AG NETWORK LINKS
News IFN is following for Ag Day Manitoba
March 12, 2013By Ken Morgan of Interstate Farm Network
Japan Mission Builds on Trade Relationships
March 7, 2013
Just back from a trade mission to Japan lead by Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Canola Council of Canada (CCC) President Patti Miller underlined the importance of missions led by the Agriculture Minister in maintaining and building relations in the industry’s major markets.
The mission included high level meetings with key grain industry participants in Japan and Japanese government officials, including the Ministers of Agriculture, Health, Foreign Affairs and Trade. Miller participated in a meeting with the Japanese Oilseed Processors Association.
“We welcome Minister Ritz’s leadership in opening markets and supporting a predictable trade environment in Japan,” says Miller. “Japan is a long-standing, high value market for canola seed, importing two million tonnes annually, and we greatly value our relationship with them.”
Canada and Japan have engaged in bi-lateral free trade discussions. The mission provided an opportunity for Miller to build on the canola sector's relationship with seed importers, and to discuss new opportunities afforded by bi-lateral, comprehensive economic and trade discussions.
“With 85 percent of everything we produce going to export markets, a healthy global trade environment is critical to our industry,” says Miller.
The CCC is a full value chain organization representing growers, seed developers, crushers and exporters. The industry generates $15.4 billion in economic activity in Canada annually.
Media may contact:
Patti Miller, President
The canola story we had originally posted here had som inaccuracies. They were pointed out by the companies involved and I will be in contact with them to make sure we impart correct information about Act of God clauses for Nexera Canola that are being offered by some ADM processing facilities.
(thanks to the folks at ADM and Dow Agro Sciences for bringing this to my attention)
Poor durum premiums in North Dakota may dissuade acres
Erica Olson in Fargo 701 239 7205
701 220 7545
Mar 7, 2013 9:23 AM - 0 comments
By: Phil Franz-Warkentin
Durum bids in North Dakota have lost their premium over other spring wheat in recent weeks, which will likely lower seeding intentions for the crop, according to an official with the North Dakota Wheat Commission.
Durum prices are fairly close to spring wheat values right now, and the lack of a significant premium will likely dissuade some growers from seeding the pasta-making crop, said Erica Olson, marketing specialist with the North Dakota Wheat Commission.
Current durum bids in the US$7.75 per bushel area were in line with spring wheat pricing, "which doesn't help durum acreage at all," she said.
"It will be tough for durum to gain acreage this year, because of the price issue... and because some producers are turning away from durum due to the risk (of growing it)," said Olson, noting durum acreage in the state would likely be steady or lower compared to 2012.
Durum stocks in the U.S. and worldwide are "fairly good," according to Olson. She said U.S. exports were picking up, but there was no real big demand to boost prices.
While durum may be lacking a premium over spring wheat, wheat acres in general are facing competition from soybeans and corn in North Dakota, said Olson.
Wheat area was going down in the eastern part of the state, but holding steady in the west, she said. Snow cover was described as good, but if producers are worried about another dry year, spring wheat and durum would see renewed interest.
North Dakota farmers seeded 1.35 million acres of durum in 2012 and 5.35 million acres of other spring wheat, according to USDA data.
-- Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.
India to prioritize wheat exports to grapple with grain mountain
Cumbersome tender process has held back exports so far
Mar 7, 2013 5:53 AM - 0 comments
By: Ratnajyoti Dutta
India will do everything it can to push record volumes of wheat onto the global market to cut massive stocks, a senior farm ministry official said on Wednesday, in a move that could hit shipments of other grains using rail and congested ports.
The world's No. 2 wheat producer is expecting another bumper harvest to start rolling in within weeks but lacks the warehouses needed to weatherproof a grain mountain big enough to feed its 500 million poor for a year.
It could decide to allow another five million tonnes of wheat exports as early as Thursday, government sources have said -- more than doubling the sales already approved to about 9.5 million tonnes.
The surge of supply on top of better harvests expected from Australia, the United States and the Black Sea, would put further pressure on global prices. Benchmark Chicago wheat prices fell to an eight-month low last week on a better outlook for the U.S. crop.
