Strong week for soybean meal sales

USDA reports soybean meal export sales for the week ending July 31 were larger than expected, while corn, soybeans, and soybean oil were within the anticipated range, and wheat was below pre-report estimates. Physical shipments of soybeans were above what’s needed weekly to meet USDA projections for the current marketing year, but corn and wheat fell short of their respective marks.

Wheat came out at 590,900 tons (21.7 million bushels), down 26% from the week ending July 24 and 24% lower than the four week average. Nigeria purchased 222,400 tons and Taiwan bought 85,300 tons. For the 2014/15 marketing year to date, wheat sales are 379.3 million bushels, compared to 500.4 million in 2013/14. Sales of 30,000 tons (1.1 million bushels) for 2015/16 delivery were to Nigeria.

Corn was reported at 120,900 tons (4.8 million bushels), 30% less than the previous week and 66% below the four week average. Japan picked up 185,200 tons and Israel purchased 69,000 tons, but unknown destinations canceled on 287,300 tons and Egypt canceled on 68,000 tons. With four reporting weeks left in the 2013/14 marketing year, corn sales are 1.919 billion bushels, compared to 752.3 million in 2012/13. Sales of 758,700 tons (29.9 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were mainly to Colombia (237,000 tons) and Mexico (186,200 tons).

Soybeans were pegged at 94,900 tons (3.5 million bushels), a decrease of 49% on the week and 25% under the four week average. Indonesia bought 72,400 tons and China picked up 8,000 tons. At this point in the marketing year, soybean sales are 1.695 billion bushels, compared to 1.366 billion this time last year. Sales of 1,008,600 tons (37.1 million bushels) for 2014/15 delivery were primarily to China (700,000 tons) and unknown destinations (138,000 tons).

Soybean meal came out at 252,100 tons, up sharply from both last week and the four week average. Ireland purchased 86,000 tons and Egypt bought 50,000 tons. So far this marketing year, soybean meal sales are 10,335,700 tons, compared to 9,786,700 a year ago. Sales of 479,000 tons for 2014/15 delivery were mostly to unknown destinations (349,800 tons) and the Philippines (41,000 tons).

Soybean oil was reported at 15,400 tons, 21% higher than the week before and 68% more than the four week average. The Dominican Republic picked up 7,300 tons and Switzerland purchased 7,000 tons, while unknown destinations canceled on 9,900 tons. 2013/14 soybean oil sales are 810,600 tons, compared to 911,900 in 2012/13.

Net beef sales totaled 12,000 tons, down 31% from the prior week and 13% lower than the four week average. The listed buyers were Japan (8,100 tons), Canada (1,200 tons), Hong Kong (900 tons), South Korea (700 tons), and Taiwan (300 tons).

USDA states that due to late reported sales and exports from earlier this year that weren’t reported until this week, pork totaled 254,300 tons. The reported purchasers were Mexico (70,900 tons), Japan (57,900 tons), Russia (42,600 tons), China (31,200 tons), and South Korea (19,100 tons).


Russia bans U.S. ag imports

Russia is banning imports of ALL U.S. ag products and sanctioning other countries for one year that have imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis.  Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree today. According to Reuters, it also bans fruit and vegetable imports from the E.U.

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says it’s a clear political move and that Russian consumers will be the biggest losers because they’ll be forced to pay more for food.

American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser says “Russia is a key trading partner for U.S. agriculture,” but while important it is “only one of hundreds of our customers worldwide.” By limiting Russians’ access to American soybeans and other products, Gaesser says President Putin is doing “a great disservice to his Russian countrymen and women.”

Russia’s move has supported wheat because it could lead to increased U.S. exports to countries that would normally be served by Russia or Ukraine. Ukraine’s also a sizeable exporter of corn.

MO Right to Farm passes by 2,500 votes

By 2,500 votes, Amendment One, the farming rights amendment has passed in Missouri. Because of the close margin, a recount is automatically triggered.

