Agriculture news from week 26

USA and Canada

Farmers look for premium for remaining 2021 corn, soybeans

CHICAGO — U.S. grain dealers will have to boost prices to pry farmers’ corn and soybeans from their storage bins as growers are already flush with cash and can afford to wait and see if the market rallies further.

“I assume we are going to have to bid up throughout the summer,” a grain dealer in Ohio said. “Farmers are keeping their supplies pretty close to their chest.”

Prices for corn and soybeans ratcheted up near record highs this spring as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted global shipping flows and tightened up supplies available on the export market.

Farmers demanding higher bids from grain dealers could contribute to rising prices at the grocery store as costs are passed down the supply chain at a time shoppers already face the highest inflation rate in decades.

David Weaver, a 52-year-old farmer in Rippey, Iowa, still has about 10% of his soybean crop left to sell and plans to wait until mid-July before booking deals.

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Markets keep a watchful eye on weather and reports

Pressure on commodity markets was also due to concerns of the U.S. economy falling into recession. This concern is adding to the fund selling spree as traders take money off the table in both the commodities and in the financial world and head for the sidelines.

The fourth week of June was one that most would like to forget.

The grains started the week under heavy selling pressure and continued to see heavy pressure for the rest of the week. Selling was tied to improving weather conditions and position squaring ahead of USDA’s reports at the end of the month.

The grains opened the short week under extreme pressure but calmed slightly by mid-week.

Wheat and corn were higher off of news that Russia attacked two separate grain terminals in Ukraine. Seems to be a strange way of showing you want to help export grain out of the country.

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Soy Canada still optimistic about acreage expansion in Western Canada

Soy Canada remains optimistic about its lofty goals for soybean acres in Western Canada.

In 2017, the national organization set a target for 10 million acres across the country by 2027, with six million in Western Canada.

In 2021, Prairie acres — mostly in Manitoba — were at 1.4 million, down from 1.8 million in 2016.

Brian Innes, executive director of Soy Canada, says the crop has not been without challenges, with drought conditions plaguing the western provinces over the last few years. However, as highlighted at Soy Canada’s AGM this week — there are reasons to remain optimistic.

“When we look to the future, what we see now is real continued optimism for the genetics that are available for western Canada, yields in Manitoba in [the last] 10 years have been higher than they have been in the last few, but we’re confident that with more moisture and a wetter cycle, that will create more opportunities for more growth, especially in places where — like the black soil zone — there’s more heat, and the genetics are now better adapted to thrive in those areas,” says Innes.

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Global and European grain and wheat crisis after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia world's largest exporters of grain
Farmers planted more soybeans and wheat, less corn this year

The U.S. Agriculture Department pegged soybean acreage this year at 88.3 million, a 1% increase over the 87.1 million acres farmers planted in 2021. All wheat acreage in the United States also increased by 1% over last year to 47 million acres, USDA said. Corn acreage totaled 89.9 million, 4% less than the 93.4 million acres farmers planted in 2021.

Farmers in the United States decreased their corn acreage this spring, but planted slightly more soybeans and wheat, the U.S. Agriculture Department estimated in its June 30 acreage report.

Corn acreage totaled 89.9 million, 4% less than the 93.4 million acres farmers planted in 2021, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said. North Dakota acreage dropped by 1.1 million, a 27% decline, to 3 million, South Dakota acreage declined by 250,000 to 5,9 million and Minnesota acreage fell by 100,000 acres to 8.3 million.

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A photo taken on January 12, 2021 shows a field of wheat being harvested on a farm near Inverleigh, some 100kms west of Melbourne. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
The World is Now Watching U.S. Winter Wheat Harvest, Yields in Oklahoma and Texas Reveal Some Surprises

New Zealand

Kiwi research shows red meat has nutritional advantage over plant-based alternatives

Red meat is a better source of protein than a processed plant-based alternative, research from two New Zealand universities has found.

Findings from a human clinical trial found that meat delivered more essential protein building blocks compared to a plant-based alternative. The research was a collaboration between researchers at AgResearch, the University of Auckland, Massey University and the Riddet Institute.

The four-stage research explored the health and wellbeing benefits of eating pasture-raised beef and lamb as part of a balanced diet, compared to grain-finished beef or a plant-based alternative.

