Grains in the first week of March got fairly volatile thanks to the situation in Ukraine standing on a razor’s edge. Profit-taking was seen just hours after the market spiked on worries that Russia was invading Ukraine but then profit-taking took over once an all-out invasion didn’t occur. Nonetheless, oats continue to party like the music’s never going to stop, with the May contract close to touching five dollars a bushel on futures board in Chicago! Despite being able to cut the tension with a knife in Ukraine, grain is still moving through the country’s pipeline. Ukraine has reportedly shipped 24.7 million tonnes of grain in the current marketing year through March 3rd. This included 7.43 million tonnes of wheat (full-year forecast is 10 million tonnes), almost 3 million tonnes of oilseeds (2.06 million tonnes of rapeseed & 930,000 tonnes of soybeans) and 14.9 million tonnes of corn (full year forecast is for 18 million tonnes)! While the situation is still in the early stages, the Ukrainian agricultural industry is persevering quite nicely while the political state remains in jeopardy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to the media soon after placing his military on alert, saying he’s not interested in making Crimea (southern peninsula of Ukraine) part of Russia, but that it’ll be up to the residents of Crimea to decide whether or not they re-join the Motherland. The G8 Summit, planned for June in Sochi (where the Winter Olympics were held) is still on, according to Putin, but he said that “if they don’t want to come, it’s up to them.” Further, Putin said that if the west puts implements any sanctions on Russia, it wouldn’t be a good move for anyone. The Russian President also said that he agrees with the West that “Ukrainians have the right for a change of the political system” but that ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovich is still legally the legitimate leader of Ukraine. Clearly, the curtain is far from being closed.
Coming back to Canada, former Finance Minister and current Member of Parliament Ralph Goodale tactfully pointed out recently that Prime Minister Harper’s downfalls and blames for the current transportation issues. The Regina-based MP says that reports, information, and data dating back to 2007 pointed out pitfalls in the logistics system that Harper should’ve addressed but failed to do so. Saskatchewan Premier Brad knows a little about using the facts, albeit oats market analyst Randy Strychar says that the Premier’s accusation that “General Mills will run out of oats in 15-20 days” is unfounded (“no more Cheerios,” you ask?). A veteran ag-industry commentator, Strychar says that, in reality, U.S. millers likely have 60-75 days of supply left. Potentially adding to the problem though is the fact that C.P. & C.N. recently cut 19 product car loading sites across the Canadian Prairies. Of course, there’s a lot of pointing of fingers going on, but the best thing you can do is not wait for someone else to step up, but rather take things into your own hands. For example, you can still do loaded producer car deals on the FarmLead Marketplace – check out our list of producer car loading sites on the FarmLead website under Crop Zones. As the motto of my alma mater, Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, SK goes, Luctor et Emergo (or “Struggle and Emerge”).
Brennan Turner is originally from Foam Lake, SK, where his family started farming the land in the 1920s. After completing his degree in economics from Yale University and then playing some pro hockey, Mr. Turner spent some time working in finance before starting FarmLead.com, a risk-free, transparent online and now mobile grain marketplace (app available for iOS & Android). His weekly column is a summary of his free, daily market note, the FarmLead Breakfast Brief. He can be reached via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (1-855-332-7653).