Partly because food is indispensable, agricultural trade has been remarkably robust despite the disruptions of the pandemic, said Ohio State professor Ian Sheldon during the university's annual agricultural outlook conference. Inventories of key staples are at high levels worldwide so "there's no reason why a health crisis turns into a global food crisis," he said.
A resurgent U.S. economy will grow at its fastest pace in two decades after this year's coronavirus slowdown, helping to boost commodity prices almost across the board, said the USDA in its first projections for 2021. Growers will harvest a record-large crop of soybeans and the crop will sell for an average $10 a bushel for the first time in seven years, thanks to strong demand.
With its new offer of $14 billion in coronavirus relief, the Trump administration could spend $50 billion — quadruple the cost of the auto industry bailout — in less than three years to buffer the impact of trade war and pandemic on agriculture. Farm groups welcomed the second round of coronavirus assistance while critics said it was "old-fashioned vote-buying" ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
The expected six-month review of the Sino-U.S. trade agreement failed to materialize on Saturday but President Trump expressed satisfaction with the increasing pace of farm export sales to China. During a news conference, Trump said, "China has been buying a lot of — a lot of things, and they're doing it to keep me happy but they're dreaming about Joe Biden."
The 2018 farm law allows an additional 3 million acres into the land-idling Conservation Reserve, partly to offset the low market prices that followed the collapse of the commodity boom earlier this decade. Lawmakers may opt for another expansion of the reserve if farmers face mountains of surplus grain and continued low prices, said two University of Illinois economists.
If 2019 was stressful for farmers and ranchers, with low commodity prices and bad weather for crops, the coronavirus crisis is compounding the economic challenges this year, said three Federal Reserve banks in recently released quarterly reports. (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 will get cash payments of up to $250,000 apiece — possibly more, depending on the rules — to survive an estimated 20-percent drop in farm income this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump announced $16 billion in direct agricultural aid and said additional money might be be spent this summer to bolster the sector.(No paywall)
The government could spend $25 billion, or more, to help the farm sector survive the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic slowdown, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. If that happens, the administration will have spent more than $50 billion in three years to mitigate the impact of catastrophic disease and trade war on U.S. agriculture. (No paywall)