commodity crops

Claim: Farm bill debate pits conservation vs. commodities

The current tug-of-war among lawmakers for farm bill funding "offers a case study" of the long-running tension between conservation and crop subsidies, said Jonathan Coppess, associate professor at the University of Illinois. This time, the issue is whether to shift up to $18 billion that was earmarked for climate mitigation (in the 2022 climate, healthcare, and tax law) into crop subsidies.

South would be hit hardest by USDA crop subsidy update

Growers in the U.S. South could lose $1.4 billion in farm subsidies over the next decade if Congress decides to align payments more closely with the crops they produce, said an analysis by Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “A mandatory base acre update would create winners and losers ... and most certainly complicate efforts to pass a new farm bill,” said the analysis.

CBO adds 2 percent to cost of farm bill programs

Higher enrollment in SNAP and lower commodity prices will boost the 10-year baseline for the farm bill to $1.48 trillion, the most expensive ever, said the Congressional Budget Office in an updated projection of federal spending. The baseline sets the limit for spending in the new farm bill. …

EPA issues emergency waiver for summertime sale of E15

For the second year in a row, the EPA said it would waive air pollution rules and permit summertime sale of E15 — gasoline with a 15 percent mix of ethanol — on an emergency basis, even though fuel prices are roughly 57 cents a gallon lower than they were a year ago.

U.S. farmers lean into corn, soy and wheat in 2023

American farmers will plant 7.6 million more acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, the "big three" crops of modern U.S. agriculture, this year than last, according to USDA estimates. With normal weather and trend-line yields, the result could be the largest soybean crop ever and the biggest corn crop since record production in 2016.

Farm-state Republicans consider raiding climate-change cookie jar

Without exception, Senate and House Republicans voted last summer against the climate, health and tax bill that earmarked $20 billion for USDA’s voluntary land stewardship programs, with a priority on practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate resiliency. Now, they are …

As war disrupts supply chains, U.S. wheat crop is smaller than expected

U.S. growers reaped their second-smallest wheat crop in 20 years due to drought in the Plains, said the Agriculture Department. The smaller-than-expected harvest would delay any American role in restoring grain flows disrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Link between commodity prices and inflation is weak

There is little correlation between commodity prices and inflation rates, said a group of agricultural economists writing at the farmdoc daily blog. "Current high inflation rates do not necessarily signal a continuing period of high commodity prices," they said, pointing to "plateaus" when corn and soybeans cluster around long-term price averages.

USDA to put $1 billion into climate-smart pilot projects

The USDA will spend $1 billion on climate-smart pilot projects, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Monday, delivering on a pledge made last September to help farmers develop a market for sustainably produced commodities. The demonstration projects could change the shape of U.S. farm policy, but the clock already is ticking toward the 2023 farm bill and funding for climate mitigation is not certain.

Non-family farms take larger share of U.S. land and production

America may still be a land of family farms — 96 percent of the 2 million farms in the country are owned by families, according to a new USDA report on farm types. Yet there are more and more non-family farms, and they account for a growing share of agricultural production.

Study: U.S. commodity farmers imperil biodiversity for ever-lower yields

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)

Coronavirus aid limits will be higher than initially proposed

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)

Coronavirus question: Spend more on food aid or farm aid?

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)

Economic impact of coronavirus outweighs federal help, says U.S. farm group

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)

Money begins to flow on second year of Trump bailout of U.S. agriculture

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.

Potentially more profitable, cotton takes over soybean ground

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.

After the shutdown, a deluge of major USDA reports on crops, ag outlook

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.

In a surprise, farmers to cut corn and soy plantings by 2 percent

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.

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