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Black Sea Grain Issues in Focus, While China Soy Imports Climb; U.S. Corn Harvest Starting Sooner Than Normal

Reuters writers Jonathan Saul and Carolyn Cohn reported today that, “Lloyd’s of London is in talks with the United Nations over providing insurance cover for Ukrainian grain shipments if a new Black Sea corridor deal can be reached, its CEO John Neal told Reuters on Thursday.”

The article pointed out that, “Securing insurance cover is crucial for shipments leaving Ukraine.”

Saul and Cohn added that, “Insurer Beazley had covered ships in the grain corridor and also in the separate humanitarian channel that Ukraine has set up in recent weeks to enable ships stuck in Ukraine to leave, its CEO Adrian Cox told Reuters separately on Thursday.”

Reuters News also reported today that, “Kernel, Ukraine’s largest sunflower oil exporter, has already suffered three Russian attacks this month on its Danube River port facilities, the company said.

“Kernel said in a statement on the Warsaw stock exchange late on Wednesday that the air strikes were on Sept. 2, Sept. 3 and Sept. 6 — part of a series of Russian attacks which it said had ‘severely disrupted river export logistics.'”

And Bloomberg writers Lyubov Pronina, Jorge Valero, and Andra Timu reported today that, “Poland, Hungary and Slovakia are continuing to push for extending a ban on grain imports from Ukraine until the end of the year, warning of disruptions to their domestic markets, according to people familiar with the issue.

“The three states along with Bulgaria and Romania only allow the transit of Ukrainian grain through their territory in an arrangement that expires on Sept. 15.”

Yesterday, Reuters reported that, “Russia said on Wednesday that Turkey had agreed in principle to handle 1 million metric tons of grain that Russia plans to send to Africa at a discounted price with financial support from Qatar.”

Elsewhere, Reuters writer Mei Mei Chu reported yesterday that,

China imported 9.36 million metric tons of soybeans in August, customs data showed on Thursday, jumping 31% from a year ago, as large purchases of cheap Brazilian beans continued to reach the world’s top buyer of the oilseed.

Total soy arrivals in the first eight months of the year reached 71.65 million metric tons, up 17.9% year-on-year, the General Administration of Customs data showed.”

The article explained that, “However, soybean arrivals are set to drop in the coming months, traders and analysts say, after worries about drought in China’s second-largest supplier, the United States, triggered a rally in global prices, reducing purchases by Chinese crushers.

“The expected lower arrivals in September and October, just ahead of the peak meat consumption season at the end of the year, have pushed Chinese soymeal futures to record highs.”

Also with respect to China, Bloomberg writer Hallie Gu reported today that, “China has asked some fertilizer producers to suspend urea exports after domestic prices jumped, a move that’s likely to restrict supplies and boost costs for farmers in key buyers such as India.

“China Asks Fertilizer Producers to Suspend Urea Shipments,” by Hallie Gu. Bloomberg News (September 7, 2023).

“Some major Chinese fertilizer makers halted signing new export deals from early this month following a government mandate, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as they’re not authorized to speak to the media. The restriction only applies to urea so far, they said.”

In news regarding U.S. crop production, Reuters writer Karl Plume reported yesterday that, “Corn harvesting in parts of the western U.S. Midwest is starting sooner than normal after a recent stretch of hot, dry weather sped the crop to maturity, analysts and agronomists said on Wednesday.

“The crop’s rapid finish may lower crop quality or reduce grain yields in the main growing areas because more weather-shrunken kernels are needed to fill each bushel, they said. Some farmers with lower quality corn may have to sell it at a discount.”

Plume noted that, “In a weekly report late on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said 18% of the U.S. corn crop was mature as of Sept. 3, compared with the 10-year average of 13%.”

And Dow Jones writer Jeffrey T. Lewis reported yesterday that, “Brazilian crop agency Conab raised its estimate for corn production for the 2023-2024 growing season and left its estimate for soybean production unchanged in its final report for the crop year.

“Brazilian farmers will produce a record 131.9 million metric tons of corn this season, the agency said Wednesday. In August, the agency forecast a crop of 130 million tons. Brazil produced 113.1 million tons of corn in the 2022-2023 season.”

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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