USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report, due out this afternoon, will tell traders and policymakers whether farmers are starting to catch up on planting during a year when U.S. crops will be especially important to global food supplies.
Last week’s report showed that only 22% of this year’s expected corn crop had been planted by May 8, the five-year average at that point is 50%.
Spring wheat plantings also are well behind. About 27% had been planted as of May 8. “It’s got to dry out. They’ve got to get that wheat in,” said StoneX analyst Arlan Suderman.
The U.S. spring wheat crop will be especially critical this year because of the impact of the war in Ukraine on global supplies and a drought that will likely slash winter wheat production by an estimated 8%.
Some 43% of the winter wheat crop last week was rated in poor to very poor condition, compared to 18% at the same point last year.
Ukraine asks US for ag lab, testing equipment
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he’s going to do what he can to obtain lab and testing equipment for Ukraine to facilitate its agricultural exports.
USDA, he said, can likely donate some used equipment, but Vilsack told Agri-Pulse he also will be asking universities and industry in the U.S. to help out.
Ukraine isn’t able to export ag commodities through its Black Sea ports, so the country is scrambling to try to ship grain, vegetable oil and even beef and pork using unconventional routes.
Ukraine Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky recently appealed to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to help it set up a laboratory with equipment in the Romania port city of Izmail on the Danube River to expedite ag exports.
"Today, the lack of such a laboratory in Izmail slows down the process of exporting agricultural products,” Solsky said. “Since such products are first sent to Odesa, where they have to wait their turn to be certified, and only then sent to Izmail to be sent abroad. All this leads to unnecessary and financial costs for logistics and time.”
By the way: Vilsack over the weekend accused Russia of using hunger as a "weapon of war" in its conflict with Ukraine.
US dairy backs rejection of Canada’s new quota plan
Agri-Pulse reported Saturday that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is slamming Canada’s latest proposal to fix its quota system for U.S. dairy. U.S. industry is standing behind him.
“Canada cannot be permitted to blatantly disregard their trade obligations after having been found non-compliant by a neutral and expert panel, only to then ignore their obligations without consequence,” Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, tells Agri-Pulse. "We are pleased to see USDA responding forcefully and hope that USTR does the same. Our government must hold Canada accountable."
Vilsack, in an interview Saturday, said he told Canada’s Marie-Claude Bibeau twice in recent days that the second and latest proposal “is an unacceptable response under” the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement.
Krysta Harden, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, said in a statement, “Unfortunately, Canada simply refuses to institute real reform, and such actions must have consequences.”
EPA releases more info on WOTUS regional roundtables
The Environmental Protection Agency has made more details available on the regional roundtables being held virtually to gather input on a future definition of “waters of the U.S.” under the Clean Water Act.
The agency has now posted the full lineups for the roundtables, which began May 9 and will run through June 24.
Trout Unlimited representatives will be featured in three of the upcoming events, as will speakers from breweries. Three of the remaining roundtables are organized by state farm bureaus in Arizona, California and North Carolina, and the Wyoming Farm Bureau will take part in another. The Kansas Livestock Association also is an organizer.
The American Farm Bureau Federation was critical of the first roundtable, saying it lacked “diversity of experience.”
Grain milling company, exec charged in connection with worker deaths
A Wisconsin corn milling company, its vice president, and five former employees have been charged with crimes related to worker safety, fraud, air pollution and obstruction of justice, the Department of Justice announced.
Two former company supervisors previously pleaded guilty to related charges in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.
The indictment alleges that Didion Milling Inc. “willfully violated two federal safety standards … by failing to develop and implement a written program to effectively prevent and remove combustible grain dust accumulations, and by failing to install explosion venting or explosion suppression on a dust filter collector — thereby causing the deaths of five employees due to a combustible dust explosion at DMI’s corn mill on May 31, 2017,” the Justice Department said.
Allegations include falsification of records, including the cleaning logbook.
Duckworth seeks inquiry into infant formula industry
Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to “conduct a wide-ranging study of the infant formula industry” in the midst of the current shortage, caused partially by recalls due to a potentially deadly bacterial outbreak in an Abbott Laboratories manufacturing facility.
“Shedding light on the business practices and market conditions that led to sustained infant formula shortages will enable Congress and regulators to develop effective legislative and regulatory responses to strengthen the resiliency of the infant formula supply chain and prevent future infant formula shortages,” Duckworth said in a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan.
Expect more infant formula inquiries on Thursday when FDA Commissioner Robert Califf testifies before the House Ag Appropriations Subcommittee. Check out that and other upcoming events in this week’s Washington Week Ahead.
He said it: The Russian military is “destroying the infrastructure that would enable Ukrainian agricultural products to be processed into food and that has been interpreted as their effort to essentially wage war through hunger.” – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking to Agri-Pulse during G-7 summit in Germany.
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