World Facing Food Crisis In Second Half Of 2009

Here is a batch of agriculture news from Nogger's blog.

(emphasis mine) [my comment]

Friday, 17 July 2009
Bulgaria Harvest Latest

As of July 15th Bulgarian farmers had harvested around 30% of the nation's wheat crop, with yields averaging 3.2 MT/hectare, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

They've trimmed their final wheat production estimate from 3.6-3.7 MMT to 3.5-3.6 MMT,
around 20% lower than last season's output.

Around 92% of the nation's barley has been cut with yields averaging 3.4 MT/hectare, the Ministry say, with final production estimated at 755,000 MT, 16% down on last year's crop of 900,000 MT.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Argentine Wheat Plantings Revised Lower Again

Argentine farmers will plant just 2.6 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2009/10 season, according to Oil World. That's 200,000 hectares down on their last estimate and a stunning 2.1 million less than was planted in 2008/09.

Last season's drought-ravaged crop only managed to yield 2 MT/hectare, and subsoil moisture levels have been depleted even further since then.

Of course it's not all about drought,
part of the reason behind lower plantings is a two fingered salute to the government and their export restrictions.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Brazil Turns To US For Wheat

Brazil, the world's third largest wheat importer, bought 51,000 MT of US wheat last week, that's more US wheat than it bought in the entire first six months of the year, despite a 10% import tax imposed by the government on purchases from outside the Mercosul bloc.

Brazil's normal favoured wheat supplier is Argentina, but
they of course have had a disastrous 2008 crop and are about to conclude the planting of another one.

With the Brazilian real strengthening against the dollar, millers that are being forced to look outside Mercosul for supplies are finding US wheat fitting the bill quite nicely.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009
Canadian Crop Development Lags

Late planted crops in Saskatchewan continue to lag, leaving them vulnerable to an early freeze later in the season.

According to the Agriculture Ministry there
60% of winter grains are behind normal development, that's a two point increase from their last report a fortnight ago.

Spring grains development is even further behind, with 75% of crops affected, also two points higher than their last report two weeks ago.

In addition 78% of oilseeds and 66% of pulses are behind normal development, the Ministry added.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Ukraine Harvest Estimates

Ukrainian farmers are expected to be halfway through harvesting by the weekend, but
estimates as to the size of the final grain crop this year still differ quite widely.

Final output forecasts are like your eighty year old gran's driving, all over the shop.

The Agriculture Ministry seem to be standing by their estimate of 42-43 MMT (vs 53.5 MMT in 2008), which will include around 20 MMT of wheat, with corn output in the region of 11 MMT and barley around 10 MMT, they say.
[20 percent less than last year]

Dmitri Berezovski, the President of Agrarian Chamber of Ukraine, says that
the harvest will only produce 35 MMT of grain this season. [35 percent less than last year]

Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Russian Drought Damage Affects 3.3 Million Hectares

According to the Russian Agricultural Ministry 3.3 million hectares of the nation's spring crops have been badly damaged by drought.

A state of emergency has been declared in several regions along the Volga River and southern Urals, it says.

Hot and dry conditions over the last few months are seen cutting yields in these areas quite sharply.

Despite an increase in wheat planted area of almost 8% to 28.75 million hectares,
production this year is seen lower at around 55-60 MMT from 63.7 MMT in 2008.

Friday, 24 July 2009
I'll Name That Chart In One



It's certainly not London wheat that's for sure.
This little baby is sugar, which hit it's highest in three years yesterday. This is New York sugar which peaked at 18.39 cents a pound yesterday, the highest since March 2006.

In London, white sugar closed at $474.90/tonne last night, the highest finish since July 2006, this morning it's currently at $475.90/tonne.

The reason for the rally?
The lack of monsoon rains in northern India, the world's biggest consumer, leading the government there to meet yesterday to discuss an extension of the existing tax-free concessions on sugar imports.

World demand is outstripping supply by over six million tonnes at the moment, and India is set to potentially become the world's largest importer this year, having been a net exporter only a couple of years ago.

The reason for the switch? You guessed it,
Indian farmers decided to get out of sugarcane production and get into the much more profitable grain sector!

