Local Grains

Last Updated Apr 22, 2019 8:34 AM*
Corn Old Crop New Crop
Pro Coop, Terril - 1 -.20 -.50
Lakota Ethanol - GPRE, Superior -.06 -.43
CFE, Ocheyedan - Old 1 -.04 -.43
Stateline Co-op, Halfa -.10 -.43
Poet Bio Refining, Emmetsburg -.05 -.33
Max Yield, Mallard -.24 -.50
Max Yield, Fostoria -.20 -.50
Max Yield, Kerber -.05 -.40
Ag Partners, Fonda -.22 -.47
Ag Partners, Hartley -.08 -.46

Soybeans Old Crop New Crop
Pro Coop, Terril - 1 -.85 -.90
Meadowland Co-op, Lamberton,MN -.80 -.90
CHS, Fairmont -.45 -.67
CFE, Ocheyedan - Old 1 -.85 -.96
First Co-op, Laurens -.85 -.91
Max Yield, Fostoria -.87 -.95
Max Yield, Mallard -.89 -.94
Ag Partners, Emmetsburg -.80 -.95
Ag Partners, Hartley -.85 -.91
WFS Co-op, Dolliver -.76 -.90

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*This information was current as of this date. We believe it to be accurate but assume no responsibility.

Commodity Headlines

China to Consider U.S. Request to Shift Tariffs on Farm Goods

April 15, 2019 9:14 AM

Source:  Bloomberg

China is considering a U.S. request to shift some tariffs on key agricultural goods to other products so the Trump administration can sell any eventual trade deal as a win for farmers ahead of the 2020 election, people familiar with the situation said.

The step would involve China moving retaliatory duties it imposed starting last July on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods to non-agricultural imports, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were private. The shift is because the U.S. doesn’t intend to lift its own duties on $50 billion of Chinese imports even if an agreement to resolve the trade war between the two nations is reached, one the people said.

Another person said China would consider shifting the tariffs to make it easier to meet a proposal to buy an additional $30 billion a year more of U.S. agricultural goods on top of pre-trade war levels as part of a final deal. Last July, China had levied punitive tariffs on American goods including soy, corn, wheat, cotton, rice, beef, pork and poultry in response to U.S. duties.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Trade Representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. China’s Commerce Ministry didn’t respond to faxed questions.

Political Costs

The bartering shows that both sides are taking political considerations into account as negotiations drag on to end the trade war, which has rattled financial markets for months. An outcome that completely removes punitive tariffs looks increasingly unlikely as Trump looks to hone his campaign message and continues to threaten the European Union, India and other countries with trade actions.

The people didn’t specify which other goods would receive higher tariffs instead of agricultural products. Other top imports included aircraft engines and parts, semiconductors, passenger cars and chemicals.

China also may take action on non-tariff barriers that have affected agricultural goods. The commerce ministry in Beijing on Monday said it would review whether to continue anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures on U.S. distillers’ dried grains, a by-product of corn ethanol production that’s used in animal feed.

Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the U.S. and China were “hopefully getting very close to the final round” and discussing whether to hold more in-person trade talks. He also said the U.S. is open to facing “repercussions” if it doesn’t live up to its commitments in a potential trade deal, a sign that the two sides are edging closer to an accord.

Under the proposed agreement, China would commit by 2025 to buy more U.S. commodities, including soybeans and energy products, and allow 100 percent foreign ownership for U.S. companies operating in China as a binding pledge that can trigger retaliation from the U.S. if left unfulfilled, people familiar with the situation said earlier this month.

Spring Acreage in Focus

March 19, 2019 10:29 AM

Source:  ProAG.com

Uncertainty on trade issues and the subsequent price movements associated with speculation on the topic added a degree of difficulty to acreage decisions this year.  The March 29 Prospective Plantings report will provide the initial indication of potential acreage allotments for spring crops and sets the tone for production potential as we move into planting season.

