Aussie farm flags wheat tactic as price fears rise

download (1) JPT Capital trumpeted the call by its Australian farms to lock in firm wheat prices by selling in advance even as data showing the country’s wheat stocks at a record high raised fears for values.

The Monaco-based fund management group said that forward selling "a percentage" of the newly-started wheat harvest at prices "above current market rates" would help its Western Australia farm operations beat expectations in their first full year in its ownership.

"Despite a softening in wheat prices, we still anticipate a strong financial performance because of… forward selling," John Paul Thwaytes, the fund’s founder and chief executive, said.

Yields at its farms had also "far" exceeded long-term averages.

‘Subdued prospects’

The comments came as official statistics revealed that Australia’s bulk wheat stocks had closed the 2010-11 season, which finished at the end of last month, at a record 8.25m tonnes, up 61% year on year.

Inventories in New South Wales and Victoria more than tripled, boosted by bumper harvests last year, which fuelled the rise in the national crop to a record 26.3m tonnes.

And, with another strong wheat harvest ahead, forecast by official crop bureau Abares at 26.2m tonnes, the large stocks raised concerns over price prospects.

"Record wheat supplies should keep Australian wheat basis subdued over the coming year, particularly for south eastern markets," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.

Indeed, it was "unlikely that exports and local demand will be sufficient to clear the total wheat supply over the coming year, implying that another large carryout result is likely in September 2012".

‘Saturated market’

Mr Mathews was particularly downbeat over prospects for prices of feed wheat, available in "unprecedented" quantities, and comprising, at 4m tonnes, nearly half the carryover stocks.

The six-fold rise in feed wheat inventories reflects harvest rains last year which forced the downgrade of swathes of the crop from milling standards, means feed grain prices are "likely to remain weak compared to high protein milling wheat supplies".

If this year suffers another wet harvest, "which some weather forecasts suggest is possible, Australian feed grain markets will become saturated", he added.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology on Tuesday said that the rest of 2011 looked likely to be wet in many parts of the country, and rains are already delaying harvest in parts of Western Australia.

‘Premium prices’

At JPT Capital, Mr Thwaytes said that revenues at its farms, owned through its Agrifund, would also be protected by high crop quality.

"The wheat production in some of the farms will hit premium hard wheat grades," he said.

"Given the demand for hard wheat, we are confident we can secure premium prices for a premium product."–3765.html

Red meat exports are on the rise

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BEEF and sheep meat exports have increased considerably in the first six months of the year, according to figures released by Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales).

During the January to June period, sheep meat exports from the UK increased by six per cent to 41,000 tons while beef exports rose by 39 per cent to 68,000 tons.

The increased trade has been fuelled by a fall in production in other parts of the world, notably New Zealand and South America, coupled with a favourable exchange rate and increased marketing activity abroad, said HCC. France remained the number one destination for UK sheep meat, with shipments to Germany on the rise.

HCC’s monthly Market Bulletin, which examines worldwide trade patterns, also recorded a 21% decrease in New Zealand shipments during the first six months of the year. Volumes from Argentina, Ireland and Spain were also significantly lower.

“These are UK figures, and full year detailed results on the performance of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef in the export market will be available early in 2012, but these statistics are very encouraging,” ” said Emma Jones, HCC’s Market Development Executive.

“If the pattern continues for the full year, we are optimistic that the value of Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef exports will beat the 2010 record of £147 million.”

Agricultural imports rise 23 percent

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Vietnam saw a year-on-year increase of 22.6 percent to US$10.4 billion in the first eight months of this year in imports of material for production and processing and finished products for the farming, forestry and seafood industries.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the increase was due to a large surge in the import prices for materials and finished products used by these sectors.

Fertilizer saw the highest increase in import volume and value during the period, the ministry said. Volume surged by 31.1 percent to 2.6 million tonnes and 64 percent in value to US$1 billion.

Rubber products followed, with the country boosting imports by 40 percent in volume to 248,000 tonnes and by 56.7 percent in value to US$613 million against the same period last year. The average import price during the eight months jumped by 41.3 percent in comparison with the same period last year.

The ministry said pesticide imports had a year-on-year surge of 22 percent in value to US$412 million.