Friday, 24 July 2009
Spanish Grain Production Estimates Revised Lower

The Spanish agriculture ministry has revised down this year's wheat and barley production estimates.

Wheat output (excluding durum) is now projected 32% lower this year at 3.8 MMT, from the Ministry's previous forecast of 4.3 MMT and 5.6 MMT in 2008/09. Durum wheat output is seen at 1.2 MMT, similar to last season's 1.1 MMT.

This season's barley crop is now forecast at 7.5 MMT, compared to the previous forecast of 8.6 MMT, which is 33% down from the 11.3 MMT harvested last year. The total includes 6.4 MMT (9.6 MMT in 2008/09) of spring barley.

The corn crop should equal last season's 3.6 MMT, they say.

Friday, 24 July 2009
Rain, Rain Go Away

It tanked it down here in North Yorkshire yesterday, much more so than what was in the forecast, or even in fact than what showed up on the radar images after the event.

It certainly wasn't the predicted sunshine and showers day that the forecasters were saying, when the 'showers' did arrive, which seemed to be about every half hour, they were very heavy downpours indeed.

It would appear that there are similar problems all over the country [the UK] and elsewhere. The Irish farmer who was recently quoted as saying something along the lines of "this year's harvest will be fine, I've never known three washouts in a row" may be starting to regret his misplaced blarney.

"This is the third year in a row of really dreadful grain growing conditions with no light on the horizon for better harvesting conditions as it continues to pelt it down. Winter barley crops are beginning to suffer from the onslaught of recent weeks and, everywhere now, one can see areas of fields lying over. My own crop is no different. It is with dismay that I look across the fields and view the ever-growing flat patches," is how one farmer quoted in the Irish Independent sees it.

"Floodwater carves 25m gully through barley field," is one headline from our own County Durham this morning. The trench is apparently 'hundreds of metres long and up to four metres deep.'

Rain appears to have stopped play elsewhere in Europe too with Reuters saying "Constant showers have disrupted Germany's barley harvest in the past two weeks. The pattern of showers followed by cloudy, humid weather may bring fungal growth on wheat if it continues in the next two weeks."

The compounder who emailed me a few months back saying that his main concern this year was the number of farmers carrying 'rubbishy' old crop into new, may be looking to pay a premium for that 'rubbishy' old crop before long!

What Are The Chinese Up To?

Friday, 17 July 2009
Call Me An Old Cynic But...

This Chinese business that sent the market crashing 44 cents on beans and $17 on meal (or thereabouts) last night. Offering half a million tonnes for sale at prices equivalent to $15/bushel is hardly going to start a stampede is it?

Old cynics would say it's a blatant and not tremendously difficult to spot attempt to get the US market down to buy some more, and get rid of these disgusting dollar things that they don't want to boot.

Old crop US stocks are still very tight, and the recent wet weather is likely to delay the harvest a bit more for what was already a late-planted crop.

South America seem to have shipped most of theirs already. China are still buying, weekly export sales from the US this week included 111,200 MT of old crop, as well as more than half a million of new crop.

It's hardly one for Miss Marple is it?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009
What Are The Chinese Up To?

The markets took a hit last Thursday, and are lower again today, on the back of the
news that China was to sell assorted quantities of corn, wheat and soybeans out of it's strategic reserve.

Does that mean that China has more than enough stocks and is looking to offload a few million tonnes, or could there be another explanation?

You know I love a good conspiracy theory.

They certainly seem to keep coming back for more US soybeans.
Last week on the very day China announced the sale of 500,000 MT of soybeans sending the market tumbling, Chinese buyers actually were reported to have booked 636,200 MT themselves in the USDA's weekly export sales report. [This is odd to say the least.]

This Thursday we will doubtless find out that they've bought more, taking advantage of last Thursday's 44 1/2 cent drop in August beans.

They are unlikely to find a huge queue of buyers at asking prices $40-50 higher than current US levels, and if they do find some takers then why not let them have some beans that have probably been sat in store for a couple of years and replace them with some nice shiny new crop ones?

Selling off a ruck of old crop beans has other advantages too. It makes China look better in the eyes of the WTO, rather than just being a buyer and hoarder of grains they become a world 'player', supplying their needy Asian neighbours.