"Wheat exports are a priority issue as the new harvest is about to begin later in the month," said the farm ministry official, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Shifting such huge volumes in India -- a third of what top exporter the U.S. ships in a year -- would put a big strain on limited rail and port capacity and hit private exports.
The wheat harvest starts arriving later this month and picks up during April. By June, total grains stocks will hit a record 100 million tonnes, with only half of that finding room in silos safe from the drenching June to September monsoon rains.
"India has a golden opportunity, at least for the next few months," said Sanjeev Garg, chief executive at CommCorp International, a New Delhi-based trading company.
But India's railways are short of freight cars and the government itself says it needs an 80 per cent jump in port capacity by 2017 to cope with a trade boom in Asia's third-largest economy.
The country's increasingly wealthy 1.2 billion population is clamouring for all kinds of goods not easily available at home, from luxury cars and clothes to better quality cooking oils and lentils. At the same time, the government wants to boost exports to address a record current account deficit.
While prioritizing wheat could help shipments of that commodity, other trade could suffer in the country, which became the world's biggest rice exporter in 2012.
"Since India's capacity is limited whichever way they slice it is going to have a knock on effect on something else," said a Singapore-based grains trader.
Last year, ships waiting to load Indian corn faced delays of up to two months on the east coast last year as infrastructure bottlenecks and monsoon rains delayed shipments.
"It was horrible at the end of last year when you had ships waiting for two months on the east coast, particularly corn ships," said one Singapore-based trader with a global trading company. "There was virtual gridlock."
Raising the number of ports allowed to handle grains could help in the short-term, industry experts said.
"Many small and big ports have been constructed in the last few years but they haven't been notified. So the (Food Corporation of India) can't export grains from these ports," said Anil Devli, chief executive of the Indian National Shipowners Association.
Ports on both sides of the country are currently handling wheat sales, which are going both to the Middle East and to clients in Asia such as Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand who are buying it for animal feed.
Oilmeal exports could face a short-term squeeze while in the case of rice, the main casualty will be basmati, as it is mostly exported from the west coast where wheat volumes are higher.
Some relief could from a slump in iron ore exports in the last year after a mining ban in key producing states, although transportation would be more expensive.
And red tape may yet stymie the government's export aims.
"It is nearly impossible for the government agencies to export 9.5 million tonnes wheat. Their tendering process is very time consuming. India never exported this much," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global grains trading firm who declined to be named.
The country has only managed to ship three million tonnes almost a year after giving a green light for 4.5 million tonnes.
-- Ratnajyoti Dutta is a Reuters correspondent covering commodities from New Delhi. Additional reporting for Reuters by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Mayank Bhardwaj in New Delhi and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.
Railways argue for repeal of Bill C-52 at Commons hearing
They are calling for Bill C-52, the Fair Rail Freight Service Act approved in principle by the House of Commons and now at committee, to be shelved or at least amended to reduce some of the shipper powers outlined in bill.
In a presentation to the Commons transport committee Tuesday, representatives of Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway and the short-line operator Cando Contracting Ltd. said the legislation is unnecessary.
“Our advice to this committee (is) that you recommend to the House of Commons that the bill not proceed,” Railway Association of Canada president Michael Bourque told MPs.
But if the legislation does move forward, he said the rail industry wants amendments that would reduce proposed shipper powers, including a proposal that an arbitrator have the right to assess punishment for failure to meet level-of-service contract obligations.
Earlier, shippers went before the committee to argue for amendments that would make the legislation tougher on the carriers, insisting that there is a market imbalance between carriers and shippers that need a legislative rebalancing.
Bourque said the railways have improved service, and a legislative hammer is not needed.
“Railways are doing exactly what you would hope, increasing their productivity, keeping freight rates low, enabling the competitiveness of Canadian manufacturers and producers and indeed the whole supply chain, winning investor confidence, making money and reinvesting in the network.”
Transport committee members, expected to end their public hearings soon, were easy on the railways in their questioning, not challenging railway arguments that they generally are not monopolies, that most shippers have alternatives and that rail service is far more reliable than shipper critics suggest,
Railway executives said their service to commodity shippers has improved since the government-ordered service review began, capital investment is extensive and there is no need for government intervention.
“I want to reiterate that throughout the service review we have maintained there is no need for additional regulation between railways and customers,” CPR vice-president Michael Murphy told MPs.
