Update on Dow/DuPont merger
Dow Chemical and DuPont have offered to sell assets to address the European Union’s competition concerns and gain regulatory approval of their $130 billion merger agreement. A decision is expected by April 4, and the companies still hope to close the deal the first half of 2017. Meanwhile, Syngenta now says it does not expect the takeover deal by ChemChina to close until the second quarter of 2017, though it did note progress toward regulatory approval.
Argentine beef exports
Argentina expects to receive final approval to ship fresh beef to the U.S. in either April or May, according to Marisa Bircher, Argentina’s secretary of agroindustrial markets. Bircher also expressed hopes of boosting corn shipments to Mexico and other Latin American countries if U.S. relations with such countries sour or the country takes a more isolated approach. Last year, Argentina sent Mexico less than 100,000 MT of corn.
Chinese bird flu outbreak
Seventy-nine people in China died from H7N9 bird flu in January, which is four times higher than the same month the past two years, according to the government. This has raised concerns that this could be the worst season for the virus on record. Officially, China says there have been 306 cases of the virus since October, including 192 cases reported last month. But others believe the tally is higher.
Argentine soybean export forecast
A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ag attaché in Argentina forecasts the nation’s 2016-17 soybean crop at 55 MMT, which is steady with its previous crop forecast. The post estimates Argentina will export 9.5 MMT of soybeans this marketing year. Last week, USDA officially estimated the Argentine soybean crop at 55.5 MMT, with exports expected to total 9.0 MMT.
Pro Farmer raises bean estimate
Pro Farmer’s South American crop consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier raised his Brazilian soybean crop peg another 1 MMT to 105 MMT, noting timely rains in northeast Brazil recently, as well as ongoing “very good” yields out of Mato Grosso. Cordonnier has a neutral to slightly higher bias going forward. He left his Brazilian corn crop peg unchanged at 86 MMT, with a neutral to higher bias. He says yields are stronger than expected in Rio Grande do Sul, but the timing of safinha corn crop planting will be key. Nationwide, Brazil’s second corn crop is around 25 percent planted.
NCC cotton expectations
The National Cotton Council’s (NCC) Annual Planting Intentions survey found producers plan to plant 11.017 million acres to cotton in 2017. This would represent a 9.4-percent increase over 2016, when producers planted 10.07 million acres to cotton, according to the USDA. The NCC distributed its annual survey on Dec. 15, 2016, and collected responses through mid-January. The NCC is also projecting the U.S. will export 12.8 million bales of cotton in 2016-17. During the week of Feb. 6, the USDA projected the U.S. would ship 12.7 million bales of cotton this marketing year.
Notable Chinese soybean imports
China imported 7.66 MMT of soybeans in January, the highest figure for the month since at least 2010, according to customs data. Shipments were down from 9 MMT in December but up 35 percent from January 2016. Traders explained that delayed shipments arrived last month, plus crushing demand remains strong.
OPEC cut higher than expected
Since Jan. 1, the 11 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have cut their crude oil output by 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 29.921 million bpd, according to the average assessment of six secondary sources OPEC uses to monitor this output. This equates to 92 percent compliance with their output-cutting goal that’s aimed at curbing the supply glut and lifting prices. This compliance level was much higher than anticipated and well above an initial 60 percent compliance in 2009 when OPEC last agreed to cut production.
Argentine machinery sales surge
Ag machinery sales totaled 17,566 units in Argentina for 2016, a surge of 26.8 percent from the year prior, according to the government statistics agency. Farmers have quickly invested in better inputs and equipment to take advantage of the profit potential presented by relaxed export rules under President Mauricio Macri.
Intervention in trade spat sought
U.S. ethanol industry backers asked President Donald Trump to intervene in a trade dispute with China over ethanol and its animal-feed byproduct. The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council sent a letter to Trump asking the administration to address “China’s recent implementation of protectionist trade barriers that are shutting out U.S. exports of ethanol and distillers’ dried grains” (DDGs). The U.S. shipped more than $300 million of ethanol to China in 2016. In 2015, China bought $1.6 billion of DDGs.
China pushes regional subsidies
China is encouraging regional authorities in its top four corn-producing regions in the northeast to offer livestock feed companies subsidies to stimulate demand for a large crop. China recommended that the subsidy only be available to feed makers who produced more than 50,000 MT in 2015 and have local operations, according to a source cited by Reuters.