As producers boost livestock output, prices will soften

Cattle, hog, and broiler chicken producers should expect lower market prices during the first half of 2018 than they saw during the first six months of this year, said USDA economists.

USDA delays, and may rewrite the rules of care for organic livestock

For the third time this year, the Agriculture Department is holding up a regulation that would give livestock on organic farms more elbow room than is common at conventional operations, and this time, it says, it may rewrite the rule, which already is a decade in the making. "We will see the department in court and are confident that we will prevail on this important issue for the organic sector," said the Organic Trade Association, which sued USDA two months ago for unlawful delay of the animal welfare regulation.

Falling value of Mexico’s peso may impede U.S. ag exports

Mexico is the third-largest market for U.S. farm exports, so the declining value of the peso "could create a drag on U.S. animal product exports in 2017," says USDA's monthly Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. The southern neighbor of the United States is the largest market for exports of U.S. pork, poultry, and dairy products, says USDA, as well as the No. 3 market for U.S. beef.

U.S farm income drops 46 percent in three years

The collapse in crop and livestock prices since 2013 will result in the lowest net farm income since 2009, says USDA. In the final estimate of the year, the Economic Research Service pegged farm income at $66.9 billion, down $4.5 billion from its August estimate and barely more than half of the record income that producers enjoyed just three years ago.

Farm groups look at Trump and see a potential ally

President-elect Donald Trump is getting a welcoming handshake from farm groups often identified with Democrats or populists, not just those touting free enterprise and low taxes. The National Farmers Union said in a letter to Trump that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, backed by many farm groups, is a threat to the rural economy, so "we hope to work with your administration on fair trade deals."

Warning signs, although farm sector finances are relatively strong

After a review of farm-sector financial indicators, economist Brent Gloy says, "Caution going forward would be appropriate," particularly for operators who are borrowing money. The commonly used debt-to-asset ratio is low, Gloy writes at the Agricultural Economic Insights blog a day before USDA updates its farm-income forecast, but lesser-known yardsticks, such as the debt-service ratio and times-interest-earned ratio "indicate that financial conditions are as poor as any seen for some time."

Report: World won’t meet goal of ending hunger by 2030

The world nearly met its goal of halving hunger by 2015, but will miss its ambitious new goal of eradicating hunger by 2030 without decisive action to raise incomes, expand food production and alleviate income inequality, says a joint report of the OECD and FAO. The new edition of their Agricultural Outlook says the number of undernourished people in the world will drop to 636 million in 2025, compared to 799 million now.

In debut, Purdue/CME barometer finds uptick in ag economy

The newly created Ag Economy Barometer will provide a monthly gauge of the sentiment of large-scale farmers, who produce the bulk of U.S. food and fiber, say its sponsors, the Center for Commercial Agriculture at Purdue U and CME Group, which operates futures markets. Some 400 large producers …

The sun could set sooner than expected on U.S. cattle expansion

Spurred by record-high cattle prices in 2014 and early 2015, U.S. ranchers are expanding their herds with plans to send more cattle to slaughter in coming months. The USDA says the number of calves is up 3 percent from a year ago and the number of beef cows is up 4 percent.

A big hill to climb for farm income

Weak crop and livestock prices combined to pull down U.S. net cash farm income -- a measure of farmers' ability to pay bills and make payments on debt -- 28 percent in 2015, the second year of falling income.