What We're Watching This Week - Nov. 14, 2016

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Bird Flu Spreads to Germany


This past weekend, German health authorities warned that the H5N8 virus, which is not known to be deadly to humans, was detected in roughly 30,000 chickens in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Germany is the eighth European country to confirm the presence of bird flu. Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Croatia have also experienced outbreaks of avian influenza in recent months. To put the outbreak in context, we checked Gro, Gro Intelligence’s data platform, and found that the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Germany, and Spain have been the top producers of broiler chicks, for market in 2016. Although it appears that the European Union is taking the necessary steps to contain the outbreak, we will watch to see if poultry producers in France, the United Kingdom, and Spain—which have been less affected—will increase their production output in the coming months in response to bird flu concerns elsewhere in the European Union.

European Broiler Chickens

Countries listed: France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom; Europe. N.B. Netherlands data unavailable in August 2016.

Thailand Rice Prices Plummet Ahead of Elections in 2017


Given that the price of Jasmine unmilled rice has slid to a 10-year low, Thailand’s military government has announced $1 billion in subsidies to support the country’s farmers. As part of the subsidy scheme, rice growers will be eligible for an interest-free loan to keep their rice in storage until prices improve. The change in government policy is coming under political scrutiny, as a general election is scheduled for 2017. While the current government is positioning the subsidy program as a short-term band-aid for growers during a period of low prices, political critics are also noting that former Prime Minister Yingluck’s political base is centered around the rice-growing regions of northern and northeastern Thailand. We will be keeping an eye on rice prices and political developments in the country.

Thailand Rice Composite Prices

Thailand Rice Composite Prices

Russian Winter Wheat Plantings Ahead of Schedule


Last week, SovEcon, a Russian agriculture consulting group, lifted its forecast for winter wheat acreage in the country, as government data shows that plantings are already 1 million hectares higher than at the same time a year ago. According to an Agrimoney report, the group anticipates that final acres planted will exceed the Russian agriculture ministry’s target by at least 500,000 hectares. While Russian winter wheat appears to be in fair condition heading into winter dormancy according to SovEcon, extreme winter conditions (deep freeze with limited snow cover) could reverse initial optimism for the country’s winter wheat crop. We will be watching climate conditions in the Black Sea region to assess whether Russia is set up for another bumper wheat crop.

Russia Wheat Area Harvested

Area Harvested of Wheat in Russia

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