Declining crop prices and more planted acres with lower but still near record income are key forecasts at USDA’s 2023 Ag Outlook Forum. USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer; “Getting a combined corn area of 91 million acres of corn, 87-and-a-half million acres of beans, and then 49-and-a-half million acres of wheat.”
For a rebound in wheat acres, some in corn, flat for beans, reflecting several changes Meyer said; “Input prices are on the downside, commodity prices are on the downside, and then, I will also note here, why do you see three area total rise? We ended up with higher than normal prevented-planted acres because weather always has the last say in what gets planted.”
All combining with a pullback in pandemic payments to lower expected farm income to a still above-average level. And then, there’s foreign competition.
Meyer; “You’re talking about a 204 million metric ton crop out of South America, in terms of soybeans. What do you think that crop looks like next year? You’re talking something in the neighborhood of 220 million metric tons of production out of South America.”
Much of it now going to China, still the number one U.S. ag customer, followed by Mexico and Canada, yielding still near-record ag exports. But Secretary Tom Vilsack told Ag Outlook that too many producers are making little or no income while fewer big ones profit, and USDA’s trying to change that.
Vilsack; “It’s not just ‘get big,’ it’s diversify, and it’s create multiple profit centers in your farming operation.”
Using the Inflation Reduction and Infrastructure and Jobs Acts and the American Rescue Plan, Vilsack says; “It’s the technical assistance and financial assistance and help that will allow you to link to a local market to allow you to take advantage of expanded processing.”
Or adopt sustainable ag, make renewable energy, or market food to schools according to Vilsack. “Higher farm income, more rural jobs, better soil health, purer water quality, and a stronger sense of community and connection. That’s the future.”
And the future of democracy, Vilsack argues, where the land produces kids who understand freedom and the need to give back to country, often in the military, and some of the opportunities given them.