Japan Advances Trade Deal, Opening Up Billions in Ag Export Opportunities
AgWeek – 11/22/2019
U.S. trade officials are still negotiating with China, with U.S. lawmakers on the U.S. Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. But it appears they are gaining ground on one major trade agreement, opening up new opportunities for U.S. ag exports. The lower house of Japan’s parliament on Tuesday, Nov. 19, approved the U.S. trade deal that would slash tariffs and set up new quotas for U.S. farm goods, according to reports out of Tokyo. Passage by the lower house sends the pact for consideration by the upper house of Japan’s Diet and U.S. officials are hopeful that a quick, full ratification will allow the trade deal to go into effect within several weeks…Wheat growers and exporters are also pleased. “This agreement puts U.S. wheat back on equal footing with wheat from Canada and Australia that currently have a tariff advantage under a separate trade deal,” said U.S. Wheat Associates Chairman Doug Goyings, when the agreement was first announced.
Zimbabwe Scraps Import Controls on Maize, Wheat Flour After Drought
Reuters – 11/21/2019
Zimbabwe has removed import controls on maize and wheat flour following a severe drought that cut supplies, a cabinet minister said on Thursday. More than half of Zimbabwe’s population requires food aid following an El Nino-induced drought that also reduced water levels in the biggest hydro dam, leading to rolling power cuts. Acting information minister Simangaliso Ndlovu said in a post-cabinet press statement that the government would now allow anyone to import maize, maize meal and flour. Import duty on the products had also been removed so they can be brought into the country cheaply. Ndlovu said the measures were temporary. Millers will no longer be able to buy grain at subsidized prices from the state grain agency, Ndlovu also said, in a move that takes immediate effect.
Russia’s VTB Joins EFKO’s Project to Build Black Sea Grain Terminal
Reuters – 11/21/2019
Russia’s state-controlled VTB has signed an agreement of intent with Russian vegetable oil and mayonnaise producer EFKO to jointly build a grain terminal in the Black Sea port of Taman, VTB said on Thursday. VTB, Russia’s second largest lender, has become a major physical grain exporter and the largest operator of Russia’s grain export terminals and other infrastructure after buying a local grain trader and several assets in 2019. VTB and EFKO plan to build infrastructure in Taman port with capacity to handle 12.5 million tonnes of grains and vegetable oil by-products, as well as 3 million tonnes of vegetable oils, VTB said in a statement.
Cold, Dry Weather Slows Winter Wheat Development
The Progressive Farmer – 11/21/2019
Central Kansas farmer Kyle Krier jumped into winter wheat planting two weeks early this year, haunted by the relentlessly wet weather that delayed planting last fall and forced him to declare prevented planting acres. “Normally, we like to start closer to the end of September, but we knew we had the right amount of moisture, and we still have last year looming large in our mind,” the Claflin, Kansas, farmer said. The early start this year paid off, because a month later, Mother Nature turned off the tap and cranked the thermostat way down across much of the Southern Plains. “We haven’t had rain in about a month and a half,” Krier said. “We’re definitely in the beginning of drought here.” The cold, dry weather has allowed wheat planting to progress more rapidly than last year — Kansas wheat was 86% emerged as of Oct. 18, close to the five-year average, and Oklahoma’s wheat emergence was 89%, the same as its five-year average pace. But the lack of moisture and warmth has a downside: It has left many wheat plants underdeveloped and facing a higher risk of winterkill and injury as they head into winter.
‘Perfect Storm’ of Fall Weather and Falling Numbers Hits Wheat Farmers Hard
Duluth News Tribune– 11/22/2019
Many farmers who grow wheat thought that might be the one crop to turn a profit this year. It had all the markings of the kind of harvest they’d hoped for, with good yields and high protein levels. But when they hauled the crop to sell it at elevators around the state, instead of big payouts, they were hit with deep per-bushel price reductions. Betsy Jensen, a farmer from Stephen, Minn., in northwest Minnesota’s Marshall County, was among them. She sold a truckload of wheat to the elevator shortly after harvest. “The price was supposed to be $4.85 [per bushel] and I got $3.85 [per bushel] instead for that load of wheat, because of a quality issue,” Jensen said. The culprit? A quality issue called “falling numbers.” It’s affecting farmers from Minnesota to Montana — the hard red spring wheat belt of the United States — “and it’s nothing that we have control over,” said Jensen.
Source: U.S. Wheat Associates