A news release yesterday from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) indicated that, “United States Senators [Gillibrand], Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sent a letter today to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburgrequesting information about the FDA’s efforts to curb the overuse of antibiotics in food animal production.
“‘The use of antibiotics in food-producing animals must be reduced as part of the effort to preserve the efficacy of antibiotics,’ the senators wrote. ‘Research has shown that antibiotic resistant bacteria are most likely to develop when antibiotics are used continuously at low doses – the type of regimen used frequently in food animal production.’
“In their letter, the senators noted steps the FDA has taken to begin addressing this issue, including issuing guidance on inappropriate antibiotic use for growth promotion, calling for pharmaceutical companies to voluntarily remove these uses from product labels, and requiring more veterinary oversight of antibiotic use in food animals. The senators explained, ‘While these new policies are important first steps, we remain concerned that they may not be sufficient to effectively curtail the routine use of dangerously low doses of antibiotics for the duration of an animal’s life. . . . The benefits of this change will be negligible . . . if the same animals can continue receiving the same antibiotics at the same doses.’”
The Reuters article explained that, “But drought conditions in California and other states could further drive up prices of fresh produce and beef, the USDA warned.
“The agency forecast wholesale pork prices to jump by 10 percent to 11 percent in 2014, hurt by declining supplies after a virus has killed some 7 million piglets in the past year.
“Wholesale beef prices are forecast to jump by 8 percent to 9 percent in 2014, although rising imports are helping to offset some of the decline in domestic supplies.”
Friday’s article added that, “‘The ongoing drought in California could potentially have large and lasting effects on fruit, vegetable, dairy and egg prices, and drought conditions in Texas and Oklahoma could drive beef prices up even further,’ the USDA said.”
Jesse Newman and Tony C. Dreibus reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “Tumbling corn prices [related graphs here, here, and here] are sowing fears that many U.S. farmers will suffer their first losses in years and the agricultural economy could face its first sustained slump in a decade.
“Corn prices have plunged nearly 30% in the past three months to their lowest point since 2010 as near-perfect weather in the Midwest fuels expectations of a second consecutive bumper harvest. Prices of other crops have fallen sharply as well, with soybeans trading near 2½-year lows and wheat near four-year lows.”
Farm Bill Implementation- House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas
Ron Hays, of The Oklahoma Farm Report and Radio Oklahoma Network, spoke yesterday with House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) about Farm Bill implementation issues.
An audio replay and summary of the Chairman’s remarks from yesterday can be found here, while an unofficial FarmPolicy.comtranscript of the conversation with Ron Hays and Chairman Lucas is available here.
In part, Mr. Hays queried: “Let’s talk about crop insurance. I know this is kind of a sore point right now. The subcommittee that Chairman Mr. Conaway, under the House Ag Committee umbrella, had Michael Scuse in here just a few days ago [summary of that hearing here, related article from Politicohere], it seemed like the request was pretty clear to Mr. Scuse and to USDA: we need APH, actual production history, for this upcoming crop season, starting with wheat growers when they put the crop in the ground here in a matter of a few more weeks. USDA doesn’t seem to have much intention to get this done.”
Chairman Lucas indicated that, “The response that USDA gave that day, and they’ve given to me personally from the top all the way to the bottom, is they have so many things going on they can’t implement the process. But for our listeners out there, actual production history adjustment is critical when you’ve been through the kind of drought that we’ve been through for multi years in our region.
“What I’ve asked of the Department, what Mr. Conaway made the request of the Department, what I’ve asked of the Secretary is if you can’t implement it for the whole country for this coming crop year, at least look at Oklahoma and Texas and Colorado, California and New Mexico, Kansas, the places that have suffered from the drought. If you can’t implement the whole thing, at least consider doing a partial implementation in the hardest hit areas.
“Producers who have really suffered in recent years, this APH is the difference between having viable crop insurance for the coming year or not having viable crop insurance. And you’re exactly right, it’s going to be time soon to put the wheat in the ground in our region.”
Tyrel Linkhorn reported yesterday at the Toledo Blade Online that, “Two years ago, farmers in the four-county Toledo metro area collected more than $10.5 million in direct payments from the federal government, a subsidy program that had become increasingly seen as a poor use of taxpayer money.
