Estimates of economic damage from the 2019 Midwest flooding have reached $12.5 billion, according to AccuWeather, which based its estimates on already-inflicted damages and estimated additional damage and lingering health effects from flooding.
For the first time since 1998, Americans consumption of ethanol fuel declined. According to the Energy Information Association, a Federal agency, consumption fell from 14.5 billion gallons in 2017 to just under 14.4 billion gallons in 2018. The Renewable Fuel Association (RFA), a policy advocate for the ethanol industry, suggests that a change in the overall blend rate, via a decline in RIN waivers, led to the decline.
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.
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.
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%.
Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) issued its first quarter 2018 earnings on Thursday. The world’s largest seed company posted a 17.1% decline in sales in of corn seeds and traits, due to lower volumes in the US and Brazil. Soybean seed and traits sales increased 21.3% during the period. Total seed and genomic sales decreased 4.2% year over year to $1.77 billion, and total sales remained relatively unchanged, increasing just 0.3% to $2.66 billion.