Agriculture news from week 32

USA and Canada

The ever-changing forecast leads to an about-face in the markets

Talk about an about face. The last week of July had the grains pushing higher with a couple contracts (August soybeans and December corn) scoring weekly gains not seen in almost 20 years, only to see most of those gains removed in August. Volatility is alive and well in the commodities.

The week of Aug. 8 started on the rocks as all of the grains were under heavy selling pressure. The extremely hot temps that were expected to dominate the Plains and Corn Belt were not realized and that had traders removing weather premium. On top of that, ships started to depart the Black Sea region as exports out of Ukraine have resumed. Turkey reported the first boat of grain leaving Ukraine went smoothly and instead of the goal of moving only one ship out of the port per day, they expect to be able to move three ships per day.

But in true fashion, the market pulled too much premium out of the market too fast and, also as usual, weather forecasts changed.

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Corn, Soybeans
Yield Check: USDA Forecasts 175.4 bu. Corn and 51.9 bu. Soybeans

For 2022, corn production will be down and soybean production up from 2021. 

Corn production is down 5% from last year, forecast at 14.4 billion bushels, according to the Aug. 12 reports from USDA. Average corn yield is forecast at 175.4 bu. per acre, down 1.6 bu. from last year. NASS forecasts record-high yields in California, Iowa, Washington, and Wisconsin. 

Acres planted to corn, at 89.8 million, are down 4% from 2021. As of July 31, 61% of this year’s corn crop was reported in good or excellent condition, 1 percentage point below the same time last year.

For soybeans, production is forecast to increase 2% from 2021, forecast at 4.53 billion bushels. Area for soybean harvest is forecast at 87.2 million acres with planted area for the nation estimated at 88 million acres, up 1% from last year. 

Soybean yields are expected to average a record-high 51.9 bu. per acre, up 0.5 bu. from 2021. If realized, the forecasted yields in Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, and Virginia will be record highs.

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2022 U.S. Cropland Values Hit Record $5,050 Per Acre, Up 14% from 2021

For 2022, USDA reports the value of the nation’s cropland is $5,050. That’s up $630, or 14%, from 2021. This year’s figure marks back-to-back record highs in cropland values. See the full USDA report.

Since 2014 the value of U.S. cropland had hovered around $4,000 per acre, that was up until 2021 when things changed.  

The U.S. pasture value averages $1,650 per acre, an increase of $170 per acre (11.5%) from 2021.
Overall farm real estate value, a measurement of the value of all land and buildings on farms, averaged $3,800 per acre for 2022. That is up $420 per acre or 12% from 2021. 

The stronger land prices of late 2021 continued higher through the first half of 2022, reports Randy Dickhut, senior vice president for Farmers National Company (FNC), Omaha. Nebraska.

After a calm period in January in which the land market remained steady, sales prices took another jump as a result of the outbreak of war in Ukraine and ongoing inflation fears, he notes.

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FILE PHOTO: Spring wheat is harvested on a farm near Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada August 20, 2020.  REUTERS/Shannon VanRaes/File Photo
Over 70% of Farmers Say Forced Fertilizer Reductions Would Cause Food Shortages, Study Finds

A recent poll has found that 72 percent of farmers say the Liberal government’s plan to reduce fertilizer emissions by 30 percent will cause their crop yields and food production to plunge if the target is implemented.

The farmers were polled in a study conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) and released in June 2022.

Taylor Brown, a CFIB policy analyst who contributed to the study, surveyed what Canadian farmers think of the emissions reduction plan—which also calls for large-scale fertilizer cutbacks—introduced by the Trudeau government in 2020.

Working alongside CFIB Vice-President of National Affairs Jasmin Guénette, Brown found that almost three-quarters of the 361 farmers surveyed, who were also CFIB members, said that a mandated reduction of nitrogen emissions would reduce both crop yields and overall food production.

 Read more…

Crops Argentina
Alberta farming conditions significantly better after dry 2021 season

New Zealand

Record drop in ‘dirty dairy’ offending over past 12 months

Cases of “dirty dairying” offending have hit a record low in the past year, with well below the average number of infringements and convictions for effluent entering the nation’s waterways.