Meanwhile
they keep smiling whilst exchanging their devaluing dollar-based foreign exchange reserves for something more desirable - fresher, better quality US beans.

Thursday, 23 July 2009
China's Soybean Auction Finds No Takers

China's much-lauded half a million tonne fire sale of soybeans at fifty bucks over the market found nobody daft enough to put their hands up today.

We'll have to wait and see if they drop their price next week in a serious attempt to shift some, or if they were "just mucking about" in the style of Kenneth Williams.

Thursday, 23 July 2009
USDA Weekly Export Sales - More Chinese Business

The USDA's weekly export sales report for the period ended July 16 revealed
yet more soybean sales to China, for both old and new crop. Sales were also very robust for corn and pretty decent for wheat too.

Old crop soybean sales of 320,000 MT were up noticeably from the previous week and almost double the prior 4-week average, it said. The main homes were China (157,600 MT) and Mexico (115,300 MT). Sales of 382,000 MT for 2009/10 delivery were primarily for unknown destinations (197,000 MT) and China (115,000 MT). That's combined sales of 702,000 MT against pre-report estimates of 450,000 - 650,000 MT.

Corn sales were 757,600 MT of old crop, mainly for Japan (460,000 MT) and South Korea (145,400 MT). New crop sales of 577,100 MT were primarily for unknown destinations (256,100 MT) and South Korea (156,000 MT). That's combined sales of 1,334,700 MT against pr e-report estimates of 800,000 - 1,200,000 MT.

Wheat sales were 342,300 MT, mainly Japan (94,600 MT), Nigeria (77,800 MT) and Mexico (57,200 MT). Pre-report estimates were 300,000 to 500,000 MT.

Actual export shipments themselves during the week were 436,800 MT for wheat, up noticeably from the previous week; 921,500 MT for corn, down 5 percent from the previous week; 283,000 MT for beans, down 27 percent from the previous week.

Friday, 24 July 2009
China To Auction Michael Jackson Concert Tickets

Following the success of their 500,000 MT soybean auction this week, the Chinese government is to auction tickets to see Michael Jackson at the O2 arena. A limited number of tickets for the Beatles reunion concert in Beijing are also up for grabs to one lucky bidder.

They also plan to auction another 500,000 MT of soybeans next week, they say. Well, when I say 'another'
it's actually probably the same 500,000 MT of three-year old stuff that nobody wanted this week.

Although they haven't confirmed the price yet,
traders expect it to be the same as this week's unsuccessful offer.

That'll have them queuing down the street won't it? Do you want Stalls or Upper Circle?

Spot soybean prices face wild price swings

Reuters reports that tight supplies send US soy on wild price ride.

Reuters
ANALYSIS-Tight supplies send US soy on wild price ride
07.16.09, 11:12 AM EDT
SOYBEANS-USA/ (ANALYSIS):ANALYSIS-Tight supplies send US soy on wild price ride

* Supplies could hit 32-year low before harvest arrives
* Chinese demand strong, leading to record export sales
* US soy cheapest in world due to drought in S. America

By Rene Pastor

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Spot soybean prices at the Chicago Board of Trade face wild price swings, caught between old-crop supplies that may hit a 32-year low and an upcoming bumper harvest that will have grain bins overflowing.

In a little more than two weeks, the spot contract has lost more than 20 percent of its value. But instead of a steady march lower, trading has been punctated by wild swings in values.

"We saw July go bananas," said Sterling Smith, an analyst for brokers Country Hedging Inc in Minnesota. The July CBOT soybean contract expired Tuesday after wild price swings.
[These wild price swings are evidence of how tight old-crop soybean stocks are. They also remind me of the wild swings commonly seen in the gold markets]

"I wouldn't be surprised if August does the same thing," he said. "August is going to be relevant because those old-crop beans are so tight."

The United States is the world's largest producer and exporter of soybeans and has seen strong demand this season after a drought reduced the South American soybean crop.

Soybeans are processed into vegetable oil and feed for livestock, especially in increasingly affluent China.

The main catalyst for the expected fireworks in the August CBOT soybean contract are dwindling old-crop supplies due to robust demand from processors in China, the world's largest soybean buyer.

