The R-Brief Vol. 6

Grain Markets

Canola prices have rebounded slightly after falling below $460 CAD/mt last week, and are now trading around $470 CAD/mt.

Soybean prices have risen slightly in the last few trading sessions, making their way back above $880 USD/bu after briefly falling to around $860 USD/bu.

Wheat prices continue trade in a tight range between $460 and $470 USD/bu.

Agriculture in the News

The Syngenta Sweepstakes. Months after a failed takeover bid by Monsanto, Syngenta, the world's largest seller of crop protection products, has agreed to be purchased for 43 Billion dollars. The buyer is state-owned Chinese chemical giant ChemChina, and the deal stands as the largest ever foreign acquisition by a Chinese firm. The deal is less about one company purchasing another company, and more about the world's second most populous nation securing its future food supply. Read more about the Syngenta sale, here.

India needs to step up it's game.  One Indian economist thinks the Syngenta buy is further proof of how China is much more aggressive than India on agriculture- even when both countries face strikingly similar issues. Read that story here.

It's not over until we say it is.  Read here about how Monsanto might be planning to collaborate with other industry players in a last-ditch attempt to counter the deal.

One dollar of electricity per day. That’s all a greenhouse in the middle of Nebraska is using to grow figs and oranges. The greenhouse sits four feet below the ground and relies on natural geothermal energy to keep temperatures high enough to protect it's produce. Read more about how this geothermal greenhouse works, and how selling the design has become the creator's main business here

Moving to the agrihood? An interesting real estate trend is gaining traction in North America, where groups of residential homes are built around community farms. Dubbed "Agrihoods," the concept takes eating fresh initiatives like "buy local" and "farm-to-table" to a whole new (and literal) level by putting homeowners directly on the land that will grow their food. Read more about the concept here, and about how it’s coming to Canada here.

A 38-year old farmer is facing charges in Saskatchewan related to the theft of more than $1.2 million worth of farming equipment. The RCMP and local police executed a search warrant on Feb 11, recovering multiple stolen tractors, hay balers, trucks, and a variety of other farm equipment- all allegedly stolen from people and dealerships in Saskatchewan. The accused faces 29 charges, and is due in court on April 14th. Read that story here.

...But there's more! The accused was actually featured in a lengthy expose' related to his family farm's 75th anniversary just last March. The story (which you can read here) has been updated with information on his arrest, but ends by noting "he is presumed to be innocent". It is unclear whether that last statement is based on insider information related to the case, or simply as a reminder that everyone deserves a fair trial.

From Russia, With Loathe. As of February 15th, Russia has instituted a complete ban on all US-based corn and Soy imports. Russia, one of the roughly 30 countries that have banned Genetically Modified crops, is claiming that they cannot trust any American shipments of soy or corn. According to Russia's food safety regulator, corn imported from the US is often contaminated with either Genetically Modified material and/or microbial diseases- and therefore a risk to Russian agriculture. Read more about this decision here, and this story from December about Russia's plans to become the world's leading supplier of non-GM Food.

Technology

Google killed a secret automated vertical farm project. This according to Astro Teller, the head of Google's secretive "X-unit"- who revealed details about the failed project at the TED2016 conference. Teller admitted that his team had made "progress in automated harvesting and efficient lighting technology" and "managed to grow some greens," but ultimately ended the project because "the lab couldn't grow staple crops like grains and rice". Read more about the failed undertaking and how the x-unit chooses it's unique projects, here.

 

Richard RubensteinComment