NOTE: This blog and newsletter will be absent until the last week of June. You have been warned.
1. Canada News
"Bruce Burnett believes the Canadian dollar will continue to strengthen throughout the remainder of 2018, which doesn’t bode well for grain prices.
The dollar went on a tear in 2017, rising from a low of 73 cents U.S. in May to a high of 82 cents in September. It has bounced up and down since then and is currently sitting around 78 cents.
Burnett, who is director of markets and weather with Glacier MarketsFarm, believes the loonie is poised for another bull run, and this one could last a while.
Glacier MarketsFarm is owned by Glacier FarmMedia, which also owns The Western Producer.
The exchange rate is usually determined by the relative strength of the U.S. and Canadian economies and the spread in interest rates between the two central banks.
“My concern is we’re probably getting close to that stage where people are now going to start to trade the Canadian dollar based on the price of oil rather than the relative economic growth,” he said."
"A flood due to heavy rains caused a lot of damage in Southern New Brunswick last week.
In this area Scott’s Nursery Ltd is located. The 6-acre greenhouse grows several bedding plants, potted plants, seasonal crops and perennials and more.
During the flood some plants were swimming. The water raised in the greenhouse and the shipping docks were blocked by the water.
“This flood season was worse than the last large flood we had about 15 years ago”, says George Scott. ”In this area we experience a lot of weather changes.
It is these extreme situations that make it hard compensating for. In 1973 we had a flood that was similar to this one. Most years flood season is not an issue. We are conscious about it. There is a flood plan and there are also a lot of drainages. To protect our company, anything we build in recent years we build above the safe levels.”"
"People in Ontario may have changed their preferences on formal agri-environmental land use policies.
In a recent study, researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom interviewed stakeholder organizations in Ontario and England to determine their perspectives on land allocation.
Participants in both locations opted to integrate agricultural and environmental land uses – known as land-sharing – rather than separate them, the study, which was published in the June 2018 edition of Land Use Policy, revealed.
These results slightly surprised the researchers, as Ontario participants preferred land-sparing policies, which involve the division of these two uses, in a previous study.
By integrating environmental and agricultural activities on their properties, farmers and land owners could see multiple benefits, the article stated.
For example, producers could reduce soil erosion in their fields and provide habitats for grassland birds.
While most participants strongly favoured land-sharing policies, some individuals in Ontario had alternative points of view."
2. Protected Crops
"Jeff VanRoboys laments the Ontario government’s one-two punch that he says is hurting his cucumber harvesting business.
The 40-year-old farmer and entrepreneur says his company — The Pickle Station, located about 300 kilometres west of Toronto — has been hit hard by sky-high hydro rates and a recent increase in minimum wage.
When VanRoboys took over from his father in 2008, he says his hydro bill during the peak month of operation, August, was roughly $18,000. Fast forward to August 2017 and the bill for that same period was $42,000.
On top of that, the province’s decision to increase the minimum wage to $14 an hour has forced his business, which employs more than 200 local students during the busy harvesting months of July and August, to cut back on smaller, hand-picked cucumber varieties typically sold to U.S. companies.
VanRoboys says he explained to the American companies that he would need to increase prices to cope with higher labour costs — as the Liberal government had advised businesses to do — but was told that wouldn’t be accepted."
5. US Crop Protection News
"A genetically engineered virus that could fight the citrus greening disease has received a positive review from USDA.
In a draft environmental impact statement, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says it found that the biotech virus wouldn’t harm the environment or pose any threat to human health.
The virus has been modified to produce proteins from spinach as a way to prevent citrus greening disease in Florida orange groves.
The draft EIS says that the virus, if it proves effective, could help save Florida’s citrus industry by saving trees and increasing yields. Citrus greening has reduced Florida orange production by over 40 percent in the last five years.
APHIS will accept public comments on the environmental impact statement until June 25."
FARM BILL DECISION DAY IN THE HOUSE: The House appears to be barreling toward voting on the farm bill today despite lingering uncertainty over whether House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway has enough votes to push the legislation through. The House Freedom Caucus threw up a potential roadblock when its members decided to give leadership an ultimatum: Call an immigration bill to the floor before we relinquish farm bill votes.
Sticking to it: House GOP leaders maintained late Thursday that lawmakers will still vote on H.R. 2 today as planned, despite the threat.
Speaker Paul Ryan bartered late into Thursday night with Freedom Caucus leaders. His team explained to the group of conservative members that they could not deal with immigration before the farm bill. Later, the caucus had a conference call to discuss what to do.
Clock ticking: It could come down to the wire as the House plans to vote on the bill starting at 10:30 a.m. — assuming leadership isn’t forced to pull the measure last minute if the Freedom Caucus doesn’t budge or if moderate Republicans back away from supporting the bill over its proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
NAFTA SOON? WISHFUL THINKING: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave people hope earlier on Thursday that a deal was near. By the end of the day, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer quashed that hope.
Negotiators from the U.S., Mexico and Canada remain remarkably far apart on a number of issues, Lighthizer said in a rare candid statement at the end of the day.
”The NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal,“ he said. ”We of course will continue to engage in negotiations, and I look forward to working with my counterparts to secure the best possible deal for American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses."
‘Gaping differences:’ Lighthizer ticked off numerous differences that remain on number of areas, such as market access for agricultural products, energy, geographic indications and labor.
