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Amid Hurdles, Ukraine’s Corn Harvest Shrinks, While House Passes One-Week Spending Measure; Farm Bill News

Bloomberg writer Megan Durisin reported yesterday that, “A third of Ukraine’s corn crop is still standing in fields as winter sets in, adding further strain on its vital farming sector.

“Rain and Blackouts Strand Third of Ukraine’s Corn Harvest,” by Megan Durisin. Bloomberg News (December 14, 2022).

“Growers have been hit by a series of hurdles: Record autumn rainfall muddied fields. The war has depressed how much farmers can fetch for their goods. And strikes on the country’s infrastructure have limited electricity needed to dry soggy grain.

“While exports have been curbed by Russia’s invasion, Ukraine remains the world’s fourth-largest corn shipper and has a significant impact on global supply. The grain can still be collected into spring, although prospects for its quality and quantity are ebbing.”

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report of December 9, 2022. Secretary’s Briefing- Interagency Commodity Estimates Committee Forecasts.

The Bloomberg article noted that, “The US Department of Agriculture cut its Ukraine corn crop outlook to 27 million tons on Dec. 9, down 4.5 million tons, citing relentless autumn rains in three key oblasts. That would be a five-year low. The United Nations predicts an even lower forecast of 24 million tons.”

World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report of December 9, 2022. Secretary’s Briefing- Interagency Commodity Estimates Committee Forecasts.

Durisin added that, “Farmers have left corn over winter in seasons past. Still, the bulk is usually collected by December, UkrAgroConsult said. More snow and showers over the next two weeks could delay fieldwork until 2023.”

Reuters writer Pavel Polityuk reported yesterday that, “Ukraine has exported almost 19.7 million tonnes of grain so far in the 2022/23 season, down 31.5% from the 28.7 million tonnes exported by the same stage of the previous season, agriculture ministry data showed on Wednesday.”

And Dow Jones writer Kirk Maltais reported yesterday that, “The Port of Odesa has resumed operation following Russian attacks that knocked the port offline over the weekend, according to media reports from the area. While shipments are resuming at a slower pace than they were, the return of Ukrainian shipping vessels to seas also supported a decline in wheat and corn futures on the CBOT – with delays in reopening the port seen as supportive for higher grain futures by traders.”

In budget developments, Siobhan Hughes and Eliza Collins reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “The House on Wednesday passed a one-week government funding measure to give congressional negotiators time to complete and pass a full-year omnibus spending bill, overcoming opposition from Republicans who urged postponing any deal until next year, when the GOP will take control of the chamber.”

The Journal writers explained that, “The Senate is expected to next approve the one-week extension.

“The vote on a one-week continuing resolution, which keeps the government funded at fiscal 2022 spending levels, follows the announcement Tuesday that Democratic and Republican negotiators had reached agreement on a framework and would turn to completing the details.

“Their goal is to avoid a partial government shutdown that would be triggered after Friday, when an interim spending law expires, and to finish their work by Dec. 23 so lawmakers can go home for the holidays.”

With respect to the Farm Bill, Bloomberg Government writer Maeve Sheehey reported earlier this week that, “Lawmakers see opportunities to spend more on climate-focused agriculture R&D in the farm bill, which they’ll write next year. Research usually makes up a small slice of the overall legislation, but both parties have called for more R&D to compete with China, which spends almost twice that amount. Providing the actual money is up to congressional appropriators.

Jim Costa (Calif.), a top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said he hopes to see bipartisan backing for more climate research in the next farm bill.

“I’n general, support for research at land-grant universities has been broadly bipartisan,’ said Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), adding that he doesn’t expect that to change under a Republican House and Democratic Senate.

“Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), another key Republican, noted both parties are trying to get more money for agriculture research and development.”

A recent update from Texas A&M AgriLife pointed out that, “[Joe Outlaw, Ph.D., Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University co-director in the Department of Agricultural Economics of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences] speaking about the farm bill, said a lot of action is happening in Washington with different proposals and discussions on the table. However, in the end, it will boil down to what money is available.”

An update yesterday from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), “What is the Farm Bill?” stated that, “As of this writing, the official CBO [Congressional Budget Office]  baseline to write the next farm bill is not yet available. The release of the official CBO ‘scoring baseline’ for the 2023 legislative session is expected in spring 2023. The baseline would cover the 10-year period FY2024-FY2033.  Currently, the May 2022 CBO baseline is the best indicator of future funding availability.”

The CRS report explained that, “The relative proportions of farm bill spending have changed over time. In CBO’s May 2022 projection, the Nutrition title is 84% of the farm bill baseline, compared with about 76% when the 2018 farm bill was enacted. Increases in the Nutrition title since 2018 reflect consequences of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, inflation, and administrative adjustments pursuant to the 2018 farm bill. For the non-nutrition agriculture programs in the farm bill, current economic projections are that program outlays would be $205 billion over the next 10 years, 3% lower than at enactment in 2018.”

And Larry Lee reported earlier this week at Brownfield that, “A National Farmers Union official is optimistic Congress can craft the new farm bill in a timely manner.  Vice President of Advocacy Mike Stranz tells Brownfield the first House Ag Committee public listening session starts four days after the new Congress is sworn January 7th. ‘Hopefully, that momentum continues and that markups and debate and negotiation can get started late in the spring, maybe into the summer, and we can try to get a farm bill done on time.'”

“Stranz says his organization also wants the next farm bill to have a farm safety net that reflects today’s market realities with high inflation and input costs,” the Brownfield article said.

Keith Good Photo

Keith Good is the Farm Policy News editor for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, and compiled the daily News Summary from 2003-2015. He is a graduate of Purdue University (M.S.- Agricultural Economics), and Southern Illinois University School of Law.

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