Import value for wood and wood products increased by 16.4 percent to US$835 million percent while the figure, for animal feed was US$1.6 billion, equivalent to 5.8 percent increase.

Le Ba Lich, chairman of the Vietnam Animal Feed Association, said the animal feed industry must import a huge volume of material every year for processing at an average value of US$3 billion.

Therefore, the price of animal feed was always higher here than in other countries, making it difficult for Vietnam’s livestock industry to compete with similar products made in other countries, Lich said.

Pham Tat Thang, an economic expert at the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Institute for Trade Studies, said material and product imports for the farming sector would continue in the near future because most key products in the farming sector, such as fertilizer, had to be imported.

Initially, the farming, forestry and seafood sectors should apply modern measures and technologies to produce high value-added export products to reduce the trade deficit, Thang said.

But for the long term, the farming, forestry and seafood sectors should prioritize the expansion of material production for the domestic processing sector and finished products for local consumption, he said. – VOV

CME: Pig Prices Still Down After Corn Price Rise

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US – The drought induced mess that is 2011 seasonal feedlot placements has mostly everyone trying to guess how seasonal feeder cattle prices might differ this year from normal patterns, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner.

Dr Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, offered a very good discussion of the ‘normal’ pattern and the factors that might change it this year n the 29 August edition of Drovers Cattle Network.
Here are some highlights:

  • Feeder cattle prices are usually near their peak in August and then drop the rest of the year. This is born out by seasonal price indexes prepared by the Livestock Marketing Information Center which appear at below. July actually has the highest seasonal index but the indexes for July, August and September are, for all practical purposes, equal.
  • The ten-year average index suggests a drop of about $10-12/ cwt for 525-lb. medium/large frame number one steers from August to November. The decline for 725-lb. feeders would be four to five dollars/cwt.
  • Several factors suggest that this year may be different.
    1. Seasonal patterns have changed from spring peaks to summer peaks but higher feed costs may shift the industry back towards spring peaks.
    2. Corn prices are keeping feedlot ration costs very close to the level where feeders and fed cattle have to trade at even money for cattle feeders to break even. Continued high prices of corn will limit feeder cattle premiums, especially at heavier weights.
    3. This year’s drought has changed both the supply and demand situations for this fall. Dry conditions will harm feeder cattle demand by delaying or limiting prospects for wheat pasture. That would normally put great pressure on feeder prices except for the fact that the same drought has caused significant early marketing of calves, tightening the supply that will be available this fall. Dr Peel believes that these early sales will result in little or no price pressure on fall calf and stocker prices.
    4. Finally, this year will see significant variations in normal regional patterns. Calf prices in Oklahoma are currently about 10 per cent lower than in Nebraska- a larger-than-normal spread between the two regions primarily driven by drought in the south and much better forage conditions in the north.

Bottom Line: Seasonal price pressure should be less than normal this fall, especially for calves.
Another Oklahoma State University professor, Dr Damona Doye, offers some excellent insights into the financial and management impacts that the drought might be having on southern cattle operations.
Her video interview can be found at — click on Dollar Signs and Drought.
Weaned pig producers that sell on the spot market have been hit extremely hard by high feed prices this summer.
As can be seen below, prices of these 18-12 day old, 10-12 pound pigs plummeted in April when corn prices rose and have recovered little since then.
Iowa State University estimates that these pigs have cost $40-$44/head to produce this summer so you can see that losses have been huge.
Most pigs are sold on long-term contracts and the average price of those contracted pigs has hovered near $40/head since early 2010.
But pigs on the spot market are risk with huge profits (see those $60/head prices in January?) and huge losses always possibilities. One factor that contributes to losses is that farrowing farms have no place to store these pigs waiting for a better price. When it’s time for them to go, they have to go and owners have absolutely no leverage.

Corn price rise stokes chatter of ethanol curbs

images (8) Markets are witnessing a jump in chatter about measures to curb use of corn in ethanol, even as Brazil cut the amount of the biofuel that blenders are required to mix into forecourt gasoline.

