Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monsanto (MON) Lawsuit from Organic Farmers Dismissed

A lawsuit brought by organic farmers against Monsanto (NYSE:MON) has been dismissed by a federal court in New York.

Although a lot of the cotton corn, canola and soy in the United States is genetically modified, the major concern and probability is for corn to be the main crop which could migrate to nearby fields, which the lawsuit was about.

The two major concerned aired by organic farmers was over the possibility of being sued by Monsanto over the drifting of their genetically modified genes into the fields of the farmers, which of course hadn't paid for them.

Second, was the potential for organic farmers' crops to lose value because of the inclusion of some of the genetically modified crops mixed with theirs.

As of 2011, anywhere from half a percent to 2 percent of GMOs are mixed in with organic corn, generating some of the concerns from organic farmers.

The judge ruled against the organic farmers because "not one single plaintiff claims to have been so threatened" by Monsanto concerning a lawsuit.

According to the ruling, the judge added that the farmers overstated the magnitude of patent enforcement" by Monsanto, which on average brings about 13 patent-enforcement lawsuits annually. The judge said that "is hardly significant when compared to the number of farms in the United States, approximately two million."

In regard to patent rights, Monsanto asserted they don't bring lawsuits against farmers where small amounts of traits from their genes land in the fields of the organic farmers, or others.

Monday, February 27, 2012

China Corn Import Speculation Supporting Prices

Speculation that China may boost its corn imports from the United States has offered support to corn prices, even though other factors point to weakening conditions going forward.

For now though, corn futures for May delivery climbed to $6.485 a bushel, a gain of 0.7 percent.

As for China, the assumption is it will want to build up diminished inventory before the corn season in that country begins.

At this time it's less expensive for China to import corn from the United States than to use its domestic supply.

Drought conditions in crucial corn-producing areas of South America make the United States a probable choice for Chinese corn imports.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monanto (MON) Battles France Over MON810 Corn

Monsanto (NYSE:MON) has won legal battle after legal battle in its pursuit of introducing MON810 corn into the French market, and with little recourse left to it, France continues to fight against the release of the genetically modified (GM) corn into the country.

MON810 is the only genetically modified crop that has been approved by the EU for planting in EU member countries.

After being ruled against by the European Court of Justice in September, 2011, France was also ruled against by the highest court in November, leaving them with just a plea to the EU that they not allow the rulings to go forward.

The question is what legal standing does France have left, as the plea has already been addressed and legally rejected.

It appears the only recourse for France is hopes of the EU deciding to allow individual countries in the region to decide. The problem with that is of course whenever the population of a certain country in the EU resists decisions, it undermines the group of countries who are fighting to keep the EU from collapsing altogether.

If France has no desire to abide by the rulings, the best thing the country could do is just quit pretending it's part of the EU and leave it; then begin to use its own currency again, while reasserting its own sovereignty.

Trying to have it both ways, even with something as small and relatively insignificant as GM corn, underscores the weakness of the EU, which is continuing to teeter on the precipice of collapse.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Iowa 2012 Corn Acre Planting Projections

With a tight supply and declining production in South America because of an ongoing drought, farmers in the United States are expected to boost the amount of acres they plant in corn, with Iowa farmers contributing significantly to those upwardly revised numbers.

Even so, the results of a coupld of recent surveys, one an online survey and the second a survey conducted at the Iowa Power Farming Show, show farmers in Iowa are looking to plant about 300,000 more acres than originally thought, a smaller increase than expected.

Iowa farmers also said they'll probably plant an additional 50,000 acres of beans.

What surprised those conducting the surveys is there has been a lot of talk by farmers in Iowa about boosting the number of acreage planted in corn. Evidently that was more talk than action being seriously considered by the farmers.

At the national level, farmers have been estimated they're going to boost corn acres planted by about 94.9 million acres, an increase of 2.9 million acres over 2011.

For soybeans, there isn't near as much change, with the number of acres projected to be planted nationally to rise by just over 500,000 to 75.5 million for 2012. In 2011, the number of acres planted in soybeans in the United States was just under 75 million.

The decision to plant more acreage isn't without risk though. If weather conditions are good, the increased number of acres planted in corn could push the price down.

