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3 Big Things Today, March 20

Crop Futures Little Changed Overnight; Some 65 of 93 Nebraska Counties Under Emergency.

1. Crop Futures Little Changed on Trade Uncertainty

Crop markets have been consistently slow in recent weeks as the trade talks between the U.S. and China continue to drag on.

Some news was reported yesterday, but reports were conflicting. Bloomberg News reported that U.S. officials were concerned that China would walk back some of the concessions it made as Washington wouldn’t give assurances that tariffs would end.

Other reports later said that negotiators from the world’s two largest economies were close to sealing a trade deal that would end the tit-for-tat tariffs the countries have imposed on each other.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Bloomberg Television earlier this week that an agreement will be signed “hopefully soon.” Officials have been dealing with nontariff barriers including biotechnology and enforceability rules that outline consequences for noncompliance, he said.

President Donald Trump said last week that he was in no hurry to close a deal, for which a March 1 deadline came and went.

Soybeans for March delivery fell 1¾¢ to $9.02¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal lost $1.30 to $309.50 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.12¢ to 29.36¢ a pound.

Corn for March delivery rose ¼¢ to $3.71½ a bushel in Chicago.

Wheat for March delivery gained ½¢ to $4.57 a bushel, while Kansas City futures added 3½¢ to $4.39¼ a bushel.

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2. Vice President Pence Visits Nebraska as 65 of State’s 93 Counties Under Emergency Declarations

Vice President Mike Pence visited Nebraska yesterday, calling flooded areas “the heart of the Heartland” and thanking first responders for their work during the deadly floods.

Three people have been reported killed so far, including an 80-year-old woman who rescuers were unsuccessful in reaching despite reported numerous attempts.

The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said in a statement late Tuesday that the total of cities making emergency declarations now stands at 75. Some 65 counties are under emergency declarations, composing almost 70% of the state’s 93 counties.

Recovery, however, is starting in some areas, NEMA said.

Farmers who have lost machinery or livestock are encouraged to reported losses to the Farm Service Agency office. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives are in Lincoln and will work with NEMA on an expedited declaration of emergency to the White House.

“We have not had a disaster that has been this widespread in the state, I don’t think, ever,” Governor Pete Ricketts said in the NEMA statement. “We’ve had disasters where we’ve had a greater loss of life, but as far as how many places have been touched by this, I don’t think there’s ever been a disaster this widespread in Nebraska.”

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3. Flood Warnings Continue in Nebraska, Also Affecting Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas

Flooding continues in Nebraska, but it’s not just the Cornhusker State that’s seeing overflowing rivers and tributaries this morning.

Warnings have been issued across much of Iowa, parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, as well as a few areas on other states, according to the National Weather Service.  

Along Iowa’s eastern border, the Mississippi River at Burlington was at 19.5 feet as of early Wednesday morning, well above flood stage of 15 feet, the NWS said in a report. The river at Burlington is expected to crest at 19.7 feet on Sunday morning and begin falling.  

At Keokuk, the river was at 19.3 feet as of 2 a.m., the agency said. Flood stage was at 16 feet, and the Mississippi will top out at 19.9 feet on Saturday night before starting to recede.

Farther south, near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the river isn’t expected to crest until late next week. The Mississippi River is now at 37.6 feet, topping flood stage of 32 feet in the town, and will continue to rise to 40.5 feet by Wednesday, March 27, the NWS said.

“At 42 feet, several homes and structures in southern Cape Girardeau County may be inundated or cut off due to backwater flooding from the diversion channel,” the agency said. “Evacuations may be required. Thousands of acres are flooded.”

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