The windstorm that blasted across Iowa — "basically a 40 mile-wide tornado," in the words of Gov. Kim Reynolds — wiped out 9 percent of the crop in the nation's No. 1 corn state and obliterated the chances for a record-large corn harvest nationwide, said the USDA. Farmers will see notably higher season-average prices for the smaller, but still ample, crop that remains in the field.
Rural America, and farmers in particular, voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016 but have suffered rather than benefitted for it, said speakers on a "farmers and ranchers roundtable" organized by the Biden-Harris campaign. The forum, held 10 days ahead of the traditional fall campaign kickoff of Labor Day, criticized Trump for using agriculture as a pawn in the Sino-U.S. trade war and labeled him weak on ethanol.(No paywall)
Loopholes remain, but the USDA is tightening its crop subsidy rules by limiting who can collect a payment for managing a farm, historically one of its most porous definitions. The new regulation, to be published on Monday, requires people to perform at least 500 hours of management or at least 25 percent of the management work required annually to merit a subsidy check — "a very major advancement," according to a small-farm advocate.
The government's coronavirus relief programs are an important shield for farmers and ranchers battling a sharp drop in income in the central Plains, ag lenders said in a Kansas City Fed survey released on Thursday. A similar survey of ag bankers in the Midwest by the Chicago Fed "revealed the broad financial distress from the Covid-19 pandemic in rural areas."
The USDA should immediately release the $1.4 billion of coronavirus payments it's holding in reserve for farmers and change the rules — particularly on eligibility, payment limits and the deadline for applications — that are keeping aid from producers, said 28 farm and agribusiness groups.(No paywall)
Apparently due to the pandemic, the United States was running its smallest agricultural trade balance at the nine-month mark in a fiscal year, $1.7 billion, since the turn of the century, according to USDA data. The sector ordinarily is a bright spot in U.S. trade data, with annual surpluses that can run into the tens of billions of dollars.
The coronavirus pandemic may be the defining event of 2020, driving the United States into a recession and pummeling commodity prices, but cropland values in the Farm Belt have been relatively unaffected — stable to slightly softer, said the USDA on Thursday.
Farm managers, land brokers, appraisers, and other professionals attribute a modest decline in Indiana farmland values in the first half of the year, a trend expected to continue into the winter, to disruptions accompanying the coronavirus, said Purdue University on Thursday. (No paywall)
President Trump declared Sino-U.S. relations "severely damaged" and said he has "many other things in mind" beyond following up on the interim agreement that de-escalated the trade war between the world's two largest economies. Trump spoke dismissively of new negotiations with China on Friday, hours after exporters reported the largest sale of U.S. corn to China in 26 years.
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)