Congress just passed a new farm bill with bipartisan support to provide support to farmers as the trade war presses on. The $867-billion bill will provide subsidies to American farmers, legalizes hemp production, rejects stricter limits on food stamps, and makes changes to forest management practice.
Since 2014, low agricultural prices have led to increases in chapter 12 bankruptcies in the Federal Reserve’s Ninth District, reaching levels in 2018 greater than those seen in the wake of the financial crisis. For the trailing twelve months ending June 2018, the Minneapolis Fed – overseeing Minnesota, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, and Montana – reported 84 chapter 12 bankruptcies in its district. The last time chapter 12 bankruptcies were this high was the same period ending in 2010, which recorded 70 bankruptcies.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue mentioned Monday that a second, multi-billion-dollar round, estimated at nearly $4.7 billion, of financial assistance will be made to soybean, cotton, pork, dairy, sorghum, wheat, corn, shelled almonds, and sweet cherry producers by December.
In recent years, Americans have tossed traditional favorites Bud, Busch, Miller, and Coors to the wayside in preference of more select brews. Craft beers have risen in sales and production in recent years. However, brewers fear that growth may be stalling. According to the Brewers Association, afer 15% growth in volume in 2015 and 18% growth in the two years preceding, volume growth slowed to 6% in 2016 and 5% in 2017. Last year, overall retail beer sales fell 1.2% and many suspect Americans’ alcohol preference is shifting from beer to liquor.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in its acreage report on Friday that U.S. farmers planted an estimated 89.6 million acres of soybeans compared to an estimated 89.1 million acres of corn in 2018. It is the first time in 35 years that farmers planted more soybeans than corn. Both measures are down from 2017 figures but align with analyst expectations for 2018. While growers were expecting better returns on soybeans in the middle of planting season, a brewing trade war with China has filled the soybean market with some anxiety. China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans and the U.S.’s largest customer of the oilseed. Since the planting season has ended and trade tensions have arisen, commodity prices for soybeans and corn have fallen.
The US, European Union, and New Zealand collectively produce and sell more than 80% of the world’s cheese. Due to weather events in New Zealand and Europe, American exports of cheddar cheese have increased 83% in the first few months of 2018 from the same period of 2017, according to HighGround Dairy, a market intelligence firm that is focused on the dairy industry.
Easter spending is expected to reach $18.2 billion this year, narrowly down from last year’s $18.4 billion. According to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, this year is still the second-highest year on record. Eighty-one percent of Americans will celebrate the holiday, and the average expenditure is expected to reach $150 per person, or $2 per person shy of 2017’s record.
On March 13th, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced an additional 90-day waiver on Congress’ electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. The waiver applies to agriculture-related transportation, which includes drivers who haul agricultural commodities, non-processed food, feed, fiber, or livestock. The original waiver, which was a 90-day waiver that was announced on November 20th, 2017, was set to expire March 18th, 2018.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently reported its expectations for 2018 net farm income, which included a forecast for a $4.3 billion, or 6.7%, decline to $59.5 billion. At $59.5 billion, this represents the lowest nominal income level since 2006. Similarly, inflation-adjusted, or “real” dollar, net farm income is expected to decline $5.4 billion, or 8.3%, from 2017, which is the lowest real-dollar level since 2002. Net cash farm income, which differs from net farm income by excluding certain non-cash items such as depreciation, is forecasted to decrease $6.7 billion, or 6.8%.
According to the National Retail Federation, approximately 188.5 million people will watch the New England Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles in Tom Brady’s eighth Super Bowl appearance. At $81.17 per person, the $15.3 billion is 8.5% above last year’s $14.1 billion.