U.S. soybean export sales already set a new record, three months before the marketing year will end on Aug. 31. And Chinese soy imports have also set new highs.

But the Chinese said Thursday they plan to sell 500,000 tonnes of soybeans from state reserves next week, although dealers in Asia and Europe wonder if it is an attempt to nudge prices lower so they can buy more soybeans later.

Supplies will remain scarce until American farmers harvest a new crop this fall
[At the end of September, which means it is the September soybean contract which will see the real fireworks]. U.S. soy supplies for 2008/09 are forecast to fall to 110 million bushels , the lowest in more than three decades [Based on unreliable USDA data].

U.S. farmers planted 77.5 million acres to soybeans this spring, the largest on record.
[Based on unreliable USDA data]

U.S. CHEAPEST PLACE TO BUY BEANS

China is the world's biggest consumer of soybeans for its pig and livestock industry. It has turned to the United States and Brazil, the world's No. 2 soybean producer, after the bean crop in Argentina, the No. 3 producer, suffered from drought.

"Supposedly the U.S. Pacific Northwest yesterday was the cheapest place in the world to buy beans especially if they were going to China," said Jerry Gidel, analyst for North America Risk Management Inc, earlier this week.

The harvest of that crop will help ease the supply shortage being felt in the market, but the problem is that such a solution remains a few months away, said Smith of Country Hedging.

Jack Scoville, vice president for brokers The Price Futures Group, said he had not initially thought the August soybean contract will stay relevant through its expiration on Aug. 14. The situation has changed, he said.

One indication that August retains importance is that the spread between August and November moved to $1.10 from $1.60 a few sessions ago.

Gidel said old-crop soybeans could trade in a significant range between $8.70 and $11.40 a bushel this summer while the new crop could trade in a narrower gap between $8 and $10.

"If the spread starts to move up again it could take the rest of the complex with it," Scoville said.

Gidel said the spread could "re-tighten to July's $2.00 levels over new-crop supplies if old-crop demand remains brisk ahead of harvest."

Scoville said, "I think it could be pretty wild as trade in August will be thin unless Brazil still has more to move before planting starts (there) in a month or two."

Deficient monsoon in India

The India Times reports about the impact of weak monsoon on kharif.

Impact of weak monsoon on Kharif
27 Jul 2009, 0032 hrs IST, Usha Tuteja,

The likelihood of weak monsoon rains, crucial for kharif output in India, is causing great worry to farmers, media and policymakers. Rainfall is improving but three-fourth of the country has so far received scanty or deficient rains. The key foodgrain producing states — Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, MP and Himachal Pradesh — are worst hit. The situation has become so bad that MP sought to be declared a drought affected state.

Deficient monsoon will impact the agriculture sector as a whole and kharif output in particular. Risk to the rainfed crops is greater because their sowing season extends from June to August, when country receives two-third of its monsoon rainfall.

The monsoon rains determine water availability for 58% of the country's net sown area that produces major crops like rice, pulses, oilseeds and cotton. The late sowing of these crops will lead to shorter crop cycle and will reduce yield significantly. The overall impact of monsoon rainfall on kharif output will depend on its quantum as well as regional and temporal distribution.

A setback to the monsoon could reduce already poor agriculture growth and will have an impact on the overall economic growth of the country, particularly when other important sectors are not performing well. Since more than 50% of workers' households primarily depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, low rainfall could hit the household budget of the poor by pushing food prices further up due to low production and shrinking supply of the food articles. This could reduce demand in rural areas for other items due to income contraction.

Agence France-Presse reports that India warns scanty rains to hit rice crop, bans food exports.

Agence France-Presse - 7/24/2009 11:58 AM GMT
India warns scanty rains to hit rice crop, bans food exports

India warned Friday that patchy monsoon rains were threatening its lifeline rice crop and said it would ban food exports as part of a plan to prevent any crisis.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar told parliament the June-September monsoon had been "deficient" across India, delaying sowing and planting in key agricultural states such as Punjab and Haryana.

"The monsoon this year has been weak and erratic in its progress, resulting in late sowing of (paddy) crops," Pawar said during a debate on agricultural output.

