December 20, 2021
Christmas is almost upon us, and the weather has turned to match the season. Thank you to everyone who attended, participated, and worked to make this year’s Prairie Grains Conference a success! Over 725 growers and industry partners came together to explore research, learn from industry experts, and reconnect and network. It was good to be back. Recordings of the general sessions and other presentations will be available next week.
As 2021 ends and we look forward to 2022 the calendar is already getting full…. Below is information for our Small Grains Update Meetings and updates from US Wheat, NAWG, and industry.
From all of us at MN Wheat, it is my pleasure to wish each of you a Merry Christmas. We look forward to working with you.
US Wheat Associates, Weekly Price Report – Michael Anderson
- Wheat futures ended the week mixed. CBOT soft red winter (SRW) futures lost 7 cents to close at $7.75/bu. KCBT hard red winter (HRW) futures were up 9 cents to end at $8.10/bu. MGE hard red spring (HRS) futures lost 17 cents to close at $10.22/bu. CBOT corn futures were up 5 cents to $5.93/bu. CBOT soybean futures were up 19 cents at $12.85/bu.
Commercial Sales: Commercial Sales – U.S. Wheat Associates (uswheat.org)
- Net U.S. wheat commercial sales of 650,600 metric tons (MT) for the week ending on December 9 for delivery in 2021/22 were up 171% from last week’s 239,900 (MT) and above trade expectations of 200,000 MT to 400,000 MT. Year-to-date commercial sales for delivery in 2021/22 total 15.2 million metric tons (MMT), 23% lower than the same time last year. USDA expects 2021/ 22 U.S. wheat exports will reach 22.8 MMT, 16% lower than last year if realized.
- Soil conditions improved this week for portions of the Plains states, from Wyoming and eastern Montana, stretching across the Dakotas and into Nebraska. Beneficial snowfall and precipitation led to short-term improvements to the drought. Warmer temperatures have allowed melted snow to seep into warmer soil, improving the overall soil moisture profile. Conversely, warmer temperatures did not help Texas or Oklahoma, where hot and dry conditions have led to deteriorating soil moisture. In the PNW, snow accumulated in high elevations from Oregon to Idaho.
Figure 1 – Dec 16th
National Policy Update – by: Mariah Wollweber
18 Senators Ask Biden Admin to Take India to the WTO on Wheat and Rice Subsidies
- 18 U.S. Senators sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai requesting the administration pursue a World Trade Organization (WTO) case against India’s domestic support for rice and wheat production. The United States has previously highlighted India’s non-compliance through counter-notifications at the WTO Committee on Agriculture. “Wheat and rice farmers rely on open markets and fair trade to facilitate trade, which plays a vital role in supporting our growers and jobs in rural America. NAWG appreciates Senator Boozman for leading this letter in the United States Senate,” said NAWG CEO Chandler Goule. Read the full press release here.
NAWG Signs on to South Africa H-2A Letter
- Following the proclamation from the Administration limiting travel from several countries, including South Africa due to the risk of COVID-19, NAWG signed on to a letter with other ag groups encouraging Secretary Blinken and Secretary Mayorkas to consider the H-2A guestworker visa program and exempt workers coming to the U.S. through this program from these restrictions. The most recent data indicates that almost 7,000 of these workers originate from South Africa, and the majority of them arrive in the U.S. in February, March and April. These workers are critical to the agricultural workforce, and it is essential farmers are able to secure them. Read the letter here.
USDA Invests $5.2 Billion to Build and Improve Critical Rural Infrastructure in 46 States and Puerto Rico
- Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve rural infrastructure in 46 states and Puerto Rico. The investments will help expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity to rural America. See how the investments are split up and read more here.
Excerpts from Minnesota Farm Bureau Weekly News Updates:
Farmers Struggle with Skyrocketing Fertilizer Prices
- Fertilizer prices continue to skyrocket, as much as 300% in some areas, as farmers grapple with increased costs as they prepare for the 2022 growing season. AFBF’s latest Market Intel examines the short- and long-term factors impacting fertilizer supply and demand.
