High commodity prices, due in part to warfare in Ukraine, will propel U.S. net farm income to a record $160.5 billion this year, despite a steep climb in expenses, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. Farm income, a gauge of profitability, would be 14 percent higher than last year.
Congress is on the cusp of overhauling the farm program but the top question among farmers about government action is interest rate policy, which lies outside the jurisdiction of the Senate and House Agriculture committees, said a Purdue University poll on Tuesday. Concern about interest rates coincided with the Federal Reserve campaign to squelch inflation through regular increases in interest rates.
The high food inflation rate this year will bleed into 2023, said the Agriculture Department on Tuesday, raising its forecast for the new year to 3.5 percent. It was the first adjustment since USDA economists began inflation forecasts for 2023 in July.
By far, inflation is the No. 1 issue in rural America ahead of the midterm elections, said the Daily Yonder Rural Poll on Monday. Six of every 10 of the likely voters in the survey said they would vote for Republicans in congressional races, roughly the same margin won by former president Trump in 2020; three in 10 said they would vote for Democrats.
The Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates into 2023, "and the outlook for the coming year grows increasingly gloomy," said agricultural lender CoBank on Monday. The strong dollar "will pressure U.S. exports as the global economy struggles and U.S. goods remain expensive," it said, with warfare in Ukraine injecting additional volatility into world food supplies.
Grocery prices will rise an average of 11 percent this year, the largest year-on-year increase since 1974, when prices soared by a torrid 14.9 percent, said the USDA. The monthly Food Price Outlook said grocery inflation would ebb to a near-normal 2.5 percent in 2023.
Politically conservative Americans tend to overestimate and liberals to underestimate the annual inflation rate for food, according to a poll of 1,200 consumers by Purdue University. The difference in views is 3 to 4 percentage points, said Purdue researchers on Wednesday.
Food prices mushroomed by 11.4 percent in the past year, said the government's monthly inflation report on Tuesday. August was the 15th month in a row the food inflation rate increased, starting from 2.2 percent in May 2021.
U.S. commodity growers are feeling a little better about their prospects for the coming year than they were last month, but a number of major concerns persist and overall farmer sentiment remains far gloomier than a year ago, according to the Purdue/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer for August.
More than 60 percent of consumers across the political spectrum support increasing government support for both farmers and food assistance as a response to inflation, according to a survey released last week by the University of Illinois. Liberals had the highest rates of support for both, with 90.2 percent supporting increased funding for food programs and 85.3 percent supporting increased funding for farmers, the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey found. Conservatives had lower levels of support for both, but 64.4 percent still supported increased funding for food programs and 66.4 percent, increased funding for farmers.
More and more Americans are switching to generic brands or looking for discounts at the grocery store in response to sustained high food inflation, now running at 10.9 percent — the highest rate since the inflation-plagued late 1970s. Food prices continue to rise even though the overall U.S. inflation rate has slowed notably, said the Labor Department on Wednesday.
Rising prices — especially for food — are grabbing headlines, but the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, slumping consumer demand, and supply chain disruptions are all feeding into an exceedingly muddy economic picture. Yet when it comes to food and commodity inflation, the worst may be over.
Wholesale prices rocketed by a near-record 11.3 percent for the year ending in June, said the Labor Department on Thursday, a day after it reported that consumer prices had soared 9.1 percent during same period. Food was an inflationary factor in both reports, although some analysts saw signs that the momentum for higher prices was easing.
Seven out of every 10 large-scale farmers and ranchers expect high inflation to persist into 2023 and 51 percent anticipate their operations will be worse off financially next summer than they are now, said Purdue University on Tuesday. Its Ag Economy Barometer, a monthly gauge of farmer confidence, fell to its second-lowest level since October 2016.
The supermarket tally for an Independence Day cookout is a first-hand look at inflation — up by 17 percent from last summer, with the skyrocketing price of meat a leading reason. The American Farm Bureau Federation said on Monday that data from its volunteer price checkers nationwide indicated the groceries to feed 10 people at a cookout would cost $69.68, almost $10 more than last year.
A significant number of America's biggest farmers expect this year's sharp increases in the price of fertilizer, pesticides and machinery parts to continue in 2023, said Purdue University on Tuesday. Three of every four producers polled for the monthly Ag Economy Barometer said they expected farm input costs to rise by at least 20 percent this year, while more than one-third said they expected 2023 crop input prices to be at least 10 percent higher.
From meat to milk, grocery prices galloped higher, rising by 10 percent in the last 12 months, said the Labor Department on Tuesday. It was the biggest increase in food-at-home prices in 41 years, according to the monthly Consumer Price Index report.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine will strain world grain supplies for months to come, driving up prices and inflation rates, said a panel of economists on Tuesday. "God forbid we have a weather problem this year," said Dan Basse, head of AgResource Co., who described war in the Black Sea region as the greatest supply shock since World War I.
More than half of America's big farmers expect prices for inputs such as fertilizer and fuel to soar by more than 12 percent in the coming year, a sign of inflation fears felt across the economy, said a poll released by Purdue University on Tuesday. The latest government report pegged inflation at 6.2 percent, the highest in three decades.