Missouri Farmers Care Coalition’s Dan Kleinsorge tells Brownfield Ag News he did not expect it to be this close, “I’d say it was closer than I expected. We had a feeling it was going to be close at the end – but, obviously, about a quarter of a percent is about as close as it can get – but we are still very pleased that we won.” Kleinsorge says they’re proud of the campaign they have run.

Wes Shoemyer, who led the opposition through Missouri Food For America heavily funded by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says they are definitely counting on a recount but wish more Missourians would have heard their message, “There’s a lot of things that may come out. I mean, I think, when you have the ballot language that was written the way it was – it was pretty deceptive and, you know, a lot of people were…. We just had to educate more people. That’s the bottom line.”

Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst says Missouri farmers understand that the right to farm is more than just a right. Hurst says, “We understand that there’s responsibility to go with that. That we have to continue to be good stewards of the soil and the environment and the animals in our care and we will do that. We understand what a great trust you’ve placed in us as an industry and we’ll be worthy of that.”

The Amendment One vote will have to be certified by the Secretary of State’s office then the process of a recount begins because the final vote was within a one-percent margin. That process could take several months.

Interview with Dan Kleinsorge (3:00 mp3)

Missourinet - Right to farm facing recount

Zoetis to seek approval for PEDV vaccine

An official with animal health company Zoetis says the company is seeking U.S. approval before the end of this year for a PEDv vaccine.

There is only one other vaccine to help prevent Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus in pigs – by Harrisvaccines, which was granted conditional approval from the USDA for its vaccine in June.

The CEO of Zoetis (Juan Ramon Alaix) told analysts during a quarterly earnings conference call on Tuesday that the company would seek a conditional license from the USDA before 2015.

Conditional license for PEDv vaccine

Vilsack says voluntary conservation programs are working

There’s been considerable debate as to whether farming conservation practices should remain voluntary or be made mandatory.  But Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack believes voluntary programs are working and that farmers are embracing new conservation practices.

Conference_LOGO“We’ve recently done a series of assessments in the Upper Mississippi River Basin and in the Chesapeake Bay area, specifically, that show and indicate that voluntary conservation is reducing nitrogen and phosphorous intake into our rivers and streams and reducing the rate of soil erosion,” Vilsack says.

Vilsack spoke via phone to an Ames, Iowa conference on the sustainability and resilience of corn-based cropping systems.  He says, going forward, farmers will need to adapt to highly variable and unpredictable weather and long term changing climate conditions.

“On the one hand we’re likely going to see longer growing seasons, which could potentially give rise to increased crop productivity,” says Vilsack. “But on the other hand, we’re also likely going to experience more extreme weather events and additional and more significant pest and disease risks, all of which could substantially reduce crop production.”

The Resilient Agriculture Conference in Ames has drawn farmers, crop advisers and scientists from all across the U.S.  It’s sponsored by the USDA’s Sustainable Corn Project and the 25x’25 Alliance.

AUDIO: Excerpts from Vilsack’s conference call (16:52 MP3)

NCBA monitors ‘Dietary Guidelines’ process

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is keeping a close eye on the development of new federal dietary guidelines to be released in 2015.

butts-kristina-denver 7-14Kristina Butts is NCBA’s executive director of legislative affairs.  Butts says the dietary guidelines advisory committee, which consists of nutrition and health professionals, has been delving into sustainability and environmental issues in food production—topics that NCBA believes are outside the scope of the committee.

“On the beef side, they were trying to ask questions on if grass-finished beef is more nutritious than grain-finished beef—and then if grass-finished beef is more sustainable than grain-fed beef,” Butts says.

NCBA has concerns, Butts says, with nutrition and health professionals trying to make recommendations based on animal production-type research.

“They don’t have the background or the expertise to even be able to review some of the scientific literature—to be able to make those conclusions,” she says, “and at the end of the day, how does sustainability fit into conversations talking about childhood obesity, etc.?”

In addition, Butts says, animal rights activists and other anti-meat groups continue to promote their vegan agenda to the dietary guidelines committee.

