For years, larger and larger sales of corn ethanol were almost a given. For one thing, the Renewable Fuel Standard guaranteed biofuels a share of the gasoline market, and car-happy Americans used more gasoline every year. The joyride, however, may be ending, says a University of Illinois economist.
Spring flooding in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt will have a marginal impact on corn and soybean plantings, according to a USDA survey of growers and initial tallies of flooded land. With normal weather and yields, there would be limited impact on production of the two most widely grown U.S. crops, thanks to the huge amount of cropland nationwide.
Aside from planning a 4-percent expansion of corn area, U.S. farmers aren't enthusiastic about spring planting. With little improvement expected in commodity prices, growers say they will plant fewer acres of soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, sorghum and oats than in 2018, and they'll stand pat on barley.
U.S. farmers will harvest a sharply smaller soybean crop this year, driven away from the oilseed by weak market prices and a staggeringly large soy surplus resulting from a string of bumper crops. Even so, the International Grains Council projects the third year in a row of record-large soybean production globally.
The neck-and-neck race between soybeans and corn for the title of No. 1 U.S. crop is over after one lap, with corn the victor and soybeans out of the running due to trade war with China. The USDA says corn will be the acreage king for years to come while soybeans recover slowly from the loss of sales to China, which used to buy one of every three bushels of U.S. soybeans.
Already-bulging U.S. corn and soybean stockpiles are much larger than expected, said a USDA report, compounding the effects of a trade war and bumper crops on the farm economy. Farm income this year is forecast to be the lowest since 2006.
Nearly half of the $4.7 billion in Trump tariff payments will go to five midwestern states that are the largest soybean and hog producers in the country, said a farm group analysis on Tuesday. At the same time, an environmental group challenged the USDA to explain its opaque development of the bailout package.
Stung by a trade war with China, ordinarily the purchaser of one-third of the U.S. soybean crop, farmers will switch decisively to corn in 2019, reinstating it as the most widely grown crop in the country, according to a Farm Futures survey of growers.
U.S. farmers planted nearly 2 million more acres of corn and soybeans than they planned in late winter, but soybeans, for the first time in 35 years, will be the most widely grown crop in the country, said the USDA's annual Acreage report. The soybean harvest could be the second-largest ever and corn the third-largest, assuming normal weather and yields.