A call by Rick Perry, a Republican presidential candidate, last week for an end to the minimum level of ethanol use in the US appears to have touched a raw nerve, following the latest rally which drove prices to within 5% of record highs.

Rabobank analysts flagged the risk of the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees US ethanol use, "temporarily repealing" the mandate which enforces a minimum of 15bn gallons being sold as of 2015, while viewing such an outcome as "unprecedented and unlikely".

Chris Hurt, a farm economist at Purdue University, forecast a growing likelihood that livestock feeders – who look like in 2011-11 having been overtaken by ethanol plants in corn use – would appeal to the agency to exercise emergency powers to cut the mandate.

Without a reduction, cuts to corn usage forced by prices which hit $7.65 ½ a bushel on Chicago’s futures exchange on Monday, "will be thrust upon the non-fuel sectors, represented primarily by the domestic animal sector and exports", Professor Hurt said.

‘Severe harm’ question

The EPA can issue a waiver to the ethanol mandate if it can prove "severe harm to the economy" from enforcing the rules.

However, the agency three years ago – turning down a request by Mr Perry, governor of Texas, to suspend the mandate – flagged the "high threshold for the nature and degree of harm" needed to warrant a waiver.

Paragon Economics and Steiner Consulting said in a report on Monday that it was "unclear how the agency would arrive at a conclusion" that the mandate was indeed a substantial economic threat.

Separately, crop markets commentator Mike Pierce said: "I understand the blending rate is a law but in times of great concern, a presidential mandate can suspend… the law with a deferred congressional approval."

He added: "How can we defend the current rate of ethanol usage? [Livestock] feeders are taking a bath and exporters are seeing demand dry up."

Brazil relaxation

The jump in interest in ethanol comes as Brazil is cutting to 20%, from 25%, the minimum level of the biofuel it requires to be blended into gasoline, in the face of a disappointing cane crop, and an incentive from high prices to turn more of the harvested crop into sugar rather than fuel.

Edison Lobao, the Brazilian energy minister, said: "We realised that next year’s harvest will not be much better than the current one. So we need to act early to think of the present and the future [with] a precautionary measure."

In the US, the Senate has cleared measures to curb forthwith a tax benefit for bioethanol blenders, of $0.45 a gallon, and a $0.54-a-gallon tariff on imports of the biofuel.

Many observers expect the perks, both of which are more than 30 years old, to be allowed to lapse at the close of this year.–3538.html

