New Year - Down on the Farm

February 20, 2020

February 20, 2020

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural
America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary –

We still have some snow on the ground at our farm in Illinois, but it is a good time to
plan next year’s crops. Which fields will be for corn and which for soybeans? What hybrids and
seed numbers to plant in different fields? Can we expect better prices or just more of the same?
Farm income made a record $123 billion in 2013. It went down from there and bottomed out at
$62 billion in 2016, climbing to $78 billion last year. The carryover of corn has been on the
decline each year since 2016. That has helped to lift income.

Keep in mind crop prices are a product of supply and demand. Supply could be big
because we can’t expect another year with millions of acres unplanted and never harvested.
Yields will probably be up. Price and volume are on one side and then on the other you have
cost of production. We don’t expect a big move up in cost of seed, fertilizer, and crop
protection. Don’t overpay for land rent and we might come out ahead. I predict we won’t get
the kind of federal government support that we got last year. The trade war with China is fixed
for this year, despite the Coronavirus. I think China will be a big buyer this year with African
Swine Fever devastating their pork industry. They now have bird flu and have had to kill
thousands of chickens.

The countries leading the increase in meat consumption are: China number one, U.S.
second, followed by India, Brazil and Mexico. Remember all those animals are eating corn and
soybean meal. That can lift our grain prices. We know that our farmers and ranchers are
carrying more debt and have weathered some tough times in recent years. We can’t be sure, but
this year should be better.

Until next week, this John Block reporting from Washington, D.C. If you would like to
review my radio shows going back more than 20 years, just go on-line to