“Starting this year, those payments disappear. In their place are federal safety-net programs that officials say will slightly reduce federal expenditures and better reflect the purpose of protecting the nation’s farmers in dire times.
“‘The fundamental political problem that direct payments ran into is a question of fairness,’ said Carl Zulauf, an agricultural economist at Ohio State University. ‘Is it fair farmers were receiving these payments when income was at record or near-record levels? We as a country decided that was not something we felt comfortable with.’”
Bloomberg writer Megan Durisin reported today that, “The U.S. soybean crop is in the best shape for this time of year since 1994, while corn ratings are the highest in a decade as mild Midwest temperatures helped boost the outlook for yields.
“Seventy-three percent of the U.S. soybean crop was rated in good or excellent condition as of July 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday. Seventy-six percent of corn earned the top rating, the most for this time of year since 2004.
“Soybean prices tumbled 17 percent in the past 12 months, while corn entered a bear market on July 3. A lack of heat through the end of the Northern Hemisphere summer will limit threats during later stages of plant development, according to Commodity Weather Group LLC. Bigger U.S. crops are helping to keep global food inflation in check, with the United Nations reporting a third monthly drop for prices in June.”
The article added that, “Soybean futures for November delivery fell 0.2 percent to $10.69 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade today. Prices reached $10.65 on July 11, the lowest for a most-active contract since Oct. 8, 2010. Corn dropped to $3.705 a bushel yesterday, the lowest since July 14, 2010.”
Donnelle Eller reported late last week at The Des Moines Register Online that, “Farmland prices in Iowa ticked higher in the second quarter, pushing up 2.1 percent, based on sales, Farm Credit Services of America said today.
“Average farmland prices bumped up to $10,172 an acre, based on 109 farmland sales during April, May and June, the Omaha-based farm credit and insurance group said. A year earlier, the average value was based on 120 sales.
“Lower commodity prices led to reports in early 2014 of more cautious land buyers and declining farmland values. But several years of record-high profitability and low interest rates continued to positively impact the farmland market through June, the group said.”
DTN writer Todd Neeley reported yesterday that, “American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said in a statement Thursday that the industry’s attempts to reach out to EPA officials have been unsuccessful on many of the issues of concern for agriculture in the proposed Clean Water Act rule.
“This comes on the heels of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s trip to Missouri last week, during which she met with farmers and gave a speech in front of agribusiness representatives, in an attempt to begin to calm the waters on the proposed rule.”
The DTN article noted that, “The AFBF released to Congress a 16-page response Wednesday evening, to a July 7 blog written by EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner, ‘Setting the Record Straight on Waters of the US,’ countering her point by point. In a news release Thursday, AFBF said that Stoner had made ‘numerous inaccurate and misleading comments’ about the proposed rule.
“One of the main concerns expressed by farmers and farm groups is that the 56 conservation practices listed in an interpretative rule released along with the larger CWA rule, essentially would narrow those practices exempt from the law by requiring farmers to follow Natural Resource Conservation Service specifications on those practices.”
The Chicago District indicated that, “The District’s corn and soybean crops made up ground after a late start to planting as favorable weather helped plants emerge more quickly than the five-year average. The consensus among contacts was that the corn and soybean crops were in excellent shape, but were unlikely to set records when harvested because of the late plantings…Hog prices moved higher as disease affected supplies.”
The St. Louis District noted that, “Over 90 percent of the District’s corn, cotton, rice, sorghum, and soybean crops were rated in fair or better condition.”
The Kansas City District pointed out that, “The corn and soybean crops were in good condition overall, and improved growing conditions led to a drop in prices for both crops. Cattle prices continued to rise, but feeder cattle prices have recently increased much faster than fed cattle prices and narrowed margins for feedlot operators. The cumulative effect of reduced piglet numbers due to the swine virus and strong export demand for pork supported further gains in hog prices, even though pork production forecasts were raised due to heavier dressed weights and higher than expected slaughter in the second quarter.”