Dillon Feuz: Beef demand on the rise for several reasons

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Fed steer prices in Nebraska through mid-August have averaged $112 per hundredweight this year. Over the same time period last year they averaged $92 per hundredweight. That is a price increase of 22 percent relative to last year. Is there one reason, or several reasons, for this price increase? As an economist, I am always going to look at supply and demand to try and answer this question.
Let’s begin with supply. Even though the U.S. cattle inventory has been declining for the past few years, this year the number of fed cattle marketed on a monthly basis has exceeded the prior year in four of the first seven months of the year. In two months, fed cattle marketing numbers have been about equal with last year and in only one month have the number of head marketed been lower. Through the first seven months, the total number of fed cattle slaughtered has been greater this year than last year. If everything else had remained unchanged from last year (it obviously hasn’t) then I would have expected fed cattle price to be lower rather than higher than last year’s prices.
Total beef production has also been greater this year than last year. Fed cattle weights have been greater than a year ago and that has added more total pounds of beef to the market place. Again, I would expect price to be lower rather than higher based on these supply numbers.
Let’s consider beef trade and the impact it might be having on prices. Total beef and veal imports into the U.S. are down about 13 percent relative to last year. That tends to reduce the overall supply of beef that the U.S. consumer sees at the market place. Beef and veal imports are actually down 35 percent relative to the previous five-year average. Total U.S. beef and veal exports are up almost 30 percent over last year through July. Again, if we are exporting more beef out of the country, then that tends to reduce the domestic supply available to U.S. consumers. Beef trade has been a very positive in the last few years. Our exports are up over 200 percent over the prior five year-average and we are now back near pre-BSE trade ban export levels.
So, as we consider the actual supply of beef available to U.S. consumers, accounting for domestic production, imports and exports, rather than having a supply increase this year over last year, there has been a slight decrease in supply. This would be supportive of slightly higher beef prices and be supportive of slightly higher fed cattle prices. However, I don’t think it would be supportive of 22 percent higher fed steer prices.
What about beef demand? How has beef demand held up in what seems to be a struggling national economy? It turns out that beef demand has increased this year over last year. Economists estimate that beef demand was up 4 percent in the first quarter of this year and up another 1.5 percent in the second quarter. I won’t try to explain all the details that economists use to come up with these estimates, but I will point out the two main components – which are the price of beef and the supply of beef. Retail beef prices have been up about 10 percent over last year’s prices. So, why do we not say that beef demand is up 10 percent? From the prior paragraph, I documented that the total beef supply available to U.S. consumers was actually lower this year when trade is considered. A lower supply would lead to higher prices, if everything else was unchanged. Therefore, in the current situation some of the 10 percent increase in beef prices in attributable to a decrease in supply, and the remainder is attributable to an increase in domestic beef demand.
What does an increase in beef demand really mean? It essentially means that at least some U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for the same amount of beef they consumed last year, or perhaps some are actually consuming more beef and at higher prices. That is a simplified description, but hopefully you get the point.
I don’t know how it is in your neighborhood, but in many locations the steak restaurant chains are struggling a little in this economy. If that is the case, how is beef demand stronger? It turns out that except for a few people who buy locker beef, most U.S. consumers don’t have a demand for beef, but they have a demand for various beef products: steaks, ribs, roasts, ground beef, etc. Is the demand for each of these beef products the same? The short answer to that question is no. If you consider that we really have not changed how we cut up a beef in the last year, then the relative proportions of cuts should be about equal from last year to this year. However, prices for different beef cuts have been significantly different from year to year.
If we use the price for ribeye to represent the high value cuts from beef, we can see that prices this year for ribeye have been about equal to last year and about 5 percent lower than the previous five-year average. That does not sound like an increase in demand for beef steaks. However, looking at the prices for chuck, round and boneless trim; those prices have been up almost 20 percent over the prior year. That sounds like an increase in demand for lower value beef cuts.
So, what it appears that consumers are doing in this struggling economy is rather than buying a cheaper protein source, such as chicken, to substitute for steak, they are buying cheaper value cuts of beef and more ground beef. This is really a good sign for the beef industry. It appears that consumers are remaining loyal to their beef purchases.
Now going back to the original question – why are fed steer prices 22 percent higher this year than last year? I would say the two main reasons are a very positive beef trade (more exports, fewer imports) and a strong U.S. beef demand. That beef demand is particularly strong for lower-valued beef cuts, which actually make up the largest share of the beef carcass.

Agricultural exports rise 33.4% in seven months


Rubber is one of Vietnam’s leading exports. ( Image: VnEconomy )

Among the country’s key agricultural exports, coffee gained the most with a turnover of US$2 billion so far this year, a rise of 92.6% compared to a year ago.

Pepper and rubber followed with year-on-year increases of 70.9% and 68.9%, respectively.

Rice exports in the first seven months also saw a rise in both volume (4.7 million tonnes, up 9.7%) and value (US$2.3 billion, up 10.8%).

The turnover of timber and timber products grew significantly to over US$2.1 billion, up 13.9%, attributed to a strong demand from China and Japan.

Seafood exports in the first seven months soared to US$3.1 billion, a year-on-year rise of 24.8%.

Vietnam has also imported around US$9 billion worth of agricultural products and equipment so far this year, leaving the trade surplus at US$4.9 billion.

Cattle rise ahead of USDA report; hogs higher


U.S. cattle futures rose Friday as traders squared positions ahead of a key U.S. Department of Agriculture cattle-on-feed report.

Cattle for August delivery rose 0.2 cent, or 0.2%, to $1.143 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME October cattle rose 0.1 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.155 a pound. Feeder cattle for August rose 0.4% to $1.333 a pound.

Trading was relatively modest ahead of the USDA report, due out after Friday’s market close. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires expect the report to show cattle producers added 16.9% more cattle to feedlots in July as compared to next year. A surge in placements would signal a boost in cattle supplies for the rest of 2011 and then a tightening of supplies in 2012 as producers have fewer animals to sell.

