Farm Bill Update: Perspective from Chairman Conaway and Chairman Roberts

Last week, Don Wick, a farm broadcaster from the Red River Farm Network (Grand Forks, N.D.), sat down with several lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss current Farm Bill issues.  Notably, he spoke with both the Chairman of the House Ag Committee, Mike Conaway, as well as the Senate Ag Committee Chairman Pat Roberts.  Today's update includes key elements from these lawmaker conversations with the Red River Farm Network.
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U.S. Ag Exports Remain Strong, But Global Share Declines as Destinations Have Changed (NAFTA, China)

U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year 2017 increased over $10 billion to the third-highest level on record.  Although the U.S. remains the second largest exporter of agricultural goods in the world, the share of U.S. agricultural exports has fallen from 23 percent of global value in 1995 to 12.5 percent in 2013.  Nonetheless, U.S. agricultural exports to NAFTA countries and to China have increased since 1995, highlighting the importance of these regions to U.S. agricultural trade.  Today's update looks at these issues in more detail, along with a brief update on the NAFTA renegotiations.
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Rural America: Perspective from USDA Report, and Federal Reserve Ag Credit Survey

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual Rural America at a Glance report, which summarizes the status of conditions and trends in rural areas. In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis recently provided details of its third quarter Agricultural Credit Conditions Survey, which follows on the heels of recent third quarter agricultural reports from four other federal reserve districts. Together, the USDA report and Minneapolis Fed update, provide some interesting perspective on the state of non-metro America.
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Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis: Impacts of Summer Drought in the Plains

An update last week from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis ("The worst they've ever seen," by Ashwini Sankar) explored some of the lingering impacts of this summer's severe drought in Montana and the Dakotas. The article noted that, "Recent heavy rains have brought relief to drought-stricken parts of the Ninth District, but months of dryness have exacted a heavy toll on crops, cattle herds and natural resources that is likely to weigh upon regional and local economies for months to come."
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Crop Choices, Farm Size: Changes in a Time of Low Corn and Soybean Prices

Recent news articles have documented that lower crop prices for commodities such as corn and soybeans have caused some producers to make changes to their traditional crop rotation, or to consider organic crop production methods.  More broadly, a recent Wall Street Journal article noted that larger operations may still be able to reap profits in times of lower prices, fueling "a cycle in which size begets size" and where, "smaller-scale farmers struggle to expand their operations to become profitable."
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Survey Sheds Light on Farm Profitability, While Producers Cut Costs

A  news release on Tuesday from the American Bankers Association (ABA) stated that, "Eighty-two percent of agricultural lenders reported a decline in farm profitability in the last 12 months, according to a joint survey by the [ABA] and the Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation. Despite the continued decline, the survey of more than 580 agricultural lenders revealed that the agricultural loan approval rate is 84 percent."
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Farm Bill: “Technical Adjustments,” and “Tweaks”

Jacqui Fatka reported on Friday at Farm Futures Online that, "House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said [on October 25th] that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has sped up its analysis of farm bill provisions that the committee is considering. He told reporters that the committee is still on track to bring out a bill before the end of the year or early 2018."
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