Despite the dour mood in the agricultural sector, prices for good-quality farmland held steady in 2019, partly because less land than usual was on the market, said Farmers National Co., a farm management and real estate company.
The world's largest farm equipment maker, Deere and Co., expects sales of its agricultural equipment to decline by 5-10 percent globally in the year ahead due to lower demand for big machinery. "Lingering trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment," said chief executive John May.
For all its Gold Rush aura, hemp farming may be more like life on the frontier, where everything must be built from the ground up, said advocates of industrial hemp on Thursday. Hemp can require a lot of manual labor to keep weeds under control, it’s hard to find processors for the crop, and marketing networks are rudimentary.
Low commodity prices and high costs are tightening the credit squeeze on the farm sector, with little expectation of improvement in the near term, according to ag bankers in the Midwest and Plains. Some farmers and ranchers will liquidate assets during the winter to stay afloat, and some highly leveraged operators will be forced out of business, they said.
For years, the United States was the indisputable global leader for agricultural exports, partly because it had a comparative advantage in farm production. But the U.S. advantage in pork, beef, corn and soybeans is waning, say two university economists, who conclude "this may have been the worst time to enter into a trade war."
Farmers and ranchers are taking out fewer loans from agricultural banks, and asking for smaller amounts of money when they need cash to pay for equipment, livestock or day-to-day expenses, said the Federal Reserve in its quarterly Agricultural Finance Databook. "Weaknesses in the sector persisted, continuing to pressure farm cash flows and agricultural credit conditions," reports the Fed.
Farmers are in line for a “top-up” payment of up to 15 percent if they received a prevented-planting indemnity from crop insurers this year due to flooding or excessive rainfall, said the USDA on Thursday.
Although most producers say Trump tariff payments will "completely or somewhat" relieve the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on their operations, farmer confidence is plummeting, according to a Purdue University poll released Tuesday. The Ag Economy Barometer, a gauge of the health of the agricultural economy, fell from a record high of 153 in July to the lowest reading — 124 — since May.(No paywall)
For nine of the 11 commodities examined by ag lender CoBank, "U.S. producers — not the importing country or its consumers — paid the cost" of retaliatory tariffs. "U.S. farms are taking the brunt of the retaliatory tariffs placed on their products, reflecting the lopsided balance of power between U.S. producers and their importing customers," concluded three CoBank analysts, who said America will pay a price in the future, too.