First Thing Today | January 21, 2022

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Good morning!

Weaker tone overnight... Soybeans, corn and spring wheat pulled back from Thursday’s gains overnight, while winter wheat futures extended yesterday’s losses. As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn is trading 2 to 3 cents lower, soybeans are 6 to 8 cents lower, SRW wheat futures are around 7 cents lower, HRW wheat is 4 to 6 cents lower and spring wheat is mostly 3 to 4 cents lower. Front-month crude oil futures are around $1.25 lower and the U.S. dollar is around 100 points lower this morning.

Biden hardens warning to Russia after Kyiv says no attack is ‘minor’... Ukraine has hit back at President Joe Biden’s suggestion earlier this week a “minor incursion” by Russian forces into the country might not prompt a severe allied response, forcing him to publicly reassure Kyiv that any attack by the Kremlin would trigger strong sanctions. “We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations,” Volodymyr Zelensky, the pro-western Ukrainian president, wrote on Twitter on Thursday. After Zelensky’s rebuke and alarm in other allied capitals, Biden sought to go back on his own comments, saying at the White House that any Russian incursion would spark sweeping sanctions. “If any, any assembled Russian units move across the Ukrainian border, that is an invasion,” Biden said on Thursday. “Let there be no doubt at all, if [Russian president Vladimir] Putin makes this choice, Russia will pay a heavy price.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Berlin Thursday for talks with German, French and U.K. foreign ministers ahead of a meeting today with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.

Weekly Export Sales Report out this morning… For the week ended Jan. 13, traders expect:


2021-22 (in MT)


last week

2022-23 (in MT)


last week


























Trucker vaccine mandate adding to supply-chain woes in Canada... A push to encourage truckers in Canada and the U.S. to get vaccinated is stopping a lot more than just Covid-19 at the border. Bloomberg reports that just days after new rules came into effect that require American truckers to be fully vaccinated to cross into Canada, grocers said some produce shelves were bare and the cost of hauling everything from tomatoes to lettuce from the southern U.S. has jumped 25%. Canada relies on imports of fresh fruit and vegetables from its biggest trading partner in the winter. The vaccine mandate is poised to add further strain to a supply chain struggling with labor shortages and weather disruptions.

Russian wheat export tax drops again... Russia’s wheat export tax for Jan. 26-Feb. 1 will be $95.80 per metric ton, based on an indicative price of $336.90 per metric ton, down from the current rate of $97.50 per MT. This is the second week in a row the wheat tax has declined after rising every week for nearly four months. The wheat export tax is still up 241% from the beginning of June when Russia first started using the sliding scale.

China makes more rate cuts... The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lowered rates on its standing lending facility (SLF) loans by 10 basis points. The bank lowered the overnight SLF rate to 2.95% from 3.05%, the 7-day rate to 3.10% from 3.20% and the 1-month rate to 3.45% from 3.55%. The SLF was created by the PBOC in 2013 to meet the temporary liquidity needs of financial institutions, and its interest rates are determined by monetary policy direction and other money market rates in China. Chinese banks can borrow SLF loans from the PBOC using qualified bonds and other credit assets as collateral.

Chinese premier: Beijing will step up policy support... China will appropriately increase policy support for the economy as it faces new downward pressure, Premier Li Keqiang was quoted as saying by state media. But Li reiterated the government will not resort to “flood-like” stimulus. Meanwhile, China will be able to achieve economic growth of around 5.5% in 2022, Zhu Guangyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet, said. The expected interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve could have a significant market impact, Zhu said, adding the U.S. should strengthen its policy coordination with developing countries.

China puts Iranian oil in state reserves... China has offloaded nearly four million barrels of Iranian crude oil into state reserves in the southern port city of Zhanjiang over the past few weeks, a trade source and ship tracking specialist Vortexa Analytics told Reuters. The move comes as world powers are locked in tough negotiations with Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal that will include the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil. The refilling of China’s strategic oil reserves also comes ahead of a planned release of oil from emergency stockpiles in a coordinated effort with the U.S. and others to help cool global oil prices.

Vilsack addresses state of U.S. ag, key issues... USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack appeared before the House Ag Committee for nearly four hours on Thursday. He addressed the state of U.S. agriculture and many of the key topics that will impact farmers and ranchers not only in 2022 but the years ahead. Click here to view the highlights.

Vilsack: Payments to hog producers in ‘March timeframe... One of the issues Vilsack was asked about is a topic we’ve received several inquiries on – the status of disbursements under the Spot Market Hog Pandemic Program (SMHPP) announced in December. Vilsack blamed delays on issues relative to eligibility requirements and said USDA is working to revise the application process. “We hope to get that done very soon and the expectation is, once we do, we hope to be able to see payments made sometime hopefully [in] the March timeframe.” Signup for the program runs until Feb. 25.

Jan. 1 feedlot supplies expected to be near year-ago levels... Traders expect USDA’s Cattle on Feed Report at 2 p.m. CT to show On Feed at 99.8%, placements at 102.6% and Marketings at 100.8% of year-ago levels. We’ll have our post-report analysis in “Evening Report” and on

Cash cattle trade mostly wrapped up... This week’s cash cattle sales took place at roughly steady prices compared with last week. Cash sources say if slaughter was normal, cash prices would have been stronger. But one also notes that the past three weeks of Covid-related slowdowns has likely left 40,000 to 50,000 head of cattle in feedlots that would have been marketed. That’s likely to keep somewhat of a cap on the cash cattle market in the weeks ahead.

Hogs build bullish momentum... All contracts except front-month February lean hog futures scored contract highs Thursday amid a surge of technical-based buying and money flow into the long side of the market. February hogs finished yesterday $8.425 above today’s CME lean hog index quote. While the strong gains and high-range close could lead to initial followthrough buying, it wouldn’t surprise us to seem some profit-taking/corrective selling ahead of the weekend.

Overnight demand news... South Korea purchased 82,000 MT of U.S. milling wheat.

Today’s reports


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