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Agricultural News

Fewer Crop Acres in Years Ahead Because of Chronically Low Farmgate Prices- USDA

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 08:36:33 CST

Fewer Crop Acres in Years Ahead Because of Chronically Low Farmgate Prices- USDA Farmers will scale back plantings of the eight major field crops by nearly 5 percent - a total of 12.3 million acres - over the next five years in response to sustained, lower commodity prices, projects the Agriculture Department. The biggest cutbacks would be in wheat, down 8 percent, and soybeans, down 7 percent, from this year's levels. Corn, the most widely grown crop in the nation, would drop by 1.5 percent.

With lower market prices, farmers will take less-productive land out of crop and shift higher-yielding land into crops with the best potential for profit. The 258.5 million acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, barley, oats, rice and upland cotton planted for harvest this year would contract to an eight-crop total of 246.2 million acres in 2019. Nonetheless, hefty corn, wheat and soybean supplies are expected.

USDA released its long-term "baseline" projections this week- ahead of its annual Outlook Forum, to be held on Feb 19 and 20.  The projections reflect conditions in mid-November. USDA will release later its projections of farm income, food inflation and international crop developments. It has forecast a 21 percent drop in net farm income this year because of a large decline in crop revenue, offset somewhat by sky-high cattle, hog, poultry and dairy prices. Click for the projections as found on the USDA website.

Corn, soybeans and wheat fetched record prices following the drought-shortened 2012 harvest - $6.89 a bushel for corn, $14.40 for soybeans and $7.77 for wheat. They slid downhill as a result of bumper crops in 2013 and this year.

For wheat and soybeans, the skid is expected to continue. Soybeans, second in plantings to corn, are projected to sell at the farm gate for $8.50-$9.20 per bushel over the next five years, compared to the season-average $10 forecast for this year's record-large crop. Wheat, forecast for an average $6 this marketing year, would bottom out at $4.65 in 2016/17 and recover to $4.85 in 2019/20.

By comparison, corn prices, like projected plantings, would be stable at roughly $3.50 a bushel for the five-year period. The average price would drop to $3.40 a bushel for the 2015 crop, USDA said, following two record-setting crops in a row.

Sowings of upland cotton would drop by 900,000 acres, or 8 percent, during the five-year period and rice would hold steady at 3 million acres.

The picture is slightly different for 2015. Burdened by a huge stockpile and low prices, corn plantings would drop by 3 percent, or 2.9 million acres, while upland cotton loses 1 million acres, or 9 percent, and wheat and soybeans see marginal declines, according to USDA. The eight-crop total would fall by 1.5 percent.

High beef prices would encourage a slow expansion of the cattle herd but tight beef supplies for the next couple of years. Pork and broiler chicken production would surge for the next couple of years as high market prices subside gradually.

(includes parts of story reported by Chuck Abbott of the Food and Environmental Reporting Network)



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