Midwest Farm Values Soar on High Crop Prices, Low Debt

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago said farm land in the midwest of the United States has jumped the highest for a one-year period in 36 years, soaring 25 percent during that time.

Confirming the numbers, the Kansas City Fed also reported a 25 percent gain in farmland prices in the region year-over-year.

Most of this has been the result of price jumps in many areas of farming, including dairy, livestock and various crops.

The report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago asserted that "... 2011 may go down in the annals of U.S. agriculture as a once-in-a-generation phenomenon."

Another key factor in rising farm prices is the interest by investors in farm land, as the realization there isn't going to be any more land to farm even as the world population increases.

In the short term the soaring farm prices have generated concern over the possibility of a bubble, but because of lower debt loads by farmers than they held in the 1980s, as well as what appears to be sustainable prices of crops, has a number of analysts believing a bubble in farm land is an unlikely scenario.

Farmland prices have also slowed down in growth, rising in value by 4 percent over the last quarter of 2011. Expectations are farmland prices will continue to climbe in the first quarter of 2012.

South Dakota Corn Production Soars 36 percent

Corn production in South Dakota climbed in a big way in 2011, as the value of corn soared for the year.

According to estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn jumped in value in South Dakota to $3.95 billion, a huge improvement of 36 percent over corn value in the state for 2010.

Other production results had soybeans ending 2011 valued at $1.72 billion, while hay came in at a value of $1 billion. Wheat came in just shy of $800 million, finishing the year at $799.5 million. Alfalfa hay was just behind wheat in value for South Dakoto, closing 2011 at $793.1 million.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Deere & Co. (DE) Projects Lower Corn Prices

Agriculture equipment maker Deere & Co. (NYSE:DE) said on Wednesday they see corn prices dropping for 2012-2013, along with the price of soybeans, cotton and wheat.

Using a date for the starting the year of September 1, Deere said they see corn prices falling on average to $5.30 a bushel for 2012-2013, down from the average of $6.40 a bushel in 2011.

Soybeans are expected to drop significantly by Deere, with estimates of price per bushel falling from $13 a bushel in 2011 to $10.50 a bushel for 2012-2013. That's down from the November estimate of $11.25 a bushel.

For wheat, Deere sees prices dropping from $7.40 a bushel in 2011 to an average of $6.70 a bushel for 2012-2013. That's a little up from the November estimates of $6.60 a bushel for wheat.

Cotton is forecast to plummet from 88 cents a pound in 2011 to 75 cents a pound on average for 2012-2013.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Bunge Limited (BG) 2012 Outlook Better

After quarterly earnings plummeted by 34 percent in 2011, Bunge Limited (NYSE: BG) appears poised to rebound nicely in 2012.

Bunge is looking for a 15 percent boost in its share price in 2012, with analysts having a mixed outlook recently.

Bunge Limited had its price target cut by Barclays Capital (NYSE:BCS) from $81.00 to $79.00. They have an “Overweight” rating on the company.

Bunge Limited had its “Sell” rating reiterated by Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).

Bunge Limited was upgraded by TheStreet to a “Buy” rating.

Bunge Limited had its price target raised by Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) to $80.00. They have an “Outperform” rating on the company.

The agribusiness company has placed an estimate of $73.25 on its shares for 2012, with some analysts looking at $80.00 a share for the year. They have a dividend of $1.00, yielding 1.7 percent.

Amrit Banaspati Co Ltd., the edible oils and fats business, will be soon acquired by Bunge.

That and the organic push at the end of the year bodes well for the food company.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Corn Stockpile Estimates Cut by USDA for 2012

Projections for corn stockpiles in the United States has been lowered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 2012.

The downwardly revised U.S. corn stockpile estimates come from the continuing dry weather in South America, especially Argentina, which will probably result in inventories being down because of exports going up as countries gravitate to the American corn supply to make up for the shrinking South American corn yield.

Officials at the USDA slashed expected 2012 domestic corn inventory to 801 million bushels, a drop of 5.3 percent.

Argentina corn production estimates were cut by the USDA to 22 million metric tons, a decline of 15 percent. Brazil, which analysts had believed would also have corn production estimates lowered by the USDA, was kept the same, although that could be downwardly revised as the impact of weather conditions on the corn yield are clearer.