Considerations of planted acreage this spring begins with analyzing the amount of acreage available for planting.  During the 2016 – 2018 period, total acreage for principal crops tracked by the USDA came in at 319, 318.3, and 319.6 million acres respectively.  When one considers the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and prevent plant acres as well, acreage totaled 346.3, 344.3, and 345.0 million acres.  Over the same period, corn, soybean, and wheat acreage combined came in at 227.6, 226.4, and 226.1 million acres respectively.  Current USDA projections for the three crops indicates 224 million acres planted.  The lower acreage estimate implies either a drop in principal crop acreage or an increase in acreage for other crops in 2019.

A potential reduction in planted acres will not materialize through an increase in CRP acres this year.  Through January, CRP acreage enrollment is reported at 22.4 million acres, down from the 23.5 million acres last year.  The government shutdown and uncertainty in CRP acreage enrollment deadlines led to enrollments coming in below the 24 million acres set forth as the statutory limit.  Lower CRP acreage enrollment in 2019 may be negligible when considering acreage planted in major spring crops.  While the impact of lower CRP acreage looks to be minimal, spring weather conditions appear set to have a significant influence on the acreage of spring-planted crops.

The weather forecast for parts of the Midwest indicates an above average probability of wet conditions this spring across large parts of the Corn Belt which may slow planting and impact acreage allotments.  The prospect of a wet spring looks to exacerbate issues in many areas. In particular, the western Corn Belt may see problems with more moisture on top of a significant snowpack.  Prevented planted acres totaled only 1.9 million acres in 2018, down from the previous three years. In those three years, prevented plantings were reported at 6.7, 3.4, and 2.6 million acres, respectively.  The National Weather Service forecasts a well above normal potential for flooding in the upper Mississippi River Basin and its tributaries.  Flooding and wet conditions in these areas may lead to an increase in prevented plantings and would presumably reduce the total acreage planted.  A return to average prevented plantings would diminish possible acreage availability.

Competition for corn and soybean acres this spring focuses on spring wheat and cotton acreage in some major production regions.  The winter wheat seedings report released by the USDA in February came in four percent lower than last year.  At 31.3 million acres, winter wheat planted sits 1.24 million acres lower than a year ago.  The cold and wet conditions in the southern Plains that delayed fieldwork and planting last fall continued through the winter and led to slow growth in late planted wheat.  Some abandonment of late-planted wheat in the region remains a possibility.  USDA’s projection in February placed wheat acreage at 47 million acres.  Based on winter wheat seedings, the implication is spring wheat and durum acreage look to be at 15.7 million acres.  Spring wheat, corn, soybeans, and other crops will compete for acreage in the northern Plain states.  At 13.2 million acres, planted spring wheat in 2018 rose from the 11 million acres planted in 2017.  Expectations of spring wheat acreage coming in at or above last year’s 13.2 million acres are in place.  Durum wheat acres look to fall from the 2.5 million acres planted last year.  Flooding and snow cover in many areas may impact spring wheat acreage and holds the potential for a shift into soybean acres if planting is delayed significantly.

Cotton looks to compete with soybean acreage in the Mid-South region.  Currently, cotton acreage is projected by the USDA to increase by 1.1 percent to 14.25 million acres in 2019.  The potential for higher cotton acreage exists as indicated by the National Cotton Council survey released in February pegging acreage at 14.45 million acres.  The survey showed that most of the growth is in the Mid-South with the potential for reduced acreage in the Southeast.  As a result, soybeans are expected to lose a portion of the acreage allotment in the mid-South with the prospect of increased corn acreage in the Southeast.

Corn acreage in a range between 91.4 – 92.0 million acres provides the baseline for many projections this year.  The possibility of lower corn acreage remains a dominant consideration due to fieldwork issues, high fertilizer costs, and poor weather conditions. Soybean acreage expectations indicate much lower acreage levels than last year’s 89.2 million acres with projections in a range between 84.3 – 85.6 million acres.  A substantial deviation in planted acreage from current expectations appears necessary to generate a substantial price reaction in corn or soybeans.

