August 19

Last week’s Crop Production report shocked the corn market. The USDA said that U.S. farmers planted 90.0M acres of corn this year, down from last month’s 91.7M forecast. But traders had expected big, flood-driven losses in the 3M-6M acre range.

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Sheena Levi
August 12

In the August Dairy Products Report, the USDA said total cheese output was up 0.6% (from a year ago) in June and that YTD production is up 0.8%. However, cheddar output is down 2.8% YTD. Since block cheddar is what’s used to settle contracts at the CME, cheese “market” prices are likely to remain well supported through year’s end.

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Sheena Levi
August 5

Last week, Rabobank released a report saying that China’s ASF-ravaged hog herd is down 40% from a year ago. Rabobank’s numbers are supported by a Reuters survey of suppliers to Chinese farms. Producers of vaccines, feed additives and genetics also estimated losses at 40-50%, based on falling sales for their products and local knowledge of the extent of the disease.

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Sheena Levi
July 29

In July’s Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook, the USDA said total red meat and poultry output in the first half (H1) of 2019 was 1.3% above that of a year ago. Beef output was up just 0.2% in H1. More heifers in the slaughter mix (up 7.2% in H1) helped pull down slaughter weights and indicates that the cattle expansion cycle is ending.

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Sheena Levi
July 22

In Friday’s Cattle on Feed Report, the USDA said new placements onto feedlots in June were down 2.3% from a year ago, but that the July 1st feedlot inventory, at 11.49M head, was still 1.8% above last year. May/June have traditionally been seasonally large placements months, as feeders move off wheat pasture in the Southern Plains.

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Sheena Levi
July 15

Record rainfall this year has wreaked havoc with crop planting and with USDA forecasting. The June 28 acreage report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) pegged 2019 corn output at 13.9B bushels vs. the trade’s expectations of 13.3B.

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Janet Cohen
July 8

Dairy prices are bullish at a time of year when the seasonal spring milk “flush” is usually tempering prices. May milk output was down 0.4% from a year ago – and tighter milk supplies are having an adverse effect on dairy products production. Butter output in May was 4.2% below a year ago.

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Janet Cohen
July 1

In Friday’s quarterly Hogs & Pigs report, the USDA confirmed large U.S. pork supplies. Productivity jumped in the March-May quarter, with the number of pigs per litter up 3.5% from a year ago – roughly triple the pre-report estimates.

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Sheena Levi
June 24

In Friday’s Cattle on Feed Report, the USDA said new placements onto feedlots in May were down 2.8% from a year ago, but that the June 1st feedlot inventory, at 11.74M head, was still 1.6% above last year. May has traditionally been a month for seasonally large placements as feeders begin moving off wheat pasture in the Southern Plains.

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Sheena Levi
June 17

Record rainfall has delayed planting almost beyond hope this year. As of 6/10, only 83% of the corn crop was planted, compared to 99% a year ago and a 5-year average of 99%. Five-to-nine million acres of corn could go unplanted this year. That would represent a 6-to-10% drop in corn acres vs. planting intentions.

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Sheena Levi
June 10

While rain-delayed Midwest crops and China’s hog situation have dominated the commodity news, butter prices have been quietly creeping higher. U.S. milk supplies are tightening due to lower cow herd numbers and cream for butter processing is reported to be short in the Midwest.

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Sheena Levi
June 3

Record rainfall has delayed planting almost beyond hope this year. Last week’s crop progress report was more of the same. The corn crop is 58% planted vs. 90% last year and a 5-yr average of 90%. Soybeans are 29% planted vs. 74% a year ago. With the calendar turning to June, farmers are out of time.

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Sheena Levi
May 27

In Friday’s Cattle on Feed Report, the USDA said new placements onto feedlots in April were up 8.7% from a year ago. The May 1st feedlot inventory at 11.8M head was 2.2% above a year ago (highest May number since the data series began in 1996) - partly driven by an increase in the number of heifers (breeding stock) being sent to slaughter.

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Sheena Levi
May 20

On Friday, the U.S. finally reached a deal with Canada and Mexico to lift U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, while also confirming Canada and Mexico would remove tariffs on a wide range of U.S. goods, including pork and cheese.

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Sheena Levi
May 13

In Friday’s WASDE, the USDA released its first projections for next year. The outlook for 2019/20 U.S. wheat is for larger supplies, lower exports, and larger stocks. Wheat prices for 2019/20 are projected at $4.70/bu - down 9.6% from $5.20 for 2018/19.

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Sheena Levi
May 6

Beef middle meats and ground beef are in the midst of their annual seasonal price run-up ahead of the big 3 grilling holidays – Memorial Day (5/27), Father’s Day (6/16) and July 4th. So far this year, #180 choice boneless strips at $8.17/lb are up 54.7% after starting the year a $5.28 – and are currently 4.5% above a year ago.

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Sheena Levi
April 29

In April’s Livestock, Dairy & Poultry Outlook, the USDA (again) dropped its first-half 2019 broiler output forecast to 21.16B pounds, now up just 0.4% from a year ago. Looking at Q1 data, the total number of (broiler) head slaughtered was up 0.3% from a year ago, while YOY slaughter weights were marginally negative.

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Sheena Levi
April 22

In Thursday’s Cattle on Feed Report, the USDA said new placements onto feedlots in March were up 4.8% from a year ago. The April 1st feedlot inventory at 11.96M head was 2.0% above a year ago and the highest April inventory since the data series began in 1996.

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Sheena Levi
April 15

China’s African Swine Fever just keeps going from bad to worse. On Thursday, Rabobank said that up to 200 million Chinese pigs could be culled or die as result of the disease. The drop would drag down China’s 2019 pork output by 30% from a year ago – a decline of 16 million metric tons.

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Sheena Levi
April 8

It’s that time of year when refiners begin transitioning to more expensive, summer-grade fuel. This year’s seasonal price increases will get an extra boost as a result of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, rising crude oil prices and Midwest flooding that has impeded the production and distribution of ethanol.

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Sheena Levi