In the 2021/2022 year, there were three convictions for cases where dairy effluent entered rivers, streams, wetlands, or on to land where it could have entered waterways or groundwater.

Stuff has been collecting figures on the number of convictions since 2009/10. These figures represent the most serious offending.

Fines of $182,000 were imposed in the three cases in the latest year.

While the number of incidents was much improved, the year did include one of the worst cases of its kind – so bad, the Waikato Regional Council labelled it an “environmental disaster”.

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NZ avocado industry warned to brace for lower prices as key Aussie market swamped

New Zealand’s avocado industry needs to brace itself for a period of lower prices and volatility ahead as its key Australian market is swamped with the fashionable fruit, and returns from its emerging Asian market lag behind.

Increased Australian production resulted in an “avalanche” of avocados last year which saw retail prices for the green creamy fruit fall to a record low A$1 and prices this year are 47% below the five-year average, according to Rabobank associate analyst Pia Piggott.

“It’s simple supply and demand – as the supply goes up, the price goes down,” she says.

Strong demand for the heavily promoted “superfood” which features in dishes such as smashed avocado, has prompted Australian farmers to plant more than 1000 hectares a year and after six years those trees are now coming to maturity, which is expected to see Australia’s production expand by more than 40% over the next four years.

Read More here…

‘Stood on and sworn at’: Police investigate alleged assault on migrant workers

Police are investigating alleged assaults by an orchard owner against migrant workers in Central Otago, including an incident where a worker says he was made to lie on the floor, stood on, and sworn at.

Another Pacific Island worker alleged he had his ear pulled by the same man, while others say he regularly called the workers names including calling one man “lazy arse”.

There was an “atmosphere of fear” at the farm they were assigned to, the workers told investigators from the Human Rights Commission, but they didn’t know how to report their problems, and so they stayed quiet for six months, until they moved north earlier this year.

“We used to make a joke that when the cherries turn red, [boss] was also turning red,” an affidavit from one of the workers said. “In Bislama (the language of Vanuatu) the name we gave him was ‘red man’ because of his anger and aggression.”

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If society wants lower impacts from livestock on private land, will they achieve it by paying farmers for their loss, or regulate it because they have power to impose costs on landowners?

In a recent video (watchers need to scroll down article to get to the video) was an arguably persuasive coverage of the issues facing Canterbury dairy farming and returning to a clean water environment. One of those involved was a ECan councillor who is also a dairy farmer, and he raised the issue of what the government, or society, would do for farmers to basically help them to exit farming or at least greatly reduce cow numbers to create the change argued for to improve water quality.

To date very little has come out of central government to address this area. Europe has been also dealing with similar issues and with a bigger chequebook than the New Zealand government has, so it seemed worthwhile to examine what they are proposing and also what farmers reactions are.

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WA 2022 crop back on track for 20Mt: GIWA

BEAUTIFULLY timed rainfall in the second half of July and early this month, have improved the chances of another very good harvest in Western Australia with a total close to 20 million tonnes (Mt) still possible, according to the Grain Industry Association of WA’s (GIWA) crop report released today.

The previously dry areas of the state, particularly in the northern grainbelt, are on track for at least average grain yields and the areas that were less impacted from the dry July, are looking at above average grain yields.

The southern areas have gone from very good to a bit wet, which was the only dampener on the change in weather patterns over the last three weeks.

All grain crops are further advanced in growth stage than normal due to the very warm winter.

This has both an upside and a downside.

Read more here

Australia’s June canola exports drop 11pc from May

AUSTRALIA exported 480,955 tonnes of canola in June, down 11 per cent from 542,396t shipped in May, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Japan on 120,478t was the biggest customer, taking 25pc of total June shipments, with The Netherlands on 82,967t and the United Kingdom on 66,000t, just ahead of Belgium on 65,044t.

In its August 2 Australian Export Vessel Lineups commentary, Lachstock Consulting said exports of canola are expected to drop to just under 400,000t in July, and around 270,000t in August.

Australia’s canola exports for the first nine months of its marketing year now stand at 4.64 million tonnes (Mt), with Germany on 1,151,745t and Belgium on 920,879t the biggest markets by far.

