Thursday, April 17, 2014

More moves by Russia against Ukraine could have major impact on U.S. farmers, other exporters

Farmers are watching the clash between Russia and Ukraine because the latter is the world's third largest corn exporter and sixth largest wheat exporter, and Russia is fifth in wheat and a big purchaser of corn and poultry.

"From rising global commodity prices to potential supply disruptions, there’s a lot at stake in the conflict for American farmers and producers," Kevin Hall reports for McClatchy Newspapers. "Before the conflict, Ukrainian corn farmers had access to loans and were on a pace to eventually rival the U.S. corn belt as well as big producers such as Brazil. The loans now come with tougher conditions."

Thomas Sleight, the president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council, told Hall, “This is a region where we have been facing stiff competition from Ukraine. Longer term, everyone is waiting to see what effect credit availability will have on Ukrainian farmers’ willingness to plant and continue expanding their acreage of wheat and corn.”

One concern is that Russian and Ukrainian currencies have sunk against the dollar, which makes U.S. exports more expensive there. "The most immediate impact is being felt in the futures market," Hall writes. Wheat futures for July delivery jumped sharply this week at the Chicago Board of Trade on concerns about the broadening Russia-Ukraine conflict. U.S. farmers get a windfall from the rising futures price. But disruption of the global supply is unwelcome and soaring prices mess up the broader planting cycle, since farmers rotate crops. Prices would go much higher if the conflict escalates into warfare, which would likely thwart grains from reaching export markets." (Read more)

Russia’s threat to Ukraine has already already cause wheat prices to soar "18.5 cents to $6.7875/bushel at their Monday close, while May KCBT wheat futures leapt 22.5 cents to $7.42, while May MWE futures jumped 15.5 cents to $7.1725," reports AG Professional.  "May corn closed 4.5 cents to $5.03/bushel Monday afternoon, while December added 4.25 to $5.035. May soybeans gained 13.25 cents to $14.7625/bushel in late Monday trading, while May soyoil edged up 0.16 cents to 42.26 cents/pound, and May soymeal rallied $6.2 to 479.1/ton." (Read more)

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