In less than a decade, U.S. corn, soybean and wheat fields wiped out an expanse of native grasslands and other ecosystems larger than the state of Maryland, according to a new analysis, destroying crucial wildlife habitat and spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The new fields produced lower crop yields than existing farmland.(No paywall)
Farmers and ranchers will need assistance from the federal government beyond the $16 billion in cash payments that were promised a month ago, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. During a broadcast interview, Perdue said producers will be eligible for more than the $125,000 per commodity that was proposed by the USDA.(No paywall)
Farmers and ranchers will need billions of dollars in coronavirus aid beyond the $16 billion in cash that USDA plans to disburse by June, 28 senators said in a letter to President Trump. At the same time, a band of university economists said USDA aid is weighted 4-to-1 toward producers and that the agency "should arguably show an equivalent amount of creativity to help the broader spectrum of struggling Americans with food needs."(No paywall)
Congress allotted $23.5 billion for agriculture in the coronavirus relief package, but "that amount of money will not sustain" the farm sector, said the president of the largest U.S. farm group. The sector will need "a whole lot more [money] than was in the CARES Act," said Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation.(No paywall)
Two months after President Trump announced a $16-billion package to buffer the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on farmers and ranchers this year, the first driblet of the money is flowing — $100 million for market development. The awarding of the funds, announced by the USDA over the weekend, suggests the rest of the program could swing into operation in the days ahead.
Cotton growers plan to expand their plantings by a sharp 3 percent this spring, taking away land from soybeans, the most prominent casualty of the Sino-U.S. trade war, said the National Cotton Council over the weekend. Meanwhile, the USDA said the soybean stockpile will double in size by the time this year's crop is ready to harvest, creating the largest "carryover" ever.
With the shutdown behind it, the USDA will begin today to clear out a month's worth of backlogged data, including major reports that could jolt commodity markets and color farmers' decisions on crops to plant this spring. Chief economist Robert Johansson said there will be one exception — the globe-spanning WASDE report that serves as a monthly crop report for the world.
U.S. farmers intend to sow 3 million fewer acres of corn and soybeans this year than in 2017, said the USDA. The surprising development could draw down overly abundant U.S. stockpiles and bolster weak commodity prices.
The contest between corn, the longtime leader, and soybeans to be the most widely planted U.S. crop may be closer than initially thought, said USDA chief economist Robert Johansson, speaking at the agency’s annual Ag Outlook Forum.
Commodity prices will fall and export sales will be lost if the Trump administration withdraws from NAFTA, which generates one-third of U.S. agricultural trade, said U.S. farm and agribusiness groups in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. With farm income down sharply, "2018 would be an especially damaging time to lose America's two largest food and agriculture product markets."