On the production front, the Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) on Friday lifted its forecast for Western Australian new-crop canola production to 3.16 million tonnes (Mt), up from 2.84Mt seen in its July crop report, largely due to planted area being greater than initially thought.

Read mpore here…

Australian Lentils
Australian chickpea, lentil exports drop in June

AUSTRALIA exported 25,892 tonnes of chickpeas and 74,856t of lentils, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Both figures are down on the May figure, chickpeas by 16 per cent and lentils by 18pc.

The biggest market for June-shipped chickpeas was Pakistan on 10,349t followed by Nepal on 3323t and Bangladesh on 2420t.

On lentils, the United Arab Emirates on 27,500t followed by Egypt on 21,639t and Pakistan on 9571t were the biggest markets.

Increased volume to Pakistan, more than double the May volume on chickpeas, and a nine-fold increase on lentils, indicates improving terms of trade for container business.

As expected by the trade now that Canada is once again a volume exporter following last year’s drought-reduced offering, Australian lentil exports to India plummeted in June.

Read more here

Australian wheat
WASDE adds 3Mt to Australian wheat estimate

THE United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lifted its forecast for Australia’s new-crop wheat production by 3 million tonnes (Mt) to 33Mt in its latest monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report.

Released on Friday, the report said the lift for Australia has come because of increasingly favourable weather conditions, which indicate higher yield prospects.

The August WASDE has also seen a 1Mt lift in Australia’s and Canada’s forecast 2022-23 wheat exports, now at 25Mt and 26Mt respectively.

USDA has also added 3Mt to its 2022-23 estimate for wheat production in China, now at 138Mt, while Russia is forecast to produce a record 88Mt of wheat in 2022-23.

The Russian figure is up 6.5Mt from the July estimate, on both higher harvested area and yield.

Read more here…

South America

Mercosur consolidates as the leading global exporter of beef

Mercosur is again consolidating as the leading global exporter of beef with shipments of almost 1,8 million tons during the first half of the year, according to primary information from different sources. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay in that order were the main suppliers.

Brazil in the first seven months of this year exported 1,1 million tons of fresh, chilled and frozen beef, according to Canal Rural, and since during July sales are estimated at 160/180.000 tons, the total volume for the first half of the year would be just below the million tons.

Giovani Ferreira from Canal Rural forecasts that at this rate, in the twelve months of 2022, Brazil sales volume should reach 1.8 million tons, establishing a new record, above the 1,7 million tons of 2020.

As to Uruguay, beef exports from January to the first week of July reached 370,352 tons, up 16,5% over the same period a year ago, 318,012 tons. Revenue on the other hand was US$ 1,8 billion almost 50% higher than in 2021. China remains the main market for Uruguay prime beef.

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Grain crop ripens under a blue sky and the Summer sunshine of a Western New York field.
Rains Quench Argentina’s Struggling Wheat Crop

Argentina’s 2022/2023 wheat crop got a much needed boost last week when rains eased drought conditions afflicting key agricultural areas, the Buenos Aires Exchange said on Thursday.

Reuters reports that persistently dry conditions in recent months have pushed the exchange to cut its estimate for the country’s planted wheat area five times, down to 6.1 million hectares (15 million acres) from the 6.6 million hectares initially expected in May.

Last week’s rain over Argentina’s central and southern agricultural areas slowed the deterioration of wheat plants that have already begun growing, while promoting the growth of plants “that presented delays due to the lack of humidity and low temperatures,” the exchange said in its weekly report.

The exchange, however, warned that the panorama for farmers is still a concerning one. Agricultural areas in northern Argentina continue to suffer from a lack of water and “if this scenario is not reversed, they could be compromised when critical stages (of development) begin,” the exchange said.

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Brazilian farmers bet on sustainable cotton

The road through Cristalina, Brazil, is in the middle of the tropics, but the fields on either side look like they are covered in snow — little white puffs of cotton stretching to the horizon.

The alabaster plants interspersed with the corn and soybean fields outside the central-western town are part of a silent revolution in Brazil: Facing negative attention over the agribusiness industry’s environmental impact, farmers are increasingly turning to cotton and adopting sustainable techniques to produce it.

