Speaking yesterday at USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Virginia, USDA Chief Economist Robert C. Johansson provided a broad outlook for U.S. agriculture. Today's update provides an overview of key aspects of Dr. Johansson's presentation.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its 10-year projections for the food and agriculture sector. The report noted that, "Over the next several years, the agricultural sector continues to adjust to lower prices for most farm commodities. Although reduced energy prices have decreased energy-related agricultural production costs, lower crop prices result in declines in planted acreage. Lower feed costs provide economic incentives for expansion in the livestock sector." Today's update highlights aspects of the report that focused on corn and soybeans.
On Monday, February 13th, Patrick Gillespie reported at CNN Money Online that, "Mexico is one of the top buyers of American corn in the world today. And Mexican senator Armando Rios Piter, who leads a congressional committee on foreign relations, says he will introduce a bill this week where Mexico will buy corn from Brazil and Argentina instead of the United States."
On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City each released updates regarding farmland values and agricultural credit conditions from the fourth quarter of last year. The Fed reports, which contained concerning news for farmers, came on the heels of USDA's forecast that U.S. farm incomes will drop 8.7% in 2017, and on the same day that The Wall Street Journal ran a front page story titled, "The Next Farm Bust is Coming."
Jesse Newman reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, "U.S. farm incomes will drop 8.7% in 2017, a fourth consecutive year of declines amid a deep slump in prices for many crops."
A complex mix of agricultural economic variables help form the basis of what farmers and ranchers consider essential policy priorities. As Farm Bill conversations have already begun, today's update looks very briefly at several issues such as farm lending, production costs, commodity stock levels, and biofuels that have gained recent attention in the news.
A recent study ("Income Trends for Iowa Farms and Farm Families 2003-2015") by David Peters, associate professor and extension rural sociologist with Iowa State University, summarized current trends in farm income by type of farm operation and pointed to more specific issues regarding the importance of non-farm income to the financial picture of farm households.
Yesterday, the Federal Reserve Board released its January '17 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.
An update yesterday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta indicated that, “When Joe Boddiford is in Atlanta, 200 miles from his Southeast Georgia farm, he can operate his irrigation systems with his smartphone. Boddiford can turn on the water to a particular set of nozzles or shut it off. He can activate an underground well or monitor the entire system. ‘That gives me a lot of peace of mind,’ says Boddiford, who grows cotton, peanuts, and corn on 2,200 acres about 60 miles from Savannah."
Last month, in its third-quarter 2016 Agricultural Credit Conditions Survey, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis indicated that, "Following a trend from recent quarterly surveys, land prices and cash rents retreated from historic highs. The average value for nonirrigated cropland in the district fell by more than 3 percent from a year earlier, according to survey respondents. Irrigated land values fell 1 percent, while ranch- and pastureland values fell 5 percent, perhaps reflecting the more recent downturn in livestock prices."