AgResearch said in statement 30 people aged 20 to 34 years, were fed breakfast on four different days and their blood,

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Better sheep genetics cheaper than trees to get rid of greenhouse gases

It would cost less to reduce methane emissions by breeding better sheep, than by offsetting greenhouse gases through carbon forestry, new research shows.

The scientists at AgResearch’s Invermay Agriculture Centre who recently made this calculation had already been using portable chambers that could measure the methane sheep belched out for a number of years. This research showed that some sheep emitted less methane than others.

For a recent study by the centre’s researcher Suzanne Rowe rams that emitted lower levels of methane were bred to low methane-emitting ewes. The study compared the emissions from low emitting sheep to flocks bred from rams and ewes that emitted high levels of methane. The study showed low-methane sheep emitted 10% to 12% less methane than the high-methane animals.

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wool australia
WoolWorks commits $2.4 million to support Wool Impact

Wool Impact will work with brands and companies to get strong wool products onto markets quickly and ultimately lift returns to farmers.

It was established following close to four years of discussions between industry stakeholders and the Government to find the most effective ways of addressing the long-time lack of performance in the wool sector.

Maja Sliwinski, investment director at Tanarra Capital Partners, a WoolWorks shareholder, says the investment demonstrates the company’s confidence in the sector and the future of wool.

“WoolWorks is committed to the long-term future and betterment of the New Zealand wool industry. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we like what we see in Wool Impact Ltd’s three-year work programme. We are confident that Wool Impact Ltd will help steer the wool industry back onto a more sustainable and profitable path.”

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Million-dollar export deal for Taranaki medicinal cannabis company

Famous for its dairy exports, Taranaki could soon be known for exporting medicinal cannabis after a local firm landed a “lucrative” deal worth more than $1.6m.

Greenfern Industries has signed a two-year agreement to supply “hundreds of kilograms” of cannabis from its farm in Normanby, South Taranaki.

The company that will be exporting the crop has decided to remain anonymous, Greenfern managing director Dan Casey said.

The partner had carved out a niche where they connect cultivators with sellers.

“It just means those sorts of avenues where we need to connect with overseas buyers and manage all the transit infrastructure and all the import-export lines, we don’t have to manage that.

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Downgrades cut Qld, NSW mungbean value, yields

THE MUNGBEAN industry is working to find markets for large volumes of downgraded crops, after months of widespread flooding severely impacted plants in the Queensland and New South Wales growing regions.

It is estimated that about 20 per cent of the crop is yet to be harvested with growers hindered by the prolonged wet conditions.

Australian Mungbean Association (AMA) president Dale Reeves said the industry was looking at harvesting 140-150,000 hectares of mungbeans, but with downgrades and yield losses, he is unsure of how much will translate into processable product.

He said at this stage the AMA is hoping to have 90-100,000 tonnes of exportable mungbeans by the end of the harvest.

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InterGrain adds new oaten hay varieties

INTERGRAIN has added two new conventional oaten hay varieties, Wallaby and Kultarr, to its cereal portfolio.

Bred by the National Oat Breeding Program, formerly led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), with support from AgriFutures Export Fodder Program and Australian Exporters Company (AEXCO), these new oaten hay varieties are being commercialised by InterGrain.

InterGrain oat breeder Allan Rattey said Wallaby and Kultarr are complementary varieties providing oaten hay growers alternative options to existing varieties Mulgara, Brusher and Wintaroo.

He said both varieties have been made available in limited quantities to growers this season.

Read mpore here…

ag tech
New agtech to ensure more uniform pulse classification

SOUTH Australian husband and wife team Andrew Hannon and Anna Falkiner are working towards creating a more uniform pulse classification system, with their artificial intelligence-based (AI) technology, Cropify, currently in development.

Based on machine learning and AI techniques, the system will enable growers, grain handlers and marketers to classify a particular pulse sample in a way that is objective and repeatable.

After years in the grains industry, Mr Hannon saw a need to develop equipment that could create a more objective grain classification system.

He encountered similar technology already being used in the horticulture industry and, in 2019, decided to expand the system for grains.

