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3 Big Things Today, September 7
1. Soybeans Higher Overnight on Export Sales, Corn, Wheat Little Changed
Soybeans gained in overnight trading, while corn and wheat were little changed.
Futures were underpinned on signs of demand for U.S. supplies. In the past two days, the USDA has reported sales of 136,000 metric tons of soybeans to China and two shipments of corn to Mexico – one for 143,650 tons and one for 253,300 tons.
All of the sales are for delivery in the marketing year that started on September 1, the USDA said.
Hurricane Irma is being watched as investors wonder what the storm will do to crop. If it hits Florida, it likely will move into the Delta, which could delay the harvest there or flood fields, analysts have said.
Soybean futures for November delivery rose 5¢ to $9.76 a bushel. Soy meal gained 50¢ to $309.20 a short ton, and soy oil futures added 0.41¢ to 35.97¢ a pound.
Corn futures for December delivery fell a penny to $3.60 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Wheat for December delivery rose ¼¢ to $4.46 a bushel in Chicago, while Kansas City futures gained ½¢ to $4.49¼ a bushel.
2. Goodlatte Plans Bill to Revamp Guest Worker Program, Replace H-2A
Few industries see the ramifications of immigration policy as much as agriculture.
On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican, said in a guest editorial on farmpolicyfacts.org that he wants to revamp the agricultural guest worker program in the U.S.
Goodlatte notes that the H-2A program is “expensive, flawed and plagued with red tape” and that it should help producers who want to pay a fair wage for legal, dependable immigrant labor rather than punish them.
To that end, the former House Agriculture Committee chair said he will introduce the so-called Agricultural Guestworker Act, or AG Act, that is designed to improve the program allowing immigrants to work in the agriculture industry. The new legislation also will be designated the H-2C program.
“The AG Act will allow experienced unauthorized agricultural workers to continue working in agriculture by joining the H-2C guest worker program so that they can participate legally in the agricultural workforce,” Goodlatte said in the editorial. “The AG Act also provides farmers with much-needed flexibility. Since not all agriculture jobs require the same level of skill and experience, the bill gives employers the opportunity to invest their time training workers for specialized or hard-to-fill jobs by allowing workers to stay for a longer period of time, and it provides flexible touchback requirements.”
Immigration has been a hot-button topic since – well, since forever. It has, however, taken center stage recently after President Trump this week said he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented by President Obama. Trump also has promised to build a wall on the southern border of the U.S. and make Mexico pay for it.
The H-2C program, Goodlatte said, would give farmers, at the very least, a reliable, legal workforce since finding help has proven difficult.
“When not enough Americans can be found to fill jobs, the AG Act ensures that American farmers have access to a reliable workforce to fill positions needed to keep their farms afloat,” he said. “The House Judiciary Committee plans to move this bill soon so that farmers can continue growing our food and our economy with the assurance that their labor needs will be met.”
3. Hurricane Irma Tears Through Caribbean, Heading Toward Florida
Hurricane Irma, still a Category 5 storm, is eyeing the Florida Keys and coast after tearing through the Leeward and Virgin Islands.
Destructive wind, heavy rainfall, and flash flooding killed several people and potentially caused billions of dollars in damage to islands in the Caribbean in the past two days as the storm made landfall.
Irma will continue to move northwest today and is currently on track to move across the Straits of Florida before turning north and hitting the southeast U.S. coast sometime this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
Not too far behind that is Hurricane Jose, which, for now, is following roughly the same line as Irma did in its early days. Where and even if that storm will hit is still anybody’s guess.