- Farm Bureau economists found several elements are contributing to record-high prices including:
- Increased prices for raw nutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium;
- Increased global fertilizer demand;
- Increased energy costs;
- Distribution and supply chain disruptions; and
- Farmers Struggle with Skyrocketing Fertilizer Prices (fb.org)
Ag Labor Must be Exempt from Travel Restrictions
- Minnesota Farm Bureau, along with more than 60 other agriculture groups, sent a letter Monday to the Biden administration requesting that agricultural workers be exempted from travel restrictions from South Africa. The “Proclamation on Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus Disease 2019” prohibits travel for individuals from several countries, including South Africa, due to concerns over the omicron variant. The letter also requests flexibility in regard to the “Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which limits entry into the United States to only those fully vaccinated with a CDC-approved vaccine with limited exceptions.
- Ag Labor Must be Exempt from Travel Restrictions (fb.org)
Excerpts from the Minnesota Farmers Union E-News:
Legislative Update: Historic Surplus, January Session
By: Stu Lourey, MFU Government Relations Director
The 2022 state legislative session is set to kick off at noon on Monday, January 31st. Legislators will be faced with responding to emergent needs, including COVID-19, continued effects of this summer’s drought, and rising costs of consumer goods. In addition, they are expected to develop plan for redistricting, allocating federal spending, and bonding bill for state-owned capital investments.
These important decisions will happen within the context of an expected $7.7 billion surplus—the largest recorded in state history—divided partisan control of state government, and the impending midterm elections in November. As always, MFU’s legislative team will work hard to ensure that our family farmer members voices are strong at the capitol. Given both the historic surplus and the great needs facing many families, this could be a pivotal year for legislative work. It is important that policy makers understand and consider the needs and perspectives of farmers and rural Minnesotans as they make decisions that could have a lasting effect on our state.
In December, state budget officials delivered welcome news. Despite economic pain concentrated in certain parts of the economy, the state’s fiscal health is strong. The agency responsible for managing the state’s finances announced a record-breaking $7.7 billion estimated surplus going into the second year of the biennium. This surplus is made up of money that was carried forward from the previous year, savings from the current year, and increased tax revenue from consumer spending and record-breaking corporate profits. Examples of state savings include salaried positions that went unfilled across state government. Increases in revenue, according to state economists, stem from wage increases in certain sectors of the economy, a shift in spending from services to goods, and unparalleled corporate growth. Forecasters estimated a staggering 19 percent corporate growth this year.
Significantly, the estimated surplus includes neither the $1.1 billion in federal dollars that the legislature is charged with allocating this upcoming year according to an agreement struck last session nor the money needed to replenish the state’s budget reserves that were tapped to address needs early in the pandemic. The budget estimate also does not factor in possible spending from the Build Back Better reconciliation package currently under debate in congress or the potential economic impact of the Omicron variant.
Governor Walz and others acknowledged that—while this is good news resulting from difficult decisions—many Minnesotans will not see this statewide economic outlook reflected in their individual family budgets. The economic recovery has been uneven.
With that in mind, the Governor laid out his vision for the capitalizing on the opportunity a historic surplus represents. Important for MFU’s priorities outlined in the Special Orders passed at our convention in November, the Governor referenced creating a state-based OneCare ‘buy-in’ healthcare option to help farmers and others who need to purchase insurance on the individual market. He also discussed lowering energy costs and making investments in fighting climate change.
“We’re going to lower costs for Minnesotans in permanent ways, on the things that impact their lives,” the Governor shared at a press conference announcing the surplus. “We’re going to make sure we’re investing in the middle class and families because they’re the ones that made the economy strong in the first place. And we’re going to lend a hand to those who haven’t recovered and were disproportionately hit by COVID.”
State Senator Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), who chairs the powerful Senate Finance Committee, urged leaders to “exercise some caution” and shared her caucus’s priorities for delivering tax cuts and providing more targeted relief.
Importantly, and since this is the second year in the state’s biannual budgeting cycle, the legislature is not required to pass a budget. Traditionally, they would craft a bonding package to borrow for publicly-owned capital investments, like bridges, wastewater treatment facilities, and state buildings. And lawmakers are already hard at work drafting updated district maps for legislative districts, a process that will be passed to the courts if lawmakers do not come to an agreement by mid-February.
While these dynamics could divide lawmakers’ attention, there is no question that the surplus bodes well for making progress on the legislative priorities MFU laid out at our annual convention in November. Budgetary limitations represent a central hurdle to securing investments in climate smart agriculture, building out local processing capacity, assisting in generational farm transition, and making healthcare more affordable.
We’re looking forward to getting to work in late January with and for MFU’s family farmer members. As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or ideas about MFU’s legislative work, please do let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or (320) 232-3047 (C).