Agricultural Economic Insights

Higher costs for farmers when interest rates rise

If the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, "it will mean higher costs for many producers" at a point when farm income is falling and growers are making increased use of credit, says Brent Gloy at Agricultural Economic Insights.

A cost of production advantage for sorghum over corn

Sorghum is enjoying a resurgence after years of being over-shadowed by corn, thanks in large part to large exports to China that have boosted market prices.

Cost control will be central issue for 2016 crops

The fall harvest will not begin for weeks but the USDA already forecasts a modest increase in costs of production for the major field crops in 2016, up 1 to 2 percent an acre compared to this year.

With sorghum at a premium, who will plant more?

Thanks to strong demand from China, drought-hardy sorghum is selling for a higher price in the Plains than corn, which usually is the price leader, says David Widmar. The comparatively high price is likely to lead to larger plantings.

On-farm grain storage declines as share of U.S. total

More than a decade ago, farmers began building more grain bins for on-farm storage, says economist David Widmar. On-farm storage gives growers more flexibility in terms of when to sell their grain.

Farm income – a big decline to get back to normal?

U.S. farm income is on the express elevator going down, according to a quick review of USDA forecasts. It expects a 32-percent decline in net farm income this year, to the lowest level since 2009.

Older farmers control one-third of U.S. farmland

The largest bloc of U.S. farmers, those aged 65 and over, owns or leases one-third of the 980 million acres of farmland in the country, writes economist David Widmar, adding, "How the land held by older producers is transferred, and the timing, will have major implications for the industry."

Rising age of farmers seen leading to larger farms

"One of the best-known trends in American agriculture is the aging farmer," writes David Widmar at the blog Agricultural Economic Insights, suggesting one result will be increased concentration of farmland ownership.

Northern Plains grow a lot more grain than they used to

A huge increase in grain production in the Northern Plains over the past decade is an unspoken factor in the transportation snarls reported in the region, says economist David Widmar in the blog Agricultural Economic Insights.

Machinery costs on the rise as commodity prices fall

During the agricultural boom that started in 2006, farm income zoomed and many producers upgraded their equipment. Data from two major farm states, Illinois and Kansas, shows the impact of the expenditures.

Less idle land, more land for growing crops

Since 2007, enrollment in the long-term Conservation Reserve is down by 9.9 million acres; in fact, the 26.8 million acres in the reserve in 2013 was the smallest amount since 1988, writes economist David Widmar at the blog Agricultural Economic Insights.

Are older farmers a sign of multi-generational operations?

One of the most-reported statistics about American agriculture is the rising average age of farmers - 58.3 years in the 2012 Census of Agriculture, an increase of 1.2 years from the 2007 census, writes economist David Widmar at the blog Agricultural Economic Insights.

Low commodity prices put pressure on farmland prices

If the low commodity prices persist into the future - a widespread concern - "it is becoming clear...there will be pressure on farmland values to end their upward march and likely fall," says Brent Gloy at the blog Agricultural Economic Insights.

US tractor and combine fleet is much newer than usual

Farmers modernized their tractors and combines during the agricultural boom that started in 2006, says analyst David Widmar at the blog Agricultural Economic Insights.

Interest rates, the next threat to farmland prices

With sharply lower commodity prices at hand, "one of the key supports for sky high farmland values is changing rapidly," writes economist Brent Gloy at the Agricultural Economic Insights blog.

“We’re from Iowa, that’s where the corn yields grow”

The refrain of "The Iowa Corn Song" - " We're from I-o-way, I-o-way, That's where the tall corn grows" - could be rewritten to say, "That's where the corn yields grow."