First Thing Today (VIP) -- October 31, 2013

October 31, 2013 01:07 AM


CORN AND BEANS FIRMER, WHEAT MIXED OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are 4 to 5 cents higher, soybeans are 4 to 10 cents higher, SRW wheat is fractionally to 1 cent higher, while HRW and HRS wheat are narrowly mixed. The U.S. dollar index is higher this morning.

BARRAGE OF WEEKLY EXPORT SALES DATA OUT THIS MORNING... USDA will release weekly export sales data for the weeks ended Oct. 10, 17 and 24 this morning as it gets caught up following the 16-day government shutdown. For the three weeks combined, traders expect: corn sales between 1.8 million and 3 million MT; wheat sales between 1.2 million and 2 million MT; soybean sales between 2.1 million and 3 million MT; soymeal sales between 700,000 and 1.5 million MT; and soyoil sales between 40,000 and 180,000 MT.

BRAZIL BOOSTS TARIFF-FREE WHEAT IMPORT QUOTA... Brazil has again raised its tariff-free wheat import quota, increasing it to 3.3 MMT, a rise of 600,000 MT. The country has been a major buyer of U.S. wheat after Argentine supplies were pared by weather, forcing Brazil to look elsewhere for supplies. In April, the country started its tariff-free quota for wheat that arrives in Brazil by Nov. 30.

FIRST FARM BILL CONFERENCE SHOWS SEVERAL LINGERING ISSUES... Farm bill conferees made clear during the first session on Wednesday that a quick agreement on a conference report will not occur because of several lingering issues. Several conferees made clear they do not want the farm bill savings to become bogged down in any budget-related agreement. House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said the budget committee could count whatever savings the farm bill achieves -- after the fact, but again noted that "you can’t have our money unless you take our policy." Lucas said that he is now "comfortable" that the budget conference will not interfere with the farm bill process. House members made clear they did not like the Senate’s proposed new restrictions on crop insurance. Several conferees, including Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), supported linking conservation compliance to crop insurance, a development many House negotiators strongly oppose. Some conferees called for addressing USDA's country-of-origin meat labeling rules and eliminating proposed restrictions on poultry industry contracting. Stabenow opposed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that would block California’s animal-handling regulations. Stabenow signaled she will use a cut in food aid benefits that takes effect Nov. 1 to argue for holding down the reduction to nutrition assistance in the farm bill, which the House bill (HR 2642) sets at $39 billion over 10 years. She said the benefit cut, coupled with the $4 billion over 10 years reduction for food aid in the Senate farm bill (S 954), would save $15 billion.

KEY LAWMAKER BLASTS SOME FARM GROUP LOBBYISTS... Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) defended the House bill’s Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program that ties payments to planted acres up to base acres. Conaway said, "Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about planting distortions. I don’t know whether people are misinformed or if they just have trouble shooting straight. We are this far in the farm bill process despite the groups who are recklessly obsessed with this issue." But Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said the PLC target prices would be set so high they would "practically guarantee" farm profits, a conclusion not supported by university research cited by other farm bill conferees. Conaway said it would change one-tenth of 1% of planted acreage.

PLACEMENTS KEY IN COF REPORT... USDA's Cattle on Feed Report this afternoon will show feedlot inventories well below year-ago, with the average pre-report guess down 7.4%. The Placements category will provide the "read" for the report. The average guess on that category is 100.7% of year-ago, but the guess range is from 97.5% to 107.0%. Marketings are guessed at 104.3% of year-earlier levels.

COLD STORAGE REPORT ALSO OUT THIS AFTERNOON... Traders are expecting pork stocks at the end of September to total 562.1 million lbs., based on the average pre-report guess. That would be up roughly 4% from the prior month, but more than 10% below year-ago. Beef stocks are guessed at 431.6 million lbs., which would be down modestly from the previous month but up slightly from year-ago.

CARGILL TO CONTINUE ZILMAX BAN... Cargill told Reuters Wednesday its ban on cattle fed Zilmax will continue until it is "100% confident" animal welfare issues are resolved and "until Asia and other trading partners accept it in their markets." The company also said the ban applies to all beef it processes and cattle in its own feedlots.

CASH CATTLE LIGHTLY TRADE HIGHER... Very light cash cattle trade occurred Wednesday at higher prices than last week's record levels, though most feedlots are holding out for even stronger cash bids. If cattle futures slump from their poor close yesterday, however, it could cause packers to pull back cash cattle bids and negatively impact this week's trade.

WEAKER CASH TONE TO CONTINUE... Packer demand for cash hogs will remain limited as they are planning a small Saturday kill and the pork cutout value dropped $1.58 Wednesday. Plus, market-ready supplies are building and kill weights are on the rise. Therefore, cash hog bids are expected to remain steady to weaker across the Midwest.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea tendered to buy 55,000 MT of optional origin corn.


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