Corn Futures Fall on Bleak Ethanol Prospects
Corn for May delivery fell 0.8% to $3.46 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Friday, amid projections that the closure of ethanol plants will cut into domestic corn demand.
Ethanol Into The Ether: As ethanol demand evaporates, biofuel makers are likely to need a lot less corn this year. "Right now we could be looking at 350 million to 400 million bushels of lost demand for 2019-2020 corn," said Craig Turner of Daniels Trading. "The big concern is those bushels go right back into the ending stocks on the balance sheet." Prior to coronavirus hitting the U.S. market, the USDA projected ending stocks of 2019/20 corn at 1.89 billion bushels, a decline of roughly 400,000 bushels from the previous year.
Planted Corn Acres Could Exceed USDA Projections -- Market Talk
13:54 ET - Estimates from independent groups like Indigo Ag and Allendale project that planted acres will exceed the estimates provided by the USDA in its WASDE reports of the past few months. These estimates place corn acreage up to 95 million acres, up 1 million acres from the USDA's projection of 94 million acres. With ethanol consumption of corn expected to drop, traders are bearish about this development, with corn futures on the CBOT down 0.9% Friday. Meanwhile, planted soybean acres are expected to be less than the 85 million estimated by the USDA. (firstname.lastname@example.org; @kirkmaltais)
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State Department Further Eases Curbs on Seasonal Worker Visas During Coronavirus
WASHINGTON--The State Department is further easing requirements on seasonal foreign worker visas following agriculture industry warnings that a bottleneck created by coronavirus-related curbs could prompt a farm-labor shortage at the peak of spring harvest.
Under the latest rules, which the State Department issued Thursday, most applicants will no longer need an in-person interview to get visas for farm or other seasonal work, such as landscaping, fishing or working at resorts. That requirement had slowed the number of workers entering the U.S. The State Department paused most visa processing in embassies and consulates abroad due to the pandemic.
Wheat Lifted on Reports of Russian Quotas -- Market Talk
09:40 ET - Wheat futures led grains higher overnight on the CBOT, due to reports that the Russian government is considering putting quotas on its wheat exports. In a statement Friday, Russia's Agriculture Ministry said it had proposed setting up a quota for Russian grain exports at 7 million metric tons for April-June, in order to protect domestic supply amidst the spread of coronavirus. "Wheat got a boost overnight from the news that Russia was considering export quotas," says Doug Bergman of RCM Alternatives. (email@example.com; @kirkmaltais)
Brazil Soybean Harvest, Transport Returning to Normal -- Market Talk
15:43 ET - Brazilian soybean harvesting and transporting activities are returning to normal this week after farmers and truckers in certain areas faced problems last week when some cities imposed measures intended to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to Gustavo Chavaglia, an official of soybean and corn producers group Aprosoja Brasil. Some towns last week restricted truck traffic through their territory, but after agricultural groups complained, Brazilian authorities have included farm work on the list of essential activities that can continue throughout the country, Chavaglia says. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Hogs Finish Limit Down, Cattle Comes Close -- Market Talk
15:25 ET - Lean hogs on the CME finished the day limit down, dropping down 4.5 cents per pound -- or 6.6% -- to 64.25 cents per pound Friday. Meanwhile, live cattle futures dropped 4.4% to 89.425 cents per pound, coming close to its own extended 4.5 cent limit. For hogs, the main reason for today's drop was news of a bigger hog supply in the US than previously expected, according to the USDA's hogs and pigs report released Thursday. "One number that stood out to analysts was the size of the US pig litter increased 3% in the past year, and now averages 11 pigs per litter," says Karl Setzer of AgriVisor. (email@example.com; @kirkmaltais)