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3 Big Things Today, March 7

Soybeans, Corn Lower Overnight; Asian Countries Restrict U.S. Poultry Exports After Flu Found.

1. Soybeans, Corn Modestly Lower as Avian Flu Outbreak May Affect Feed

Soybeans and corn were modestly lower in overnight trading on speculation demand for feed would decline after an outbreak of avian influenza on a Tennessee poultry farm.

Several Asian countries have reportedly said they would ban or restrict imports of poultry and eggs from the U.S. after the flu was discovered. Producers and government officials have reportedly culled the herd of 73,500 birds that were in the flock and are further investigating to see if more cases are discovered.

Either way, with export bans in place and the possibility that more birds will be killed, investors may be a little nervous about buying corn and soy meal used for feed.

Soybean futures for May delivery fell 2¾¢ to $10.34½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal lost 40¢ to $333.70 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.40¢ to 33.87¢ a pound.  

Corn futures for May delivery lost 1¼¢ to $3.77¼ a bushel in Chicago.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 1¢ to $4.57½ a bushel overnight. Kansas City futures added ¼¢ to $4.74¼ a bushel.

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2. Asian Countries Ban, Restrict U.S. Poultry After Avian Influenza Outbreak

Four Asian countries said they would ban or limit exports of U.S. poultry products after a case of avian influenza was discovered on a Tennessee farm.

South Korea’s Agriculture Ministry said it is banning imports of U.S. poultry and eggs. Japan and Taiwan said they’d block products from Tennessee, and Hong Kong said it would restrict imports from the county where the outbreak has occurred, according to an overnight Reuters report.

Singapore has suspended poultry imports from parts of Tennessee and Wisconsin, other news reports said.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Sunday that “highly pathogenic” H7 avian influenza was found in a commercial chicken breeder flock in Lincoln County, Tennessee. The flock has 73,500 birds, the USDA said, and isolation is ongoing. Some reports say the entire flock has been culled.  

“As part of existing avian influenza response plans, federal and state partners are working jointly on additional surveillance and testing in the nearby area,” the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said in a statement. “The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, and USDA is working with its partners to actively look for the disease in commercial poultry operations, live bird markets, and in migratory wild bird populations.”

The outbreak comes on the heels of the worst bout of avian influenza in the U.S. two years ago in which almost 50 million birds were either killed by the disease or by producers or government agencies in a bid to stay ahead of the disease.  

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3. Red-Flag Warnings Encompass Parts of Seven Central U.S. States

The dry weather and ensuing red-flag warnings have spread throughout the middle of the country, according to the National Weather Service.

The warnings generally caused by low humidity, warm weather, and strong winds are now in effect for a wide swath of land stretching west to east from the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to central Illinois and north to south from southern South Dakota to central Oklahoma, according to NWS maps.

Relative humidity in some areas will be below 10%, while in parts of Kansas and Nebraska it’s expected from 12% to 16%, the agency said. Winds are expected to gust up to 50 mph in some area, spreading any flames that may be present.

The NWS advises that any outdoor burning in the area be avoided to prevent wildfires from starting.  

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