The cash cattle markets were quiet Friday following Thursday’s moderate trading activity. Sales in Texas and Kansas occurred at $1.13 to $1.14 a pound live basis, down 2 to 3 cents a pound from last week’s trading. About 14,000 head were sold on a negotiated basis this week in Texas and 30,000 in Kansas.

In Nebraska, sales of around 30,000 head were reported for Thursday at $1.81 to $1.825, mostly $1.82 a pound on a dressed basis, down from $1.85 a week ago. Live sales there were from $1.12 to $1.145 a pound, compared with mostly $1.17 the previous week.

USDA’s midday boxed beef price quote for choice grade carcasses was up 26 cents to $186.86 a hundred pounds. Select beef prices rose 70 cents to $183.84 a hundred pounds. Sales were reported at 114 total loads.

The latest HedgersEdge packer margin index was plus $51.55 a head, compared with $45.85 the previous day. The weekly average was $37.37. This is an estimate of packer returns on cattle slaughtered and processed expressed in the form of an index.


Lean hog futures also rose Friday as traders shifted positions after days of sharp losses.

August hog futures rose 1.55 cents, or 1.8%, to 88.37 cents a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME October hog futures rose 1.75 cents, or 2.1%, to 84.87 cents a pound.

Friday’s rally in the hog complex reversed portions of the steep fall in prices that futures have been riding since early August. The industry is bracing for a sharp seasonal rise in hog supplies after a summer of tighter supplies witnessed all-time record prices for hogs and futures.

Hog producers typically grow their production starting leading into fall, when consumers eat more meat and cooler weather makes for more efficient hog-raising. Slaughter rates are expected to grow 15% between this week and October.

Cash hog prices were reported steady to as much as $1 per hundredweight lower. Buyers were bidding mainly for deliveries during the second half of next week.

This week’s slaughter was estimated at 2.046 million head, down 1.3% from year ago. Some livestock dealers and analysts predict slaughter next week to reach or exceed 2.1 million head.

The terminal markets traded steady to $1 per hundredweight lower on a live basis with top prices from $67 to $71 per hundredweight on a live basis.

The USDA’s pork carcass composite value, a measure of wholesale prices, on Thursday was down 52 cents at $106.93 a hundred pounds

Colombia woes could fuel ‘sharp’ coffee price rise

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Hopes of a revival in Colombia’s coffee output may be misplaced, with the country looking increasingly likely to post a decline in output – potentially paving the way for prices to "advance sharply".

The tail-off in 2010-11 production in Colombia, the world’s second-ranked producer of arabica beans, from a bright start looks set to extend into August and September data, the last months of the marketing year, veteran analyst Judith Ganes-Chase said.

"Colombia’s main crop production, from October to March, had shown a respectable improvement from last year’s disaster," Ms Ganes-Chase, head of J Ganes Consulting, said.

"But the secondary harvest or Mitaca, has been sharply reduced because of heavy rains during the flowering period which knocked the blossoms from the trees prematurely."

‘Another supply crunch’

Output looks set to end 2010-11 at less than 8.5m bags, below last year’s 8.66m bags, on ABN Amro data, and dashing hopes that Colombia was staging a recovery towards historical production levels of some 12m bags, after successive seasons when production has been dented by poor weather.

The US Department of Agriculture in its latest estimate, in June, pegged the 2010-11 crop at 9.5m bags.

The shortfall "will tighten up availability and force buyers to have to turn to other origins" at a time when inventories in other producing countries have been run down by soaring exports.

"The market is potentially facing another supply crunch of better grades of washed arabica coffee," Ms Ganes-Chase said.

"If [Colombia’s] heavy April rains had an adverse effect on the 2011-12 main crop, then the market would have strong justification for advancing sharply."

Seasonal rebound?

The comments came as arabica coffee futures, which are traded in New York, continued a revival from 2011 low, for a near-term contract, of 231.35 cents a pound hit last week.

Besides the recovery in broader financial market sentiment, the revival has been spurred by continued fears over damage to coffee trees from cold weather in Brazil, the top coffee producer.

