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Agricultural News

American Farm Bureau Economist Provides Farm and Congressional Outlook

Tue, 05 May 2015 16:50:12 CDT

American Farm Bureau Economist Provides Farm and Congressional Outlook  With cold, wet spring weather in the forecast, one leading agricultural economist isn't worried about spring planting progress. American Farm Bureau Chief Economist & Deputy Executive Director Bob Young said in looking around the country he isn't surprised that some areas are ahead of schedule while other areas are behind in planting 2015 crops.

With the uncertainty of Mother Nature, Young finds there are some producers that haven't made their final planting decisions yet. Some of that will depend on the weather. Young said farmers shouldn't be looking at farm programs in making those decisions as he doesn't find that's where the support will come from. He recommends farmers look at futures prices, pre-book their inputs and monitor their profitability expectations. Some crops are more expensive to produce than others, so he thinks all of those factors need to go into making those final planting decisions.

In looking at the outlook for cattle producers, Young anticipates prices will decline in 2015. He expects herd expansion will continue at similar levels to 2014. With increases in pork and poultry production, he said the competition will get more intense by the third and fourth quarters. Young doesn't see there will be anyway to hold last year's third and fourth quarter cattle prices, but he said it's hard to determine how low cattle and beef prices will go.

In monitoring Congress, trade has come to the forefront with House and Senate subcommittees passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). This allows the President to negotiate trade agreements. Young said increasing international trade is important to a producer's bottom line. On the cattle side in particular, he said trade is adding $30 - $60 to each animal in having demand for those meat cuts that are not widely consumed or demanded by American consumers.

Passing trade agreements will take time. Young said it could even a five to ten years before the full benefits of agreements are realized. Negotiations are underway for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). TTIP is a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. Right now the EU has been working aggressively making agreements with countries around the world. Young said the U.S. needs to work to keep up because the Europeans are imposing their will on other countries for hundreds of products.

"They're trying to impose that will on the entire planet and if we can't bust that lose by getting some our own trade agreements through as well as trade agreements with them, you know it's basically just going to be letting Europe establishing their will everywhere and that's not where we want to be," Young said.

American Farm Bureau continues to watch the proposed 'Waters of the United States' regulation from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. Young said American Farm Bureau has no idea what the impact of 'WOTUS' would be to agriculture with EPA expanding their jurisdiction to thousands of additional acres, ponds and ditches. He said agriculture is looking at delays in performing agricultural land practices, additional costs for permits and he finds WOTUS will create a real challenge for farmers and ranchers to do almost anything on their land.

In looking at the future of agriculture, Young said the number of young people returning to the family farm hasn't shown up in the latest U.S. Ag Census data, but he is getting more optimistic. In traveling around the country, he is finding more young people getting involved in Farm Bureau. As farm income comes down, he believes that will put downside pressure on rental rates and land prices and that will provide some opportunities for young people to get into agriculture.

"I am a little bit more optimistic today, than I was certainly 10 years ago," Young said.

Radio Oklahoma Network Ron Hays caught up with Bob Young recently in Washington D. C. during the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Washington Watch fly-in. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below to listen to the full interview.

Ron Hays interviews Bob Young, AFBF Chief Economist
right-click to download mp3


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