And, the Dallas District added that, “Widespread rains greatly improved prospects for row crops, especially cotton, but came too late to aid the Texas wheat crop, which is expected to be down 20 percent this year.”
A summary of all of the ag related notes from yesterday’s Fed report can be found here, at FarmPolicy Online.
* Fifth District- Richmond- “Replanting of crops due to extended winter weather was completed and wheat harvesting finished up in the Carolinas, according to an agriculture contact. Overall, fertilizer prices remained steady, while agricultural chemical prices and crop seed prices increased slightly. Some agribusiness owners reported lower commodity prices compared to last year.”
* Sixth District- Atlanta- “While much of Tennessee, southwest Louisiana, and the southernmost tip of Florida continued to experience abnormally dry conditions, most of the District was drought free. Some areas received excessive rain causing delays in production although recent, dryer weather conditions allowed planting to continue. Regional producers benefitted from higher prices for many of their agricultural products, lower costs for feed and fertilizer, and fuel costs leveling off. Recent record- high prices in cattle and hogs were attributed both to growing international demand and to domestic supply constraints.”
* Seventh District- Chicago- “The District’s corn and soybean crops made up ground after a late start to planting as favorable weather helped plants emerge more quickly than the five-year average. The consensus among contacts was that the corn and soybean crops were in excellent shape, but were unlikely to set records when harvested because of the late plantings. Corn, soybean, and wheat prices moved down during the reporting period. More farmers than a year ago took advantage of the spring rally in crop prices to lock in a profit on a larger portion of their expected harvest. Hog prices moved higher as disease affected supplies. Farmers received lower prices for milk and cattle, yet these prices remained well above levels necessary to cover the costs of production.”
* Eighth District – St. Louis- “As of late June, District farmers had completed the corn, cotton, and rice plantings. In contrast, soybean and sorghum plantings were behind the 5-year average rate of progress in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Over 90 percent of the District’s corn, cotton, rice, sorghum, and soybean crops were rated in fair or better condition. The winter wheat harvest was behind its 5-year average rate of progress for all District states.”
* Ninth District- Minneapolis- “District crop producers made progress catching up on a late spring, but flooding due to heavy rains led to crop losses in some areas. Corn and soybean emergence rates were consistent with five-year averages, and most crops were in good or excellent condition. District producers planted fewer acres of corn and more soybeans this year, in line with expectations. The USDA forecasts solid harvests and a slight reduction in crop prices by the end of the year. Prices received by farmers fell in June from a year earlier for corn, soybeans, wheat, and hay; prices increased for cattle, hogs, poultry, eggs, and milk.”
* Tenth District- Kansas City- “Heavy summer storms in June improved soil moisture for developing crops and pastures but also caused some wind, hail and flood damage. Wet fields delayed the winter wheat harvest in Oklahoma and Kansas, and yields depended on the extent of drought, freeze and hail damage. Despite expectations of a poor wheat harvest in much of the District, wheat prices fell since the last survey period. The corn and soybean crops were in good condition overall, and improved growing conditions led to a drop in prices for both crops. Cattle prices continued to rise, but feeder cattle prices have recently increased much faster than fed cattle prices and narrowed margins for feedlot operators. The cumulative effect of reduced piglet numbers due to the swine virus and strong export demand for pork supported further gains in hog prices, even though pork production forecasts were raised due to heavier dressed weights and higher than expected slaughter in the second quarter.”
* Eleventh District- Dallas- “District drought conditions eased over the reporting period. Widespread rains greatly improved prospects for row crops, especially cotton, but came too late to aid the Texas wheat crop, which is expected to be down 20 percent this year. Most crop prices declined over the past six weeks due to expected stronger U.S. production. Pasture conditions improved and cattle prices continued to set new historical highs. Domestic demand for beef remained very strong despite record prices, while international demand for cotton remained low.
* Twelfth District- San Francisco- “Contacts indicated that drought conditions contributed to reduced production of some agricultural and resource-related goods. Contacts expressed ongoing concerns about water costs and availability. They also mentioned that it would be challenging for regulatory agencies to address issues related to pricing and prioritizing limited water supplies if low levels of rainfall and snowpack persist next year. Contacts observed reductions in herd sizes and plantings of annual crops, including tomatoes and rice. Most permanent crops, including nut and fruit trees, have not been affected yet, but some farmers may choose to reduce new plantings or remove less productive orchards. Farmers in Idaho anticipate high yields of grains, wheat, and potatoes this year. Dairy operations continued to benefit from low feed costs.”
