With Trump tariff payments boosting Corn Belt farm revenue, farmer confidence shot to its highest level since last June, just before the trade war began against China, said the monthly Ag Economy Barometer published by Purdue University. Producers polled by Purdue said they expect ag exports to increase in the years ahead, an indirect sign they expect a beneficial resolution with China.
The Sino-U.S. trade war, which as stymied U.S. farm exports, "is going to be a long one, and we keep delivering the message, 'We're with you, Mr. President,'" said the leader of the largest U.S. farm group on Sunday, adding a caveat. "The runaway of our patience is going to be determined by the financial situation of our farms. We went into the battle very weak." (No paywall)
There are many challenges facing rural America, said the new House Agriculture chairman, Collin Peterson. "There is a new farm bill to implement, a growing economic storm in farm country to address, and the ongoing harm of a trade war to alleviate, not to mention the range of unforeseen issues that will test the mettle of the people we’re here to serve," said Peterson in a statement over the weekend.
Federal meat inspectors would report to work as usual and the SNAP and WIC programs would stay in operation if there is a partial government shutdown at the end of this week, according to a USDA plan developed for the brief shutdown early this year. Offices running the farm program would be closed, which probably would mean that Trump tariff payments would be delayed until the government opened again.
Few farmers—only 13 percent—surveyed for the Ag Economy Barometer said they expect farm profitability to improve in the year ahead. "There remains an undercurrent of concern about the farm economy among producers," said the Purdue economists who oversee the monthly gauge of farmer confidence on Tuesday.
U.S. farm income will be slightly higher than expected this year due chiefly to $4.7 billion in Trump tariff payments that will buffer the impact of trade war on commodity prices, says the USDA. With the bailout, farmers are forecast to collect $13.6 billion in direct farm payments, the largest amount in 12 years.
Across the Farm Belt, ag bankers forecast a continued decline in farm income as winter arrives, reported four regional Federal Reserve banks on Thursday. Low commodity prices worry farm lenders, and a Minnesota banker said that the “trade war needs to be resolved to provide stability for customers.”
These are grim times in farm country, according to a Purdue University poll: One-half of farmers say their farm's financial condition is worse than a year ago and, for the third month, more than 70 percent said the trade war will reduce their net income this year. An equally large share of farmers expect hard times for the ag economy in the year ahead, according to the Ag Economy Barometer released on Tuesday.
Corn may be more profitable than soybeans in 2019, but that isn’t saying much about the outlook for midwestern farmers, say a pair of agricultural economists from the University of Illinois.
With commodity prices dropping and farm income projected to plummet, America’s farmers are growing increasingly anxious over the lack of specifics about how much money they’re going to get, and when they’re going to get it, from President Trump’s $12-billion bailout, reports The Wall Street Journal.