Friday, 23 January 2015

The weeks agri-news from Russia and Ukraine

Russia approved a draft law which prohibits the cultivation and breeding of genetically modified plants and animals, except for the use for scientific research and prohibits the import of GM products including feed and raw materials.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Russia does not intend to bring GMO production into the domestic market and a senior official from the minister of agriculture provided a balanced view by saying we don’t want to poison our citizens.

The official position is they are trying to improve state regulation of genetic engineering although how this much this is influenced by the main owners of the $50 billion GM global seeds market being American is anyone’s guess.

Reports this week that EU pig meat exports to Russia could resume might be a little premature.

They stemmed from a meeting at the International Green Week in Berlin between the EU Commission, several European countries and the Russian veterinary authority Rosselkhoznado. 

With no trade issues to talk about what else were they going to discuss?

Russian government advised growers that state support would be withdrawn from producers who do not sell grain in an attempt to encourage trade during a period of low domestic prices.

Some of this low priced trade will be purchased by the state who created the current low prices by restricting exports.  Nice.

Bulgaria and Macedonia joined the growing list of countries along with the UK dairy group First Milk in blaming a large part of their agricultural problems on the Russian food embargo. 

Russia’s self-imposed food import ban has had an impact but has only been in place for five months while the root of many of the sectors financial issues can traced back years.

China are demanding Ukraine refund $3 billion for grain order placed in 2012 which was not delivered.

Ukraine said they won’t be able to supply the grain because they don’t have it citing a shortage of combiners, adjusters (?), mechanics and farm-machinery operators required to grow the crop as they are all now in the army.

There is more to this than a shortage of technical staff but it does highlight a problem with the availability of working age men for the planting campaign as they are conscripted or are in hiding trying to dodge conscription.

Ukraine Minister of Agriculture, Oleksiy Pavlenko, met with EU Ag Commissioner, Phil Hogan to discuss increased quotas for Ukrainian agricultural commodities and the possible their cancellation.  

It's unlikely this would happen any time soon but it would certainly fit with the EU Ukraine policy of support.  If quotas were cancelled that would make Ukraine grain very competitive in the EU market.

Don’t say I didn't warn you.

APK’s Rodion Rybchinskiy said statements on winter seedings condition in mid-January are speculative and it’s impossible to provide clear outlook until February. 

I agree except I would suggest March and probably the end of March is the earliest we can realistically get a good look at post-winter crop condition in most FSU regions.

So here's my mid-January statement; I'm hearing reports from parts of Russia with little snow cover of brown and dead wheat fields.

I wouldn't read too much in to it at this stage but it looks like we might see elevated levels of winter kill in exposed regions.