By: Keith Robinson
The federal government expects the nation to grow bumper crops of corn and soybeans for the second consecutive year, adding to already adequate supplies but further holding down prices farmers will get for their productivity.
Both total production and average yields per acre nationally for corn and soybeans could set records, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Tuesday (Aug. 12).
Nationwide, farmers are projected to produce 14 billion corn bushels, eclipsing the previous record of 13.9 billion of last year, and a record 3.82 billion soybean bushels, up from last year's 3.29 billion.
"The markets were expecting huge crops, and the report certainly supports that assessment," said agricultural economist Jay Akridge, Glenn W. Sample Dean of the Purdue University College of Agriculture. "Overall good weather across the nation has provided just about ideal growing conditions."
Akridge, an agricultural economist, moderated a Purdue Extension panel discussion of agriculture experts who analyzed the USDA's August Crop Production Report, the first projection of 2014 crop yields for the fall harvest. Panelists were Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture; Chris Hurt, Extension agricultural economist; Bob Nielsen, Extension corn specialist; Shaun Casteel, Extension soybean specialist; and Greg Matli, the NASS's Indiana statistician, who gave a report on the projections.
While the total production signals a bounty of corn and soybean supplies that will provide enough product for livestock and ethanol producers and eventually help to moderate increases in food prices, futures prices for both crops have dropped to their lowest levels since 2010 — corn below $4 per bushel and soybeans under $11. Prices that farmers will receive could fall so low that they would trigger payments to farmers under provisions in the new farm bill.
"Prices are one of the things that isn’t so positive in this report," Hurt said. "The revenues will be down sharply this year."
He added that crop farmers’ incomes could fall 25% to 30%.
The bounty of crops, however, will be good for businesses such as grain elevators, processors and livestock producers who will benefit from the lowest prices they've seen in a number of years.
Preceding the panel discussion, the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture and Indiana Farm Service Agency held a conference to explain financial implications for crop farmers under the 2014 farm bill and the choices they would have for financial protection.