The minister said rainfall nationwide was down 19 percent on the previous year with a shortfall of 38 percent in the northwest and 43 percent in the northeast.

"Rice area and productivity may be adversely impacted which could be compensated to some extent by cultivating oilseeds, pulses and cereals," he said, noting the alternative sowing project was part of the emergency plan.

"The (present) coverage under paddy is 115,000 hectares (280,000 acres), compared to 145,000 hectares last year," he said, adding that the shortfall had been mainly reported from four states.

Nearly two-thirds of India's 1.1 billion population still depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

The monsoon is crucial because 60 percent of India's 140 million cultivable hectares is rain-dependent while the rest is irrigated.

The farm sector accounts for nearly 16 percent of India's gross domestic product.

Despite subsidies to farmers, India's agriculture sector expanded only 1.6 percent in the financial year ended March 31, compared to growth of around 4.5 percent in recent years.

Pawar also announced New Delhi would ban scheduled exports of non-premium varieties of rice as well as wheat as part of its contingency plans but insisted national food stocks were adequate to last 13 more months.

"The export of non-Basmati rice and wheat... would be completely banned. We are going to stop it," Pawar said.

India reversed on July 3 a decision to export 900,000 tonnes of wheat and held it instead in the national reserves.

The announcement came a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the second time in a month reviewed the damage from the poor rainfall.

Pawar conceded he was concerned over runaway prices of food products, mainly cereals.

"A financial support for states is under consideration to help in this regard," he said, without disclosing details.

My reaction: More bullish news for agriculture.

1) Bulgaria harvest will be around 20% lower than last season's output.

2) Argentine farmers will plant just 2.6 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2009/10 season, a stunning 2.1 million less than was planted in 2008/09 (down nearly 45%).

3) Part of the reason behind lower plantings is a two fingered salute to the government and their export restrictions.

4) Brazil, the world's third largest wheat importer, bought 51,000 MT of US wheat last week, more than it bought in the entire first six months of the year.

5) With the Brazilian real strengthening against the dollar, Brazilian millers that are being forced to look for supplies are finding US wheat fitting the bill quite nicely.

6) Canadian crop development lags with 60% of winter grains are behind normal development. Spring grains development is even further behind, with 75% of crops affected.

7) Ukraine will only produce 35 MMT of grain this season, 35 percent less than last year.

8) 3.3 million hectares of the Russia's spring crops have been badly damaged by drought. Production this year is seen lower at around 55-60 MMT from 63.7 MMT in 2008.

9) Sugar hit it's highest in three years last week.

10) The lack of monsoon rains in northern India was the main driver of the rally in sugar. World demand is outstripping supply by over six million tonnes at the moment, and India is set to potentially become the world's largest importer this year.

11) Spanish wheat output is now projected 32% lower this year at 3.8 MMT.

12) Rain is damaging crops in the UK and across Europe.

What Are The Chinese Up To?

1) The planned Chinese sale of 500,000 tonnes of soybeans is "a blatant and not tremendously difficult to spot attempt to get the US market down to buy some more".

2) Old crop US stocks of soybean are still very tight, and the recent wet weather is likely to delay the harvest a bit more for what was already a late-planted crop.

3) South America seem to have shipped most of theirs already, and China is still buying.

4) Last week on the very day China announced the sale of 500,000 MT of soybeans sending the market tumbling, Chinese buyers actually were reported to have booked 636,200 MT themselves in the USDA's weekly export sales report.

5) China's much-lauded half a million tonne fire sale of soybeans at fifty bucks over the market found nobody daft enough to put up their hands.

6) The USDA's weekly export sales report for the period ended July 16 revealed yet more soybean sales to China, for both old and new crop. Sales were also very robust for corn and pretty decent for wheat too.

7) China keeps exchanging their devaluing dollar-based foreign exchange reserves for fresher, better quality US beans.

Spot soybean prices facing wild price swings

1) The July CBOT soybean contract expired last week after wild price swings ("We saw July go bananas").

2) The main catalyst for the expected fireworks in the August CBOT soybean contract are dwindling old-crop supplies due to robust demand from processors in China, the world's largest soybean buyer.

3) Both US soybean export sales and Chinese soy imports are setting new records.