Prospects of a recovery in prices have been further boosted by seasonal factors.

"The market typically makes a seasonal low at this time of year under the weight of the Brazilian crop, and then starts to advance as roasters return to the market to purchase coffee ahead of the winter drinking season," Ms Ganes-Chase said.

Furthermore, regulatory data shows that coffee is one of the few crops in which speculators already hold more short positions, which gain when prices fall, rather than long bets – meaning they may be reluctant to sell down further.

Colombian woes

The latest Colombia coffee data, last week, showed output in July at 530,000 bags, falling, year on year, for a fourth successive month.

So car in calendar 2011, production has reached 4.6m bags, some 200,000 bags behind the same period in 2010.

Nonetheless, Luis Genaro Munoz, the head of Colombia’s coffee growers’ federation, said he was confident that the country would meet a target of 9m bags in output in 2011, beating 2010’s 8.9m bags.

Besides poor weather, Colombia’s output is under pressure from a replanting programme which has raised the proportion of immature trees, and an outbreak of the roya fungus which attacks coffee plant leaves, impedes photosynthesis and so lowers productivity.–3490.html

Russia grains optimism wanes, as German fears rise

tải xuống (3) The revived optimism over European and Black Sea grains production hit turbulence on Monday with trims to hopes for crops both in Germany and Russia.

SovEcon took a Russian crop of much above 90m tonnes off the agenda, after results showing a decline in yields as the harvest has headed north and east.

While yields are typically higher in south western areas, the fall this time has been marked. The harvest’s average yield dropped below 3 tonnes per hectare as of last Thursday, with roughly one-third of the crop in silos, from 3.3 tonnes per hectare a week before, official data show.

"As the harvesting area is some 4m hectares down from 2009, and average yields are expected to be in the region of two tonnes per hectare, the crop is likely to decline by around 8m tonnes from the 97 million tonnes reaped in 2009," Moscow-based SovEcon said.

The influential analysis group revised its harvest estimate to 87m-90m tonnes, from 87m-92m tonnes, bringing its forecast in line with the government forecast but below the 91m-91m tonnes expected by rival consultancy Ikar.

‘Delayed by rains’

Separately, in Germany, the European Union’s second-largest grains producer, the farm co-operatives association cut its estimate for production of all crops by 900,000 tonnes to 40.3m tonnes, highlighting weaker prospects for wheat and rapeseed harvests.

Hopes for wheat, for which an unusually dry spring has been dogged with a dismally wet harvest period, the output estimate was cut by 800,000 tonnes to 22.0m tonnes.

The figure compares with the 24.05m tonnes of wheat harvested last year. The US Department of Agriculture last week kept its estimate of this year’s output at 22.2m tonnes, while noting that harvest had been "delayed by persistent rains".

On Friday, a report from the UK grain arm of a major European commodities house noted that "it hasn’t stopped raining [in Germany] for several weeks and 80% of the crop in the north is still in the field".

Germany’s farm co-operatives association also cut its estimate for the domestic rapeseed crop by 300,000 tonnes to 4.0m tonnes, below the 4.3m-tonne-forecast from the USDA, which blamed the crop’s declining potential on a "poor start" in the autumn leaving it more susceptible to setbacks from a cold winter and dry spring.

Better week ahead?

The association’s downgrades came even as hopes grew of better German harvest weather, following the rain delays which have sparked concerns in particular about the quality of a wheat crop which is typically nearly all of milling quality.

"A break in rains forecast for Germany early-to-mid week should offer producers opportunity to advance harvest there," Jaime Nolan at FCStone’s Dublin office said.

Strategie Grains, the Paris-based analysis group, still expects 82% of the crop to be of milling quality despite the poor weather. Rains encourage sprouting, and the production of enzymes which beak down starch and gluten content.

This figure is up from 43% last year, when rain also dogged the harvest, if below earlier hopes.

Monday’s crop revisions follow a series of, generally positive, revisions for Black Sea and European grain crops over the last couple of months.

The USDA last week raised its estimate for the Russian wheat harvest by 3.0m tonnes to 56.0m tonnes, and of the EU one by 1.4m tonnes to 133.5m tonnes.–3477.html