After increasing exports 15-fold in the past two decades, Brazil is now the world’s second-biggest cotton supplier — after the US — and the biggest producer of sustainable cotton.

No less than 84 percent of the cotton grown in the South American agricultural giant is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative, an international nonprofit group to promote sustainable cotton farming.

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Food Updates

plant based meat
Is plant-based less susceptible to pathogens?

The USDA reports that many consumers believe plant-based meat alternatives don’t carry the same pathogen risks as meat.

The growth behind plant-based meat alternatives is partly due to misguided food safety concerns.

That’s according to a post from the USDA, which states that while meat dominates the grill, the plant-based category partially owes its success due to the belief that it’s less susceptible to pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella.

“Many consumers believe that plant-based foods are minimally processed, more healthful, and nutritionally superior to otherwise similar animal-based counterparts,” said John Luchansky, Lead Scientist at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research unit in Wyndmoor, PA.

Read more here…

food security
Food insecurity on the rise according to new FSA survey results

The latest Food and You 2 survey results have been released by the Food Standards Agency, and the results indicate a tough landscape for consumers.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has released the latest wave of its Food and You 2 survey series, revealing that food insecurity is on the rise among UK consumers.

The latest wave of the FSA’s survey was conducted between 18 October 2021 and 10 January 2022, and gathered the responses from just under 6,000 adults across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Perhaps the most concerning finding is that the number of respondents classified as food secure fell by three percent and the number classified as food insecure grew by the same amount, compared to Wave 3 of the survey (conducted between April and June 2021).

Read more here

Is oil the secret to stopping Salmonella?

Researchers dried Salmonella onto stainless steel surfaces then tested various oil-based cleaning techniques to see if the method worked, and the results make for good reading.

Outbreaks of foodborne Salmonella can affect most food products, but recent outbreaks have been linked to peanut butter and chocolate. Although Salmonella cannot grow in either of these low-water foods, the cells survive, becoming more resistant to heat treatment, which has contributed to recent outbreaks. But new research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology suggests that oil formulations with food-grade organic acids can kill dried Salmonella on stainless steel surfaces.

“Cleaning and sanitation of manufacturing environments are critical for a safe food supply,” said lead author Lynne McLandsborough, a professor of food science at University of Massachusetts Amherst. However, water-based cleaning is rarely used in processing peanut butter, because it promotes microbial growth.

Read more here

ice cream
America’s ice cream secrets revealed by new survey

What is America’s favourite flavour of ice cream? Do consumers prefer waffle cones or sugar cones? Which is the busiest month for ice cream producers? The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has the answers.

America loves ice cream and ice cream loves America. The sweet treat is immensely popular in the US, with the American market worth nearly $10 billion.

But there are some important questions that linger inside your mind as an ice cream lover. What is America’s favourite flavour? Do consumers prefer ice cream in a cone or out of a bowl? And which topping sauce comes out on top?

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has partnered once again with Research America, Inc. to survey America’s love for all things ice cream and frozen desserts and deliver some answers.

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sweat tea
Boston Beer Co and Beam Suntory launch Sweet Tea Whiskey

Do sweet tea and whiskey mix? Boston Beer Co. and Beam-Suntory will be hoping they do after the two beverage manufacturers launched a new product that does just that.

Popular hard iced tea brand Twisted Tea has joined forces with one of the world’s biggest and renowned whiskey producers to launch Twisted Tea Whiskey, which launch across five markets, including Maryland, Rhode Island, Ohio, Missouri, and Texas.

Boston Beer Co., which owns the Twisted Tea brand, has partnered with Beam Suntory to develop the product. In its extensive portfolio, Beam Suntory boasts household whiskey brands such as Jim Beam, Laphroaig, and Makers Mark.

Twisted Tea Whiskey is made with real brewed tea and inspired by the brand’s flagship product, Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea Original flavour. The manufacturers say the new Sweet Tea Whiskey packs “the classic sweet tea taste balanced with real, well-rounded whiskey for a deliciously smooth blend of oak and bright lemon.”