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Wittal: Cattle stats could pressure feed grains

Feb. 18 — It was a lacklustre trading day today. Financial markets were mixed to down slightly, the American dollar fell back a little and crude oil dropped 31 cents a barrel, closing at US$34.62.

The Canadian dollar rose 0.37 cents today and closed at US79.47 cents.

Grains tried to start off the day with some optimism but soon ran into a wall as there was no real news or support anywhere to help keep the markets up, so they drifted lower for the balance of the day.

Corn was down one to three cents a bushel, beans were down 15 to 18 cents a bushel and wheat was down two to six cents a bushel.

Canola was down $1 to $3 per tonne and barley finished down $2.90 per tonne for the day.

The focus will remain on the financial side for some time as auto sector bailouts and Chapter 11 bankruptcy concerns for U.S. businesses take centre stage. The speed of how and when these issues are resolved by the U.S. government will be critical for all markets and grains are no exception.

Statistics Canada has released cattle herd numbers and the total Canadian herd is down 5.6 per cent from last year, with cows down 6.6 per cent and replacement heifers down 9.7 per cent.

This tells me it is going to take a year or two for the cattle numbers to turn back around and this doesn’t bode well for barley and feed wheat markets going forward.

This may help calf and replacement heifer prices going into spring and summer, but it won’t help feed prices. Consider further reducing physical inventories, as I see no reason to carry feed grains forward into next year.

That’s all for today. — Brian

Brian Wittal has spent over 27 years in the grain industry, including as an elevator manager and producer services representative for Alberta Wheat Pool, a regional sales manager for AgPro Grain and farm business representative for the Canadian Wheat Board, where he helped design some of the new pricing programs. He also operates his own company providing marketing and risk management advice for Prairie grain producers. Brian’s daily commentaries focus on how domestic and world market conditions affect you directly as a grain producers. He welcomes feedback and information on market conditions in your area, such as current offering prices, basis levels, trucking premiums and special crops contracts.

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Brian Wittal

Brian Wittal has 30 years of grain industry experience and currently offers market planning and marketing advice to farmers through his company Pro Com Marketing Ltd.

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