News & Media

Market Briefs for March 17, 2017

New soybean facility
Southern soybean growers will reap the benefits of an expanded breeding program from Bayer, which includes a $6 million Soybean Breeding and Trait Development Station surrounded by 180 acres of research and showcase plots in Marion, Arkansas. Bayer and local leaders celebrated the grand opening of the facility earlier this month.

The innovative facility builds on a proven history of profitable, high-yielding soybean varieties that Bayer brings to market through its flagship Credenz soybean brand. Work here will focus on providing the maturity group (MG) 4 and 5 varieties that are essential to soybean production in the South.

Chinese pork imports
China will likely import around 3 MMT of pork in 2017, which would be similar to last year’s level, despite rising domestic production, Juhui Huang, the Shanghai-based vice president of the Brazilian food conglomerate BRF SA, told Reuters. He explained that global prices are still attractive for importing pork, most of which is used for processing into sausages and bacon.

Soybean, corn reports for Brazil
The week of March 6, AgRural reported that 56 percent of Brazil’s soybean crop had been harvested as of March 9, versus 52 percent last year at this point and 47 percent for the five-year average pace. The top-producing state of Mato Grosso remains well ahead of the norm at 88 percent complete. The group also said that 88 percent of the safrinha corn crop has now been planted, also ahead of 85 percent last year and 83 percent for the five-year average.

Cotton auctions spur optimism
China sold 30,000 MT of the cotton offered at its state reserve auction March 14, which was 93.79 percent of the total available. Throughout the week, users have been aggressive buyers, scooping up nearly all of the cotton available. Their impressive appetite for cotton has sparked hopes of stronger global cotton demand.

Perdue nomination hearing
The Senate Agriculture Committee is expected to set a date for U.S. Department of Agriculture nominee Sonny Perdue’s confirmation hearing soon. President Donald Trump noted his absence during his first cabinet meeting on March 13. With Perdue’s ethics paperwork and FBI background check complete, the Senate ag panel is reviewing the documents and will soon announce a date for the former Georgia governor’s confirmation hearing.

Avian influenza in Tennessee
A flock of chickens at a commercial poultry breeding operation in Giles County, Tennessee has tested positive for low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI), according to state officials. The flock is operated by a separate company from the one where a high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain was found in Lincoln County, and officials do not think that one farm sickened the other. State officials said the case in Giles County involved the H7N9 LPAI strain. The primary difference between LPAI and HPAI is the former has a lower mortality rate in domesticated poultry.

More countries ban U.S. poultry
The number of nations imposing bans on U.S. poultry in the wake of documented avian flu cases in both Tennessee and Wisconsin now stands at 33. On March 8, Cuba, Ukraine, Jamaica, Curacao, Uruguay and Macedonia joined the list maintained by U.S. Department of Agriculture, which also includes Hong Kong (an autonomous territory of China). Most countries have limited their bans to Lincoln County, Tennessee, and Barron County, Wisconsin, where the diseased birds were discovered, but a few are blocking poultry from the entire states of Tennessee and Wisconsin.

More on Syngenta takeover
Two officials with ChemChina say that on Feb. 9 the company submitted an application seeking approval of its $43 billion takeover of Syngenta to China’s Commerce Ministry. This contradicts statements from Gao Hucheng, who retired from his position as commerce minister less than two weeks ago. He said that ChemChina “has not submitted for [ministry of commerce] approval yet.” He added that the company first has to complete “all those regulatory approvals ... in the U.S. and Europe.” This comes a month after Syngenta pushed back its expected closure date for the deal to the second quarter.

Global food prices inching higher
Global food prices climbed slightly in February, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Food Price Index. The index climbed 0.9 points from January to February to 175.5 points, which is up 26 points (17.2 percent) from year-ago levels. FAO says that all of the indices for other commodities climbed last month, with the exception of vegetable oils. Cereals posted one of the more significant gains. FAO also pegged the 2017 global wheat crop at 744.5 MMT in its first forecast of the season. This would be down 1.8 percent from last year’s record crop but above the five-year average.