“He could see, like most people who work in the sector will know, that there is a big issue there because it is all very subjective and done by the eye,” Ms Falkiner said.

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Growers urged to test redlegged earth mite for resistance

RESEARCH organisation Cesar Australia is urging grain growers and farm advisors to come forward if they find a chemical control failure or suspect insecticide resistance in redlegged earth mites (RLEM).

A common and widespread pest species, RLEM can be found in a broad range of crops including canola, wheat, barley, oats and most pulses as well as pasture legumes and grasses.

While RLEM is less of a concern for cereal crops and some pulses, damage can occur under certain conditions and weeds can also act as alternative hosts.

If not adequately controlled, RLEM feeding causes white discoloration of leaves and distortion in severe infestations.

Affected seedlings can die at emergence with high mite populations.

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South America

Argentina grains truck traffic to ports rises after end of protest

Grains truck traffic to Argentina’s major ports rose strongly on Friday after a haulage protest over diesel costs and shortages was resolved, a boost to exports from the world’s top shipper of processed soy and the No. 2 of corn.

Truck numbers entering ports rose back above 3,000 on Friday, according to data from Agroentregas, which monitors trucking activity. That was up from a low of 650 on Tuesday.

Trucker unions in the South American country reached a deal on Thursday to lift the week-long protest, including around the major inland ports of Rosario, which had threatened to stymie grains exports by blocking truck access.

Rosario’s ports are the point of departure for 80% of Argentina’s agricultural exports, most of which arrives in trucks.

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Summer landscape of wheat field. Ripe cereals field. Golden spikelets of ripe wheat close up
Argentina farmers worry about crop amid global wheat shortage

Drought is only the beginning of worries for growers like Juan Francisco Arregui in Argentina’s breadbasket farmlands, who the world is relying on more than usual these days to fill a supply crunch of the grain needed to make bread and flour, reported Reuters.

“This season for wheat is complicated,” Arregui told Reuters, as he stood in a dusty field that he said had not received rainfall for two months. He said the crop needs rain to arrive soon but weather forecasts were not promising.

In addition to prolonged dry weather, spiking fertiliser costs and political uncertainty over export rules are prompting him and other farmers to devote more land to soybeans and cut back on land devoted to wheat in Argentina, the world’s No. 6 exporter of the grain.

While there was enough moisture to plant the seeds, “there is not much left,” he said. “It means that the wheat crop is not sure by any means. We can get it started, but hey then we are waiting for rain.”

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Brazil’s fertilizer imports jump as farmers prepare to plant new crop

SAO PAULO, July 1 (Reuters) – Brazilian fertilizer imports in June jumped 18.6% and totaled 4.15 million tonnes, according to government data released on Friday, quashing fears of delivery disruptions amid trade sanctions on key suppliers.

The data suggests that Brazil, which imports about 85% of its fertilizer needs, should have enough of these inputs to start planting summer crops like soybeans and first corn starting in September.

After sanctions against major producers Belarus and Russia, there was speculation that Brazilian farmers could face a shortage of nutrients to nourish key crops, leading to reduced applications and slower grain area expansions.

Strong trade flows underscore Brazilian diplomatic efforts to secure deliveries after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Canada approves exports from Brazilian pork plants

A week after authorising the first Brazilian plants to export pork, the health authorities of Canada announced the authorisation of two other plants to export the product, as reported by the Ministry of Agriculture to the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA).

With the new qualifications, Brazil now has five producing units authorized to export pork to the Canadian market. The sanitary opening of the market was consolidated in March of this year, after years of negotiations between the authorities of the two countries, as a direct result of the actions of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Brazilian Embassy and the Brazilian agricultural association in Ottawa.

As well as the first three qualifications, the two new qualified plants are located in the state of Santa Catarina. They are units of Pamplona Alimentos, from Presidente Getúlio (SC), and Cooperativa Central Aurora, in Joaçaba (SC).

“With the new qualifications, we hope that Canada will gain relevance in the final result of Brazilian pork exports, increasing the capillarity of this year’s shipments with good value-added products, such as belly and rib, in complementarity to local production,” said ABPA president Ricardo Santin. 

