Conspiracy Theory #1

12/05/15 -- As mentioned earlier, Russia's 2015 spring planting campaign hasn't got off to the best of starts, with 9.6 million ha sown so far, down from 11.2 million this time last year. What has been seeded represents 31% of the government estimated area and includes only 1.6 million ha of wheat, or 12.1% of "plan".

The sixty million dollar question here surely has to be is this all down to a rain-hampered start to the planting season, or are the government estimates actually really "hopes" that are far too high? Problems with lack of access to credit, high seed and input costs etc have been widely reported for some time after all.

Another point to consider is are the government actually reporting the real planting progress figures anyway? Could things be further behind than this in reality? If you can deny you've got a military presence in Ukraine then you can certainly say anything you like about planting progress and forecast a 100 MMT grain crop until the cows come home (hungry).

Meanwhile, spring grain planting in Ukraine is 78% done on 5.5 million ha, down 18% versus last year according to their Ag Ministry - another one that can be economical (or is that comical) with the truth.

Would you expect either Ag Ministry to say anything else?

Dear Ag Minister, please pick one of the following options:

"Erm, look everybody, we're in bit of a pickle frankly. Our farmers can't afford to plant what we'd like them to plant, and we haven't really got the money to give to them to do it. Also if they do managed to plant anything it'll be mostly shitty own grown seed that they found in a bag at the back of the barn. Our currency is goosed too, so input costs are through the roof. So there could be a little bit of a food shortage coming up. If I were you I'd run off down the shops right now and start stockpiling whatever non-perishables you can get your hands on. Just do me a favour and leave it until me and the Missus have sorted ourselves out first. Cheers."

"Ha, ha, ha. Everything is fine. You worry too much. There's plenty of food to go round. Just look at this picture of what I'm having for my lunch here at the Presidential Palace."

"Everything would be fine if it wasn't for the bastard Russians/Americans/EU/Germans/pro-West Ukrainians. It's them that's caused this mess, not us. They're taking the food off your plates, the bastards. Let's have a nice war against them to take our minds off it. We're all in this together. I'm just as hungry as you, you know. Look, I'll take my shirt off like the President to show you..."

I for one can't wait for Mike Lee's next crop tour of Russia and Ukraine so we can hear what's really going on.