Brazil Soybean Planting Advances

Planting of Brazil's 2001-2002 soybean crop topped the halfway mark this week and remained ahead of the five-year average, according to Brazilian marketing consultant Safras & Mercados.

Safras pegged planting progress at 53% as of Friday, up from 32% a week earlier and the average of 51%.

Forecasts call for net drying to occur in southern Brazil over the next week to 10 days, which should favor fast planting progress. More rain will be needed by a week from now, however, to keep conditions favorable.

Regular showers are expected across Brazil's northern growing areas, maintaining favorable crop conditions there.

Revised Harkin Subsidy Plan Passes

The Senate Agriculture Committee Thursday approved a revised crop subsidy plan offered by Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa that would spend more money over the next five years that the House farm bill.

Harkin on Wednesday dropped his efforts to cut crop subsidy payments to producers and scaled back plans to spend more money on conservation.

Faced with continued opposition to his original subsidy plan from both southern senators and northern Plains senators, Harkin instead offered a revised plan that would boost spending on crop supports by $26.6 billion over five years -- $1.4 billion more than would be spent under the farm bill passed by the U.S. House.

The revised subsidy plan was approved by the agriculture committee by a vote of 12-9.

The new Harkin subsidy plan would increase price guarantees for producers and include a new $300 million per year dairy subsidy plan. Harkin also gave up his efforts to more tightly cap subsidy payments.

The new plan would offer counter-cyclical payments to producers if a "safety net" price set for a crop was greater than the average price for the crop plus crop subsidy payments.

The "safety net" price scheme is basically a variant of the target price system used in the House farm bill. Harkin switched away from his original plan to assure farmers of a minimum amount of revenue per acre because of complaints that it was to complex.

The "safety net price" would be $2.35 a bushel for corn, $3.45 a bushel for wheat, $5.75 a bushel for soybeans and 68 cents a pound for cotton.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.