4) Last week, the US Pacific Northwest was the cheapest place in the world to buy soybeans, especially if they were going to China.

5) The harvest of soybeans that will help ease the supply shortage being felt in the market remains a few months away (end of September/beginning of October).

6) While China has said they plan to sell 500,000 tonnes of soybeans, dealers in Asia and Europe wonder if it is an attempt to nudge prices lower so they can buy more soybeans later.

Deficient monsoon in India

1) Three-fourth of India has so far received scanty or deficient monsoon rains. The key foodgrain producing states (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, MP and Himachal Pradesh) are worst hit.

2) Rainfall nationwide was down 19 percent on the previous year with a shortfall of 38 percent in the northwest and 43 percent in the northeast.

3) Indian officials, concerned over runaway prices of food products, mainly cereals, have banned food exports.


Conclusion: The world is, without a doubt, facing a food crisis in the second half of 2009.

1) Virtually every country in the world is facing double digits declines in food production (for more info, see Terrible Outlook For 2009 Global Wheat Output and World Still Facing A Global Food Crisis and *****Catastrophic Fall in 2009 Global Food Production*****).
2) World (and US) food stocks are at multi-decade lows.
3) Global demand for agricultural commodities is rising, lead by China.


On one last note, isn't funny how India's grain reserves are supposedly overflowing, yet the country is banning exports because of one bad crop? Makes you wonder if there are issues with the quality of those grain reserves.

This entry was posted in Food_Crisis, News_Developments. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to World Facing Food Crisis In Second Half Of 2009

  1. inittowinit says:

    Alright... looks like food prices are heading in one direction over time... what are the best plays? DBA, Viterra, how do we play corn and wheat? Bunge for soybeans? Let's translate this into profits ladies and gents. Good luck!

  2. Anonymous says:

    What month(s) should we start seeing activity concerning shortages?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Typically, weather doesn't get bad everywhere all at once.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-06-29-china-rain_x.htm

    Is there a possibility that the US and china dicking with the rain cycles is having unintended affects on their crops? Is there a possibility banks are running the program hoping to drive farms into debt so they liquidate the land and end up selling to a large agribusiness they own?

    Something to consider, although it comes off as tinhat type insanity.

  4. Michel says:

    Eric,
    do you have news about the audit of Chinese grain reserves undertaken by Chinese Gov., which should be ended now?

  5. Anonymous said...
    What month(s) should we start seeing activity concerning shortages?

    Shortages, especially in soybeans, will be most evident in September, right before the new crop starts arriving at the beginning of October.

    -------

    Anonymous said...
    Typically, weather doesn't get bad everywhere all at once.

    Global weather phenomenons like La Nina and El Nino can make weather go bad everywhere all at once. Seem like we were having a La Nina phenomenon up until the beginning of 2009, and now we are quickly switching to an El Nino phenomenon in the second half of 2009, which is producing its own problems.

    -------

    Michel said...
    do you have news about the audit of Chinese grain reserves undertaken by Chinese Gov., which should be ended now?

    Even though the audit main be over, the results will no doubt be a closely guarded secret.

    China to sell off grain reserves 17 July

    Late yesterday China announced it will sell 500,000t of soybeans, 1.2mmt of corn and 750,000t of wheat.

    The sale will commence on the 21st July, and comes in the wake of a three month internal audit of Chinese grain stocks by government officials. Estimates prior to the audit had grain reserves at 150 to 200mmt. That's equal to about 30-40% of China's annual grain consumption.

    Food security is a sensitive issue in China, and the results of the audit will no doubt be a closely guarded secret, however some Chinese leaders and experts have expressed concerns the audit may not go far enough, with widespread speculation that false volumes are reported by local grain authorities and companies.
    http://www.cattleprices.com.au/Content/13444

  6. kieran says:

    Hi Eric,
    I do agree that wheat production figures are that bad as it seems. However, u have not taken into account the carry out figures of wehat. This July, carry out for US wheat is about 706m bu (increase of 40mbu vs. last yr), and world wheat end stock about 181mbu (vs. 167mbu last year). Therefore looking at the big picture, it is not that bad as it seems. Not so much of a food shortage after all!

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