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Food Updates

Consumers will pay more for healthier products in restaurants, says research

As the restaurant sector continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, catering to younger health-conscious consumers could help the industry return to its former glory, after new research has claimed that that more than a quarter of customers would be happy to pay premium prices for healthier products.

Conducted by the University of South Australia, Flinders University and the University of Otago, the study showed that 27 per cent of consumers would pay nearly double the price for ‘healthy’ drinks that contain low/no sugar, natural/no additives, or vitamins and minerals.

In a study of more than 1000 consumers from Australia and New Zealand, researchers also found that younger consumers (aged 18-24 years) were more likely than older diners to be interested in healthy drinks. And that those who ate out more often, were more willing to pay a larger premium for the privilege.

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Enthusiasts, Easy Health, and Healthy Feel Goods: Which are you?

Mainstream consumers are increasingly seeking out protein for sports nutrition, but their needs and purchase motivations vary, according to a major global study by Arla Foods Ingredients.

A total of 43 percent of the 12,000 consumers surveyed said they looked for added protein when choosing foods and beverages for exercise, rising to 52 percent for those aged 18-29. This interest in protein is rising, with 31 percent stating they had increased their use in the past two years compared with only seven percent who had decreased usage.

The in-depth research, which looked at how people buy into the sports nutrition market and perceive healthy living, enabled Arla Foods Ingredients to identify what it has called three distinct consumer types, each with different attitudes to exercise, nutrition, and protein.

The first group, called The Enthusiasts, exercise strenuously at least three times per week and frequently choose food and beverages designed to support athletic performance. 

Read more here

Should plastic gum base be replaced with a plant-based alternative?

You may be surprised to hear that you could be chewing on polymers – the same kind of material used to make certain types of plastic.1,2 How, you might wonder? Through your chewing gum.

If you flip a packet of chewing gum over, however, you’re unlikely to find ‘plastic’ among the listed ingredients. Instead, its comprised synthetic ingredients are labelled as ‘gum base’.

According to the International Chewing Gum Association (ICGA), gum base is what gives gum that chewiness. It’s made from a mixture of food-grade polymers, waxes and softeners that create the well-known texture.

However, the Founder behind clean label chewing-gum brand Milliways believes the term ‘gum base’ isn’t transparent enough. As such, the 29-year-old is calling for clearer labelling on products still using plastic polymer- and resin-based ingredients.

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Neolithic farmers provide important lesson for today’s sector

Pests are nothing new – from the biblical plagues of locusts to the rats that spread the Black Plague around the world. But how early did farmers fight back? And did they succeed?

Researchers from Basel have discovered that as early as the Neolithic period, pests posed a threat to agricultural yields, as shown by the remains of mice and insects found in prehistoric wells. However, there are also indications that people knew how to defend against these pests – for example, by switching to less vulnerable kinds of grain.

Around 8,000 years ago, people began creating more permanent settlements in Europe and practicing agriculture. While many research projects have focused on the agricultural practices of that time, they have generally left aside the effect of pests. Particularly for the western Mediterranean region of Europe, there has been almost no record of the occurrence of harmful insects and rodents until now.

A study by the research group led by Professor Ferran Antolín at the University of Basel has now shown that people in southern Europe had to deal with pests such as wood mice and grain weevils even back in the middle Neolithic period – and also developed effective strategies to counteract them.

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Taking control of our brain through diet

When was the last time your racing thoughts kept you from sleeping, or you skipped your exercise routine? While we take pride in being the masters of our own free will, in practice we often fail to achieve even the simple things in life that are important for our wellbeing. Willpower alone is rarely sufficient to flip our brains between active and passive states. Indeed, about one in four people suffer from insomnia for this reason. The brain signals responsible for this operate in our subconscious.

Wake up cells

In the past two decades, scientists have learned a lot about how these subconscious signals work. In humans, as well as other animals, the critical wake-up signal was found to come from orexin/hypocretin neurons, a small cluster of cells in the deepest area of the brain, the hypothalamus.

The discovery of orexin cells in 1998 transformed our understanding of brain state control, as loss of these cells was found to cause the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a fragmentation of the brain’s state, characterised by abnormally frequent transitions between brain states, and an inability to sustain neither sleep nor wakefulness. Conversely, orexin cell stimulation produces wakefulness and increases physical activity.