President Trump says his administration will "make it up" if farmers and ranchers are hurt by Chinese trade retaliation. Two agricultural leaders in Congress were skeptical of possible politically driven bail-outs on Tuesday, with Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts saying, "We don't want another subsidy program. We need to sell our product."
The Transportation Department issued a 90-day waiver for truckers hauling agricultural loads from an 11-hour limit per day behind the wheel. Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer said the waiver will allow more time for the government to decide how to get livestock and other ag commodities to market.
Top U.S. poultry processors are planning to expand production this year, reports Bloomberg. As prices for feed grains have plummeted, worrying farmers, processors are taking advantage of the lower costs.
Commodity prices are still in a trough but U.S. farm income is on the rise for the first time since 2013 because producers are sending more crops and livestock to market than initially expected, said the USDA. It forecast net cash farm income, a measure of liquidity, of $100.4 billion this year, far stronger than the February forecast of $93.5 billion, but only three-fourths of the record set in 2013.
After setting back-to-back records for soybean plantings, U.S. farmers indicated in a survey that they will plant more wheat and corn while cutting back on soybeans in 2018, said Farm Futures. Soybeans nearly matched corn, the most widely grown crop in the nation, in acreage this year with farmers believing the oilseed would be more profitable than corn.
On a voice vote during a brief meeting in the Capitol, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the nominations of Rostin Behnam, Brian Quintenz and Dawn Stump for commissioners of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the watchdog agency for the derivatives market. If confirmed by the Senate, the nominations would restore the CFTC to nearly its full complement of five commissioners.
The deepening drought in the northern Plains will result in the smallest harvest of spring wheat since 2002 — 423 million bushels, said USDA in its first forecast of the crop. Futures prices for hard red spring wheat, a high-quality variety and 90 percent of all U.S. spring wheat, soared in the past month as dry weather threatened a squeeze on supplies.
In the three-way race for leadership in the world wheat market, Russia will be No. 1 in the current marketing year, says USDA's Grain: World Markets and Trade report. It's the first time Russia would take the top spot; the United States was No. 1 in 2016/17 and the EU led in 2015/16.
Two months behind schedule, the EPA has proposed the targets for renewable fuel use in 2018 — corn-based ethanol in its usual place as the primary biofuel, at 15 billion gallons, and so-called advanced biofuels at 4.24 billion gallons. The agency said it will begin the technical analysis that could lead to a permanently lower mandate for advanced biofuels, which are being produced in far smaller quantities than envisioned in a 2007 law.
Two years ago, world cotton production was the lowest in 13 years, due to smaller plantings and plunging yields. This year, the world will produce 14 percent more cotton than in 2017 for a harvest of 24.6 million tons that will drive down the season-average cotton price by 13 cents a pound, says the International Cotton Advisory Committee.