R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Corn forecast, soybean cost and more

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Illinois State Fair officials reported a small drop in attendance, but higher vendor sales during the fair’s 11-day run in Springfield last month.

Combines are rolling in the fields as farmers begin clearing what may be the largest corn crop in Illinois history; we have details and analysis. Also, a U of I economist has calculated the impact on soybean exports since the onset of the trade war between the U.S. and major agricultural trade partners. We also have a report on how one ag sector is investing “seed money” in other foreign markets to take up the slack. For info on these and other issues affecting Illinois farmers and rural dwellers, please read on …

Illinois corn forecast at 214 bu./acre

SPRINGFIELD — The latest USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service Illinois Crop Production report notes that based on Sept. 1 conditions, the Illinois corn yield is forecast at a record 214 bushels per acre. This is up seven bushels from the August report and up 13 bushels from 2017. In addition, production is forecast at 2.32 billion bushels, up 5 percent from last year’s production and the second highest on record. All of this is being accomplished, incidentally, on 11 million acres planted area, 2 percent less corn acreage than in 2017.
As for soybeans, the NASS production forecast of 716 bushels is 17 percent greater than 2017 production and the highest production level on record. Soybean planted area is estimated at 10.9 million acres, which is 3 percent more than in 2017, with a harvested area forecast at 10.85 million acres, which is also up by 3 percent. The soybean yield projection of 66 bu./acre is up eight bushels from last year, according to the Sept. 12 report.

Combines rolling in fields; corn harvest progressing

SPRINGFIELD — By the time you read this copy, the number will have increased, but the Illinois corn crop was 4 percent harvested by Sept. 10, according to the latest Illinois Crop Progress and Condition report. Corn dented stood at 96 percent, compared to 80 percent last year, while mature corn was rated at 56 percent, vastly outpacing the five-year average of 29 percent.

Soybeans coloring had reached 75 percent, compared to the five-year average of 39 percent, while 37 percent had dropped leaves, compared to 12 percent last year. The soybean harvest was 1 percent complete, which is unusual as soybean harvest is rarely rated this time of year. The crops received a last minute boost from heavy rains that swept across Illinois before skies cleared and allowed 3.9 days suitable for fieldwork, the report stated.

This means that combines and support vehicles are rolling in the fields and on the roads, making for an earlier harvest than motorists are normally used to. Watch out for them, farmers, and stay safe!

Analysis: Soybean tariff affecting price outlook

URBANA — The Chinese tariff on U.S. soybeans led to a large drop in soybean prices, which somewhat ironically led to a jump in soybean exports from the U.S. over the last quarter of this marketing year. This is according to the USDA soybean export estimate for the 2017-18 marketing year, which currently sits at 2.11 billion bushels, an increase of 45 million bushels since the June estimate.

But the implementation of tariffs also led to a price gap between Brazilian and U.S. export prices, points out University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs. The gap reached its broadest level recently at around $1.90 per bushel, with New Orleans prices for U.S. soybean exports near $8.50 per bushel. “It’s difficult to predict future changes in the spread between the two prices, but it directly relates to the tariff level in China on U.S. soybeans,” Hubbs said in an essay, “Soybean Exports Since the Onset of Tariffs,” published Sept. 10. “The development of this price gap indicates the impact of tariffs on soybean markets and highlights switches in Chinese soybean buying this year.”

Discussion a graphs associated with Hubbs’ article are available at www.youtu.be/DMAX25KqyP8.

Illinois Farm Fact:

Compared with 2017 U.S. pork export values of $53.47 per market hog, the lack of promising trade deals with China, Canada and Mexico may reduce export values by as much as $28 per head. (Illinois Pork Producers Association)

Pork producers invest in Korea exports

SPRINGFIELD — Tariffs resultant to trade wars are impacting the 1.8 billion pork industry in Illinois, threatening job security and livelihoods of the 10,500 Illinoisans employed in the industry. “While the entire agriculture industry is struggling with similar issues, the pork industry is shouldering much of the burden,” said Jenny Jackson, director of communications for the Illinois Pork Producers Association, in a news release.

For that reason, the IPPA board of directors recently announced they would commit $30,000 to the U.S. Meat Export Federation to specifically increase pork demand in Korea. The funding is effective immediately to ensure action is taken before the end of 2018, according to IPPA president and Emington farmer Mike Haag. “On behalf of the IPPA board, we want pig farmers to know that we recognize the struggles at hand and are spending their Checkoff dollars in a wise manner, to increase demand for our product and hopefully bring some profitability back to our farmers.”

The board chose Korea as the recipient of the funds due to their consistent increase of imported U.S. pork. Net pork sales to Korea had risen by 216 percent and tons of pork by 37 percent in the week of Aug. 3-9, according to USMEF statistics. Smithfield Foods’ pork shipments jumped as much as 50 percent in the first six months of the year as those to China fell by 20 to 30 percent, according to Smithfield parent company WH Group.

State Fair report: Higher sales, lower attendance

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois State Fair officials reported a small drop in attendance, but higher vendor sales during the fair’s 11-day run in Springfield last month. The 369,144 attendance count reflected an 8 percent decrease from 2017 attendance, but fairgoers appeared to be spending more at this year’s fair. The Illinois Department of Revenue reported sales receipts of $1.392 million and collected $87,036 in sales taxes; both figures were 16 percent higher than in 2017.

The first Saturday of the fair, Aug. 11, saw the most attendance with 44,209 passing through the gates. The following Saturday, Aug. 18, saw the second highest attendance of 39,961. Agriculture Day, held Aug. 14, had the third-best attendance with 39,310 visitors.



–R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: Corn forecast, soybean cost and more–