Since the middle of December, corn prices have climbed about 10 percent, in response to the first news reports dry weather was having a significant impact on the South American corn crop.

The second-largest producer of corn in the world, behind the United States, is Argentina.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

U.S. Corn Farmers to Plant Large Acreage Say Analysts

In a Reuters poll of 24 analysts, consensus is U.S. farmers will plant the largest amount of acres in corn in 68 years. Expectations are a faster than usual planting because of mild and drier weather will help raise the corn acreage planted.

Estimates are a total of 94.2 million acres will be planted, which could result in a record crop of 13.8 billion bushels produced, based upon a yield of 161.4 bushels an acre. The previous record is 13.1 billion bushels.

If the estimates are accurate, it'll be the largest amount of acreage planted in corn since 1944.

Some think the higher corn planting estimates are premature, citing farmers who haven't made a decision yet on whether to go with soybeans or corn. Corn is expected to be more profitable, but also has higher input costs.

Most believe higher corn prices are sustainable, which should drive up the earnings per acre by about $100 more than soybeans, matching performance over the last three years.

That assumption is based upon low supply and high demand. The drought in Argentina is also considered a major support for corn prices this year, and a reason for U.S. farmers boosting the number of acres planted.

The thought is if corn is above $6.50 a bushel, farmers will plant more acreage in 2012.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Corn Production Should Increase says Glauber

Talking to agribusinessmen in Indiana, Joe Glauber, the leading economist for the USDA, told the group that he believes in the spring of 2012 more acreage across the country will be planted in corn.

He said most of that will be in the southern part of the United States.

“Just where soybean prices are relative to corn seems to favor corn planting. Last year there was a lot of competition for acres by cotton, but this year cotton has come down,” said Glauber.

Production in 2012 is only the beginning, according to the economist, who estimates about 93 million acres to be planted this year. Over the next month there will be a few production projections leading up to the report of planting intentions scheduled to be released in the latter part of March.

That report is based upon surveys of farmers.

As for the coming years, stockpiles are expected to grow, although it'll take time in Glauber's view because of the strong demand for corn.

For levels to increase, he sees a need to return to yields of about 160 bushels an acre. Poor weather has kept the yields weaker over the last several years.

Of course we need to eliminate the ethanol mandate as well, and allow people to make decisions as to what fuel they want in their vehicles. That has put enormous pressure on the corn supply.

The majority of corn demand over the next decade will come from China.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wisconsin Corn Damage from Sandhill Cranes Calls for Hunt

The growing number of sandhill cranes from misguided attempts to boost the population, has done just that in Wisconsin, resulting in a growing amount of corn crop damage as a consequence.

That has led to the introduction of a bill by a Wisconsin lawmaker, which would allow a hunt of the birds to thin the population and corn damage.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, it is estimated the sandhill crane is now the most abundant crane species in the world, numbering at about 600,000.

In what is called the eastern population, Wisconsin, along with Michigan, in the United States, and Ontario, Canada, to the north, are now the major nesting grounds of the prolific bird. the eastern population is estimated to be at about 70,000. Of that, Wisconsin has about 25,000 of them within its borders.

Many crane advocates want no management whatsoever, which is of course a naive and uneducated outlook. All animal populations must be carefully managed so things like the devastation of corn by the sandhill crane is kept to a minimum.

Cranes eat corn seed an young stocks. Southern Wisconsin landowners were issued 55 permits, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Now thirteen states in the U.S. have instituted crane hunts.

Corn Concerns Push Ethanol Higher

Rising demand for corn exports from the United States pushed up the price of ethanol futures for the second day in a row, as worries over production costs pressured ethanol higher.

Assumptions the distilleries will be forced to compete for supply with foreign buyers, drove corn to a three-week high Wednesday.

On the Chicago Board of Trade, denatured ethanol for February delivery climbed 0.2 cent to $2.169 a gallon.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 3 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $6.42 a bushel in Chicago.

In the ethanol cash market, prices rose in New York 1.5 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $2.285; on the West Coast it was up 2 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $2.295; in Chicago it increased 2.5 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $2.18; and in the U.S. Gulf it jumped 2 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $2.265.