“We’re firmly of the view that continued improvement in our supply chain will be achieved through offsetting commercial undertakings, in particular better traffic forecasting.”
A legislative backstop is not required.
Variety selection key tool in disease control
In the future, he plans to take a closer look at disease resistance.
“I have a serious interest in leaf disease,” Olstad, who farms near Millet, Alta., said after spending a day in Lacombe listening to cereal disease specialists.
“Every year it seems like it is getting worse. I suffered a fair loss two years ago because I didn’t spray enough. I am for sure going to spray every acre of cereals this year and the wheat maybe twice.”
Spraying for leaf disease wasn’t the only recommendation discussed at the cereal disease workshop.
Kelly Turkington, a research scientists with Agriculture Canada, said breaking the canola-wheat cycle and adding more variety will allow Mother Nature to help control disease.
He said research at Agriculture Canada has discovered that the shift from conventional tillage to conservation tillage has not affected the amount of scald or net blotch in field.
Crop rotation is the factor most consistently associated with increased levels of scald and net blotch, he added, particularly growing barley on barley and a wheat-canola-wheat rotation.
“Ideally you want to see at least two years of a non-host crop,” he said.
Whether a variety is susceptible or resistant is the next most common factor in cereal disease.
“Variety and crop rotation were the key factors,” he told the workshop.
Turkington said the most common rotation of canola-cereal is not long enough to allow for the decomposition of infected barley and wheat residue
“What we’re looking at is a lack of diversity and time,” he said.
“It’s one of our major risk factors as far as disease. Really, what’s happening is you’re allowing for build up for infested crop reissues and pathogen structures. With a tight rotation of continuous cereal or cereal every second year, it’s not long enough for Mother Nature to take care of that resting body for you and decompose it.”
Turkington said switching varieties can cut disease in half, comparable to spraying the crop, although a better option may be to grow another crop to break the disease cycle.
In Europe, researchers found that growing a mixture of barley, oats and triticale in the same field as feed can also reduce disease by 50 percent.
Fungicides have the biggest impact on disease, but Turkington said the choice of fungicide is the least important decision. If they’re registered for disease, they will all work reasonably well.
He said timing is the more important factor, with the most significant disease reduction achieved when the fungicide is applied at the flag leaf stage.
There are exceptions, especially in years of high levels of infection, he added.
Not all varieties have the same response to fungicide applications. A susceptible variety will respond better to a fungicide while a resistant variety will have little benefit.
Turkington said there are no silver bullets to controlling diseases in crops. An integrated approach to crop, insect or weed control works best.
Olstad said he plans to add more crops to his canola-wheat rotation now that the price of grain has increased.
“I want to do more barley, some oats and peas, perhaps fababeans,” he said.
“I will also select the different varieties of barleys for resistance. The ones I picked were the worst.”
Bryan Adam of Stony Plain, Alta., said he attended the workshop to learn more about disease.
“It’s obvious more management is needed and scouting is getting more important all the time,” he said.
“Everybody knows our rotations have been short. Rotation is the biggest effort we need to put in now, and rotating varieties as well.”
Adam said he also plans to focus more on disease resistance when choosing varieties.
“I didn’t realize there was quite as much difference between varieties as there is. I know I’m going to pay more attention in the future.”
Milk consumption down, yogurt up
“Yogurt is the one product that is having this absolutely massive year over year increase in sales, particularly from about 1997,” said food market researcher Ellen Goddard of the University of Alberta.
Working with graduate student Shannon Allen, a national online survey assessed consumer attitudes toward milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.
Goddard said there has been a precipitous decline in fluid milk sales, especially for the two percent variety. The increased popularity of one percent milk did not make up for the overall downward trend. In 1980, each Canadian consumed 98 litres of milk but by 2011 that amount fell to 71 litres.
People who said they were light users of milk often countered by saying said they ate more yogurt, she told the western dairy seminar in Red Deer March 6.
People also think of yogurt as a completely different product because it comes in many flavours and forms like drinks, frozen products or as a dessert.
When asked why they did not drink milk, many said they did not like it, thought it was too expensive and worried about fat content, shelf life and the possibility of added hormones or presence of antibiotics.