Even if talks are restarted, it seems unlikely the self-imposed deadline of a December treaty will be reached. Also in question, based on USDA's latest stocks report, is whether there will be anything left in the bin for the U.S. to trade.
Strong demand for corn and wheat is boosting both sales and prices for the grains. USDA dropped ending stocks for corn in the 2003-2004 crop years to 901 million bushels, down 80 million bushels from January's supply and demand numbers.
Supplies are being cut by strong export sales, as well as domestic demand by producers of corn-based ethanol. Analysts note that with an additional 25 ethanol plants planned to come on-line in the next 18 months, corn demand should remain strong. Winter demand for feed use also has risen.
The forecast for wheat stocks dropped to 534 million bushels, down 25 million bushels from January. That decline is due primarily to increased exports.
The soybean picture was less bullish. Though supplies remain historically tight, the projected soybean carryover of 125 million bushels was unchanged from January. Many analysts are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward beans, based on anticipation of a large South American crop and a slowdown in soy demand because of the widening bird flu outbreaks.