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Corn production rose 8% from year-ago to a record 208.12 MMT, the first time ever corn has outproduced rice in China.
INDIA APPROVES ADDITIONAL WHEAT EXPORTS.. India's cabinet approved an additional 2.5 MMT of wheat from government stocks on Thursday. This tonnage is on top of the 2 MMT the cabinet has previously allowed. India has plentiful government supplies and the 2012-13 crop is projected to be strong, allowing the country to free up wheat exports to take advantage of strong prices amid tightening global supplies.
WINTER GRAINS IN RUSSIA'S 'BREAD BASKET' WORSE THAN NORMAL... Winter grains are rated 12% "poor" in Russia's South region and 17% "poor" in the North Caucasus region, according to the government weather forecasting center. Those ratings are worse than year-go and the five-year average for those regions. Meanwhile, conditions are better than year-ago and the five-year average in the Volga and Central regions.
STILL WAITING ON ACTIVE CASH CATTLE TRADE... So far only light cash cattle trade has been seen at steady prices with week-ago in Texas early in the week and in the Nebraska dressed market yesterday. Based on price action in December live cattle futures, traders are anticipating steady to slightly firmer cash cattle trade to eventually be seen, although active trade may not occur until late today.
PORK PRODUCT MARKET RETREATS... After five consecutive days of gains, the pork cutout value dropped 52 cents yesterday. Still, packer margins are profitable and that should be enough to keep cash hog bids steady to firmer across the Midwest. Plants are still working to secure supplies for early next week.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea purchased 55,000 MT of soymeal and 75,800 MT of Australian wheat. Japan bought 30,652 MT of milling wheat, 5,050 MT of malting barley and 790 MT of food-grade barley. India tendered to export a total of 300,000 MT of wheat.