Ag tech firm plans 10K acres of soybean planting with driverless tractors

March 18, 2019 11:04 AM

Source:  AgWeek.com

FARGO, N.D.—The chief executive of an Iowa company has announced a "stretch goal" to plant 10,000 acres of American soybeans in 2019. The wrinkle is his custom farming company will use "supervised" autonomous tractors.

The company is called Sabanto Inc. of Ames, Iowa. Craig Rupp, the company's chief executive officer who has a track record in high-tech ag business, spoke Wednesday, March 6, to more than 100 attendees at a 1 Million Cups event in Fargo. The event is hosted by Fargo tech company Emerging Prairie, led by Greg Tehven.

Rupp, 53, says he'll be operating his farming service from Texas to Canada. "We have the acres lined up and we're going to go out this spring and see how much trouble we can get into," he said.

Client acreages will range from about 20 to 400 acres. Sabanto provides no agronomy or input services. Some acres will be in the Aberdeen, S.D., and Mankato, Minn., areas. He also has acres in Nebraska and is working toward getting some in North Dakota. Initially it will only be planting and fall tillage.

Who is this guy?

Sabanto is Rupp's fifth start-up firm .

He grew up on a farm at Cherokee, Iowa, in the northwest part of the state. He has an electrical engineering degree from Iowa State University in Ames. He went on for a master's in signal processing at Illinois Institute of Technology in 1993.

He started his career in wireless communication technology. From 2002 to 2004, he worked at John Deere, where he designed and developed Deere's Starfire receiver and Greenstar display system. From 2005 to 2014 he was "chief measurement architect" for National Instruments in Austin, Texas, which designs and deploys measurement algorithms for AM, FM, Bluetooth and other signals.

From 2012 to December 2014, he co-founded 640 Labs, a Chicago company where he created an open-data platform for getting information from a tractor or combine to an iPad computer and then to the "cloud."

Monsanto Co. acquired 640 Labs in 2014 and put it under The Climate Corporation umbrella, where Rupp remained as director of engineering/senior fellow through July 2018. The 640 Drive device was later branded as FieldView Drive— what he calls the "lowest-cost ubiquitous data collection device in agriculture."

Two ag techies

In 2017, Rupp was a judge at the 2017 "agBOT Seeding Challenge," an Indiana-based international competition to create autonomous robots capable of performing agricultural tasks.

There, he met Kyler Laird, the owner of a 1,700-acre corn and soybean farm at Rensselaer, Ind., between Chicago and Indianapolis. Laird also is a computer scientist and an innovator with autonomous farming on his own farm.

In October 2018, Rupp and Laird, created Sabanto. ("Sabanto" is a Japanese word for "servant.")

Laird got his computer science degree and a master's degree from Purdue University's School of Engineering. In 2001, Laird helped found the University of California Merced, and in 2007 established Laird Scape LLC, (also listed as Lairdscape) a commercial farm.

In 2016, Laird he automated a Massey Ferguson 2745, dubbed "Tractobot01," which included components for steering, front-wheel turning and location-monitoring, and raising and lowering implements. Laird went on to create"Tractorbot02"—an MT765 Challenger tractor, for pulling a grain cart.

In 2017 and 2018, Laird used the "Tractorbot03"—a John Deere 6330—pulling a retro-fitted John Deere 7300 planter—to plant 535 acres.

Servant future

Rupp told event-goers that farm tractors are like expensive sports cars—both costing a fortune and both underutilized. Rupp has concluded that "farm equipment is the most expensive, widespread, underutilized capital there ever was." Rupp figures that if it can be used to autonomously custom-plant acres from south to north, the utilization could increase 10 times—from 3 percent of a year to 30 percent.

He envisions that a custom autonomous farming system could be provided on-demand, something like FedEx, which owns trucks and airplanes but is neither a trucking company or airline.

"We'll show up at the drop of a hat and perform autonomous field operations," he said. "At this point, I wish I could tell you exactly how it's going to turn out—a local group doing this, or nationwide," he says. "I have to figure that out."

