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254662

3 Big Things Today, January 25

Soybeans, Grains Lower Overnight; Strange Day at USDA as Gag Order Issued in Error

1. Soybean, Grain Futures Decline on Demand Concerns

Soybeans and wheat were lower overnight, with corn little changed, as investors worry about demand after President Trump said the U.S. would exit two major free trade agreements.

Traders are concerned that the U.S. exit from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a revamping or exit from the North American Free Trade Agreement will curb demand for domestic products, especially agricultural goods.

The American Soybean Association and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association both released reports yesterday saying they were disappointed in the president’s decision as the agreements provide an avenue for accelerated sales of U.S. products to partners.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 5¢ to $10.53½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal futures declined $2 to $341 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.06¢ to 35.22¢ a pound.

Corn futures declined a penny to $3.62¼ a bushel overnight.

Wheat for March delivery fell 2¾ cents to $4.24 a bushel in Chicago, and Kansas City futures declined 1¾ cents to $4.40 a bushel.

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2. Strange Day at USDA as Gag Issue Ordered … Or Not

It was a strange day at the Department of Agriculture yesterday.

News broke early in the morning when Buzzfeed broke a story that said the bosses at the department had issued a gag order, telling employees at the Agricultural Research Service to not release any “public facing documents” – confusing on its own – including news releases and photos.

Many people couldn’t help but wonder what that meant: Would ARS reports come out as scheduled? Did it mean employees couldn’t Tweet? Would scientific studies go unreleased?

Other reporters from more-seasoned publications started receiving the email that showed, in fact, a directive had been sent by USDA’s chief of staff informing employees they were not to release any news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, or social media.

The gag order was real. Later, however, it seemed there was a miscommunication, and that the order was not set in stone.

“This internal email was released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued,” the USDA said in a statement. “ARS will be providing updated direction to its staff.”

Scientific papers would not be blocked, and the ARS said it “values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.”

A strange day, indeed.

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3. Winter Storm in Upper Midwest Moves East Into Wisconsin

The storm that dropped several inches of snow in some parts of the Midwest is moving east, heading well into Wisconsin today, according to the National Weather Service.

“Roads early this morning are mostly or completely snow covered across” much of south-central Wisconsin, the NWS said in a report.

As much as 6 inches of snow has already fallen along the Minnesota-Iowa border. Total accumulations in the region today could top 10 inches as snow is falling at a rate of about .5 inch an hour, according to the service.

Still, snow will fall at a rate of about 1 inch per hour, the NWS said.

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