University of Illinois agricultural economist Gary Schnitkey indicated yesterday at the farmdoc daily blog (“Range in Revenues and Returns Possible for Corn in 2014”) that, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a revised World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report on July 11, 2014. In this report, the 2014 Market Year Average (MYA) price for corn is projected to fall between $3.65 per bushel and $4.35 per bushel. Revenues and farmer returns are estimated for prices in this range given an average and high yield. Crop insurance and commodity title payments are included in estimates. Given this price range, there is about a $100 per acre range in which per acre returns can fall. Farmer returns likely are negative for cash rented farmland, given that costs are near average. Farmer returns for share rented farmland likely will be low.”
After additional analysis, yesterday’s farmdoc update stated that, “For average yields, farmer returns are negative at all prices: -$18 per acre for the $3.65 price, -$31 per acre at a $4.00 MYA price, and -$14 per acre at a $4.35 MYA price (see Table 1). Given the WASDE range, negative returns seem likely given average yields and average costs.
“For high yields, returns are -$33 per acre at a $3.65 MYA price, -$1 per acre at a $4.00 MYA price, and $76 per acre at a $4.35 price. Positive returns are possible at high yields and at prices near the high of the WASDE range. Given growing conditions to date, yields of 220 bushel are possible on many farms in central Illinois. As more farms have higher yields, however, the chance of prices in the upper end of the WASDE range decreases, as higher yields result in more supply which typically has a dampening effect on prices.”
Anthony Greder and Emily Unglesbee reported yesterday at DTN (link requires subscription) that, “Corn and soybean development was slightly ahead of the five-year averages for both crops, and the condition of the nation’s corn crop improved slightly in the week ended July 13, according to USDA’s latest Crop Progress Report.
“Corn was 34% silking as of Sunday, up from 15% a year ago and ahead of the five-year average of 33%. The crop was rated 76% in good-to-excellent condition, up from 75% the previous week.”
The DTN update added that, “Soybeans were 41% blooming, up from 24% a year ago and also up from the five-year average of 37%. The crop was rated 72% in good-to-excellent condition, the same as the previous week.”
Gregory Meyer reported on Friday at The Financial Times Online that, “Soyabean markets went into freefall after a government report lifted supply estimates for the world’s most widely grown oilseed.
“The bean is typically crushed into soya meal that is fed to livestock, and into vegetable oil, making it a key input in products including steak, baked goods and biodiesel.
“The US Department of Agriculture raised its estimate of the global oilseed crop by 5.8m tonnes on Friday to a record 521.9m tonnes” [full report here, summary of U.S. supply and demand variables for soybeans here].
Gregory Meyer reported yesterday at The Financial Times Online that, “The prospect of a colossal 1bn-tonne global corn crop has sent the price of the grain below $4 per bushel for the first time in almost four years.
“Reports of near-perfect conditions in the US corn belt and favourable weather from Ukraine to China have pounded bulls in agricultural markets in recent weeks. Farmers’ incomes, tractor sales and land prices could be hit.
“Analysts expect the US Department of Agriculture to raise its forecast of how much corn the average US farmer will harvest per acre when it updates official estimates on Friday. The agency’s current estimate, of 165.3 bushels per acre, would already be a record.”
Tim Devaney reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “House Republicans clashed with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials Wednesday over the agency’s controversial plan to regulate small bodies of water, which the GOP says could hurt American farmers.
“Republicans fear the EPA’s proposed Waters of the U.S. rule would expand the agency’s authority to include small rivers, streams and ponds around the country, which they say could hurt farmers whose lands are strategically surrounded by water.
From PostTV (The Washington Post)- “New York City’s Schatzie the Butcher says meat prices are ‘really insane,’ as drought has driven up the cost of beef and veal while a virus in piglets is causing pork prices to soar. (Reuters)”