Butts says NCBA is staying in contact with officials at USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the two agencies with final say on the dietary guidelines.  She says farm-state members of Congress are also monitoring the development of those guidelines to make sure they don’t stray too far from the original intent.

AUDIO: Kristina Butts (5:28 MP3)

Beef herd expansion ‘accelerating’

It looks like the long-awaited expansion of the nation’s beef cattle herd is finally gaining some momentum.

Kevin Good

Kevin Good

Heifer slaughter is down seven percent and beef cow slaughter down 16 percent in 2014. Kevin Good, senior market analyst with CattleFax, says if the trend continues, the cow herd could increase by up to two million head—from the current 29 million up to 31 million—by 2018.

“If moisture conditions stay as good or improved going forward, and that’s always a big ‘if’,” Good says. “But doggone, the profitability is there to get after it and expand.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Bob McCan, a rancher from south Texas, says much better weather in 2014 has cattlemen in that part of the country thinking expansion.

“You know, it’s an expensive proposition right now, but our markets are good and our folks have built a lot of equity in their companies,” McCan says. “So I think they can realize that this is a good time to go ahead and make that big investment to kind of expand their businesses—and I think they see the returns.”

Good thinks 2015 prices and profitability, for all segments of the industry, could be just as good—or better—than 2014.

AUDIO: Kevin Good interview with Ken Anderson and Ron Hays (7:24 MP3)

Beef demand continues to amaze

As cattle and beef prices continue to set record highs, a common question among cattlemen is “will we reach a point where people stop eating beef?”

John Lundeen, senior executive director of market research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, says beef demand remains strong and shows no signs of weakening.  But is there a price level that will cause people to stop buying beef?

beef-meatcase“I always say it’s not a cliff—it’s like a slow hill that you climb.  At every price, there’s another family that has to cut back a little bit on their beef consumption,” Lundeen says. “People are spending just as much on beef, but they may be getting less pounds.  And with supply down, we are in a situation where people are going to get a little less beef than they have historically.”

But while the higher prices have caused some consumers to cut back on their consumption, Lundeen doesn’t think beef-eating habits have been altered long-term.

“When people have more money in their pocket, they want to buy beef.  We’re seeing more pounds sold in food service,” he says. “So I look at the underlying dynamics driving the beef industry and I feel quite positive.”

We talked to Lundeen at the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.

AUDIO: John Lundeen (5:06 MP3)

NCBA hammers away at EPA’s water rule

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is encouraging its members and all cattlemen to submit comments on the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

NCBA environmental counsel Ashley McDonald says, in the case of cattlemen, the impact of the rule will be significant.

“If you increase regulation by the federal government to include things like ditches, all ponds, any open water within a flood plain and a riparian area—if all those features are now jurisdictional, there are a lot more activities that we are going to need Section 404 dredge and fill permits for,” says McDonald.  “There are a lot more activities that you are going to need a 402 NPDES permit for—things like spraying pesticides and spraying herbicides.”

McDonald says even an activity like brush management may need a permit.

“Those permits—one, they’re not cheap, and two, they take a long time to get through the regulatory system,” she says. “So there’s going to be a lot more permits for cattle producers and there’s going to be a lot more costs and lot more delays in activities—routine activities that everybody has to get done.”

McDonald urges cattlemen to submit comments to the EPA by going to NCBA’s web site,

McDonald’s comments came in an interview with Brownfield at the start of the Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.

AUDIO: Ashley McDonald (5:28 MP3)

Mandatory COOL upheld in appeals court

The U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia upheld mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) for meat and meat products.  The 9-2 decision supports an earlier appellate court ruling which determined that labeling was needed to prevent deception.  Judge Stephen Williams cited consumer interest and health concerns, saying the government’s interest in country-of-origin labeling for food make the interest substantial.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson called the decision a victory in the battle to uphold the enforcement of the COOL regulation.  He says that American consumers want to know where their meat comes from, and livestock producers, proud of what they produce, are happy to let consumers know where it comes from.

The meat industry and some livestock groups have attempted to block COOL, saying compliance with the rule is costly and it provides no health benefits to consumers.