An article on the front page of Saturday's Des Moines Register explored issues associated with corn and soybean production, prices, and farm profitability in Iowa. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released a paper last week which noted that, "Lending at agricultural banks appeared to stabilize in the third quarter of 2017, but risks in the sector have remained alongside a persistently weak agricultural economy." Today's update includes highlights from these two current news items that shed additional light on the state of the Corn Belt farm economy.
In late September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal to reduce the volume requirements for biodiesel for 2018 and 2019 under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). However, on Thursday, in a letter to several senators, the EPA Administrator committed to at least maintain current blending requirements. Today's update provides a brief timeline of some of the reaction by lawmakers, including Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), that transpired between the EPA proposal in September, to Thursday's letter from EPA.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board released its October 2017 Beige Book update, a summary of commentary on current economic conditions by Federal Reserve District. The report included several observations pertaining to the U.S. agricultural economy.
Ana Swanson reported on Tuesday at The New York Times Online that, "Until Tuesday, the North American Free Trade Agreement looked like it might be headed for a quick demise. Now, it could be headed for a slow, painful one. The United States, Canada and Mexico said on Tuesday that they would extend Nafta negotiations into next year, with the parties citing 'significant conceptual gaps' in how to rewrite the 1994 trade pact."
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) released its biannual "Livestock and Poultry: World Markets and Trade" report, which is published in April and October, and is "designed to give a snapshot of the current situation among the major players in world beef, pork, and broiler meat trade." Today's update provides a recap of some of the highlights from the FAS report, which was titled, "China’s Meat and Poultry Import Forecast 2018: Decline and Constrained Growth."
William Mauldin reported on Wednesday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, "President Donald Trump, speaking alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, opened the door to separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and repeated his warnings that the U.S. could withdraw from the pact."
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its monthly agricultural trade data. Today's update includes an overview of some observations from the data with a focus on corn, soybeans, wheat and livestock.
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to consider three nominees for key trade positions, while the Senate Ag Committee questioned two nominees for Undersecretary posts at the USDA. Today's update highlights some key points from the hearings, including issues related to agricultural trade and the Conservation Reserve Program.
Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas released its Agricultural Credit Survey for the third quarter of 2017. The Fed update indicated that, "Demand for agricultural loans overall decreased for the eighth consecutive quarter. Loan renewals and extensions continued to increase."
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) indicated in a news release last week that, "State personal income grew 0.7 percent on average in the second quarter of 2017, after increasing 1.4 percent in the first quarter, according to estimates released [Tuesday] by [BEA]." However, the release added that, "Farm earnings declined for the nation and in every state in the second quarter and was the leading contributor to slow earnings growth in many states."