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Evening Edition | Thursday, June 23, 2022

In tonight's Evening Edition, read about world news impacting grain trade, U.S. weather, and two Senate bills aimed at livestock marketing reform.

World Grain Shipping News

Earlier this month, a Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, said Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russian had stolen from Ukraine.

Today, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the country was investigating those claims. He added the probes had not found any stolen shipments so far.

Russia has previously denied allegations that it has stolen Ukrainian grain.

The United States welcomes Turkey's involvement in brokering an agreement to get grain out of Ukraine, John Kirby, the national security spokesman, said Thursday.

"We certainly welcome Turkey's involvement in trying to broker some kind of arrangement to allow shipping of grain," he said, noting there was a blockade in the Black Sea.

As tension surrounding grain trade in the region continues, Russia may gradually switch state export taxes for grains and sunflower seeds to the rouble currency from the U.S. dollar, the Interfax news agency reported on Thursday.

"Government ministries are discussing modernization of the grain and sunflower seeds' tax mechanism to preserve profitability and investment attractiveness of the Russian farmers," the source said, according to Interfax.

U.S. weather

Continued patterns of above average temperatures are impacting crop conditions around the country. 

“Sweltering conditions blanketed the state on multiple days,” wrote Justin Glisan, Iowa's state climatologist, in his recent weather summary.

About 83% of the state’s corn crop was rated good or excellent in the latest report, along with 80% of soybeans. Those percentages are down from 86 and 82 last week.

Texas has the worst corn condition in the country, according to USDA's Crop Progress Report released June 21. Widespread, intense drought is largely to blame.

Just 32% of the Lone Star state’s corn crop is in good/excellent condition, according to the report. USDA says 11% of the Texas corn crop is in very poor condition. Livestock and other crops are also showing signs of stress.

Livestock Marketing reform

The Senate Agriculture Committee quickly approved legislation on Wednesday that would require meatpackers to buy a portion of their slaughter cattle on the cash market — a step intended to ensure fair prices — and create a USDA special investigator to enforce fair-play rules in the highly concentrated meat industry.

“Getting this legislation through committee is a big deal,” said Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a sponsor of both bills, which were cleared for floor debate by voice vote. However, five committee members voiced reservations or opposition to mandatory cash purchases of cattle. There were murmurs against the meat investigator as well.

“What I fear are the unintended consequences,” said Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, the senior Republican on the Agriculture Committee. “If we insert the federal government into day-to-day business decisions, repealing that heavy hand of the government is nearly impossible.”

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