Canada’s rosy outlook: Trudeau displayed much more optimism on Thursday, saying that NAFTA negotiators could be offering positive news in the coming days. He even went as far as to contend in comments at a luncheon at the Economic Club of New York that the three nations had a “broadly acceptable” auto deal at hand.
Farmers keep pressing for certainty: A group of state agriculture leaders and farmers — accompanied by Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) – called on the Trump administration to consider the long-term harm that trade uncertainty could do to agriculture. Daines emphasized that the administration needs to “do no harm and mitigate any threats or retaliation,” while also helping unlock new markets for U.S. agricultural goods.
Major trading partners, like Mexico, have already begun looking at other potential sources to replace the U.S., said Michelle Erickson-Jones, a Montana wheat and oilseed farmer. Growers’ existing relationship with Mexico “has been now put into flux and filled with uncertainty as we continue to renegotiate NAFTA,” Erickson-Jones said at a press conference hosted by Farmers for Free Trade. Mexico is “looking at outside sources for various products,” such as getting barley from the EU.
7. Crop Protection Business
• PRICES OF PESTICIDE FORMULATION AT CHINA’S TERMINAL MARKET DON’T SYNCHRONIZE WITH TECHNICAL IN EARLY 2018 | AgroNews
"By Think Real – Since the second half of 2017, under the effect of the environmental protection examination, chemical enterprises had to stop or restrict production, which caused a serious shortage of pesticide technical and intermediates and a low operating rate of technical enterprises. Some producers engaged in trading raised the pesticide technical prices and by Nov. 2017, they reached the highest and didn’t fall. Except for some price reduction of some special products, most pesticide technical products maintained at a high price level though the prices didn’t go up to a large extent.
The price surge in 2017 enhanced the prices of most pesticides to another level. Compared with the same period last year, the increase of some pesticide technical even exceeded 100%. However, the price surge only happened to technical, formulation and trading enterprises, which exerted no synchronous influence on distributors. Some of them raised the selling price indeed, but many maintained the same.
There were four main reasons behind the situation.
- Distributors couldn’t judge if the price surge would last long and so didn’t take any hasty measures.
- Some distributors had many inventories in the past years and some formulation enterprises also had inventories. Most formulation enterprises didn’t synchronize in the price surge as they were not short of supply.
- Most formulation enterprises have to maintain their sales volumes and dare not raise the price too much, especially to their large clients. Moreover, wholesalers don’t raise the price much to their terminal retailers, or at all to acquire the competitive advantage in the terminal market. Therefore, formulation enterprises and wholesalers have to lower their profits to offset the negative influence exerted by the pesticide technical price surge.
- Pesticide users at the terminal end, farmers, are not sensitive about the price surge, which makes it hard for retailers to raise the price easily."
9. Europe Africa Middle East
"An EU court upheld on Thursday a partial ban on three insecticides known as neonicotinoids, saying that the European Commission had been right to restrict their use to protect bees.
The ruling covers three active substances – imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.
The General Court of the European Union did however annul restrictions on the use of another pesticide BASF’s fipronil, because the Commission had not carried out an adequate assessment of the impact of its measures.
Bayer expressed their disappointment with the verdict of the General Court of the European Union’s on Case T–429/13 Bayer CropScience v European Commission. Bayer will review the verdict in detail and assess its consequences and potential legal options.
Bayer decided to pursue legal action to gain clarity on the legal basis of the Commission’s decision, which – in Bayer’s opinion – was uncertain. Bayer remains convinced of the safety of its products when applied in accordance with the label instructions."
"According to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005, EFSA has reviewed the maximum residue levels (MRLs) currently established at European level for the pesticide active substance glyphosate.
To assess the occurrence of glyphosate residues in plants, processed commodities, rotational crops and livestock, EFSA considered the conclusions derived under Commission Regulation (EU) No 1141/2010 as amended by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 380/2013, the MRLs established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission as well as the import tolerances and European authorisations reported by Member States (including the supporting residues data).
Based on the assessment of the available data, MRL proposals were derived and a consumer risk assessment was carried out. Although no apparent risk to consumers was identified, some information required by the regulatory framework was missing.
Hence, the consumer risk assessment is considered indicative only and some MRL proposals derived by EFSA still require further consideration by risk managers."
• EFSA – EVALUATION OF THE IMPACT OF GLYPHOSATE AND ITS RESIDUES IN FEED ON ANIMAL HEALTH | AgroNews
"EFSA was requested by the European Commission to consider the impact of glyphosate residues in feed on animal health in accordance with Article 31 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.
The current report presents the assessment of the available information on glyphosate residues in feed, including feed imported from outside the European Union (i.e. third countries) and the conclusions on the possible impact of those residues on animal health.
The conclusions of this scientific report were reached on the basis of the initial evaluation carried out by the competent authority of the rapporteur Member State, Germany, using data made available by industry, on the existing EFSA Conclusion on glyphosate as well as on the basis of a literature review conducted by EFSA.
The current report is delivered at the same time as the EFSA Reasoned Opinion on the review of existing maximum residue levels for glyphosate according to Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005.
With regard to the assessment of the impact of glyphosate and its residues on animal health, considering the available data, glyphosate is not expected to have a major impact, if any, on animal health."