commodity crops

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.

Corn vs. soybean race for U.S. dominance could be a squeaker

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.

Soybeans to tie corn in 2018 on way to becoming top U.S. crop

For decades, corn has been the most widely planted U.S. crop. But the era of “king corn” is ending and the reign of soybeans, the versatile oilseed and the more profitable crop, is dawning, said the Agriculture Department in its 10-year agricultural projections.

Leave NAFTA nuclear option on the shelf, say U.S. ag groups

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."

Three USDA reports this week will frame the ag sector outlook

In back-to-back-to-back reports, USDA economists will paint a numerical picture of the U.S. farm sector this week, with estimates of farm income, ag exports, and the output, demand and prices for 2018 crops. Most likely, they will add up to large crops, comparatively low grain prices and constrained income heading into the fifth year since the collapse of the commodity boom.

Minnesota doubles down on soybean biofuel

Minnesota ruled that biofuels will need to contain a mix of 20 percent soybeans or other renewable fuel sources, cutting the amount of emissions while boosting demand for soybeans, said MPR News. "This is an opportunity to add value to farmers' products," state agriculture commissioner Dave Frederickson said last Thursday, according to the report. "Given the fact that the first B10 mandate actually added about 63 cents per bushel, on every bushel sold, we're hoping to double that as we move into a B20 mandate."

Wheat yields better than expected in drought-stricken North Dakota

The impact of drought was readily spotted during the first day of the annual tour of the spring wheat crop, with wheat standing shorter than normal — barely knee-high in some fields, says Reuters. All the same, the yield per acre is higher than expected for a crop that is below average.

On the horizon: Huge corn and soy crops, low market prices

The U.S. corn and soybean crops will be slightly larger than expected, mammoth production that would assure lackluster commodity prices far into 2018, according to a USDA survey of growers. With normal weather and yields, the corn and soybean harvests would be the second-largest on record and would be piled on top of stockpiles that have been growing since the 2012 drought.

The Black Sea region gains stature, the U.S. loses commodity market share

Since the start of this century, the U.S. share of the world market in wheat, corn and soybeans has declined, with South America seen as the leading rival. In reality, “the Black Sea is the only area with a larger share of world production in 2014-16 than in 2000-02 for all three crops,” says economist Carl Zulauf of Ohio State University.

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