Pro Farmer's First Thing Today: COVID-19 Aid, Crop Progress and More

Here are audio highlights from around the ag industry, courtesy of Pro Farmer. ( Pro Farmer )

Good Morning farm country. Davis Michaelsen here with your morning update for Tuesday May 19. From Pro Farmer’s First Thing Today, these are some of the stories we are watching this morning:

Corn and soybean futures are both trading mid- to high-range with gains around a penny. SRW and HRS wheat futures are 1 to 2 cents higher, while HRW wheat is steady to fractionally lower. The U.S. dollar index is facing light pressure, while crude oil futures are again working higher. 

Today, USDA will finally release details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). USDA usually releases details just ahead of briefings. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump today will give remarks about farmers and ranchers and the U.S. food chain. During a “rural town hall” hosted by the network RFD-TV, Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said the application process will open on May 26 and money would start moving 7 to 10 days later.

Crop Consultant Dr. Michael Cordonnier says this spring’s planting has been better than average, especially in the western Corn Belt, and “there is no reason at this point not to assume trendline yields for both crops. Cordonnier made no change to his Brazilian soybean or corn crop estimates of 121 MMT and 96 MMT, respectively.

Following are some highlights from USDA’s crop progress and condition update for the week ending May 17, 2020.

  • Corn: 80% planted, 43% emerged
  • Soybeans: 53% planted, 18% emerged
  • Spring wheat: 60% planted, 30% emerged
  • Cotton: 44% planted
  • Winter wheat: 52% “good” to “excellent” (G/E); 56% headed

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank would use its “full range of tools to support the economy” in testimony prepared for delivery today. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Powell will both appear this morning before the Senate Banking Committee to discuss the first quarterly report of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

President Trump has given the World Health Organization (WHO) 30 days to make “major substantive improvements” or the U.S. will cease its funding. The agency must demonstrate “independence from China,” according to a letter, which the president posted on Twitter late Monday.

Officials from the U.S. and United Kingdom made progress on several areas over the past two weeks of negotiations and are moving forward at an “accelerated pace,” Liz Truss, U.K.’s international trade secretary, said Monday after the first round of talks.

The value of “good” agricultural land in the central Corn Belt edged up 1% in the first quarter of 2020 from a year ago, according to a survey ag bankers conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Overall, there was no change in farmland values from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020.

Cattle futures got off to a firmer start to the week. Support stemmed in part from futures’ wide discount to the cash market. Lean hog futures got off to a choppy start to the week as the market continues to hold within a consolidated trading range. The pork cutout value dropped $2.66 on Monday.

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