For this year's work, Rupp will drive a truck to deliver the equipment and will handle logistics. He says he's thinking about handling the transportation issues and contending with weather and delays. All autonomous activity is in-field, he said. He assured the audience he has liability insurance.

Rupp says the clients can consider Sabanto a "Plan A," but that they also should have a Plan B and C. He declines to say how much he's charging, but acknowledges it varies based on strategic customers.

Rupp is working on the safety system and business aspects, including promotion. Laird is working on the planting system itself and a third employee is a software programmer.

"I will not stand for high capital expenditures in my business," Rupp says. "We're a service company. I will not sell autonomous equipment."

Curious audience

Rupp and Laird plan to stay in the service business because they think autonomous ag technology will be "very difficult to productize, deploy and scale." It's an inconvenient truth for the major manufacturers, but the computer hardware components required for autonomy "is a commodity today," he said.

Audience questions were curious and mixed. Ace Brandt of Brandt Holdings of Fargo operates companies with John Deere stores in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. He asked Rupp why John Deere isn't "in tune" with what he's doing, even though they're also working in autonomous equipment equipment.

"Deere is a big company," Rupp carefully responded. "It's a big ship and to move that into another direction takes a lot of energy. It's easier to build an Amazon than to change a Sears. I don't think anyone's heading down the path that we're on right now, but we'll see."

Landon Dick, 22, a North Dakota State University agricultural economics student from Devils Lake, N.D., said he thinks autonomous farming seem inevitable. "I would think so," he said.

Rupp acknowledged he's learned about a Fargo-area effort to create an autonomous demonstration. He encourages it and applauds it and has talked with organizers about possibly becoming involved with it. Tehven, who is also involved with the local autonomous farm project, said it is still developing, but he's talked with Rupp about it.

4th Largest U.S. Beef Packer, National Beef, Acquires Iowa Premium

March 13, 2019 9:47 AM

Source:  agweb.com

National Beef Packing Company, LLC, is purchasing Iowa Premium, LLC, adding an additional 1,100 head per day of packing capacity to the beef packer.

The acquisition of Iowa Premium, also known as Iowa Premium Beef, was announced on March 11 and is still pending a customary waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. The deal is expected to close during the second quarter of 2019 and would give National Beef 100% ownership of Iowa Premium.

Located in Tama, Iowa, the beef packing plant employs more 800 than and processes approximately 1,100 head of Angus fed cattle per day. Cattle are purchased primarily in Iowa and surrounding states in the Midwest. Iowa Premium specializes in USDA Choice and Prime grade beef. The company markets branded beef products under the Iowa Premium Angus and Est. 8 Angus labels, selling beef both domestically and globally.

“I am excited to expand our beef operations with a processing facility in Iowa and we look forward to strengthening Iowa Premium’s relationships with the family farmers who produce the highest quality Black Angus cattle in the U.S.”, says Tim Klein, President and CEO, National Beef, in making the announcement. “Iowa Premium fits perfectly with our value-based marketing strategy as we continue to provide our customers with the very best beef products and programs.”

The move by National Beef – the fourth largest beef packer in the U.S. – adds another packing plant to the company’s portfolio that also includes two other packing plants in Dodge City and Liberal, Kan. The Kansas City, Mo., based company also has further processing facilities located in Kansas City, Kansas; Hummels Wharf, Pennsylvania; Moultrie, Georgia; North Baltimore, Ohio and St. Joseph, Missouri.

Last year, National Beef had a majority of the business acquired by Brazilian meat packer Marfrig Global Foods. The $969 million purchase gave Marfrig a 51% share in National Beef and boosted the global slaughter capacity to 8.3 million head for Marfrig. National Beef formerly owned a processing plant in Brawley, Calif. that was closed in 2014 and later sold the next year

National Beef currently employs approximately 8,400 employees. During the 2018 fiscal year, National Beef generated $7.5 billion in sales.