Good morning. This is Bob Bragg. Welcome to the March 12th edition of Farm News and Views.
Early last fall, the long range weather forecasts for a wetter than normal winter were eagerly received by farmers and ranchers. But by mid November, a lot of folks were wondering if we were in for another dry year. When winter hit though, it delivered. During all of the sometimes heavy snow, I didn’t hear any farmers or rancher complaining about drifted in drives and the difficulties of having to feed livestock in coveralls and muck boots. But our late winter snow, rain and warmer days have brought a new plague especially to livestock producers…boot sucking off Mud. This has coincided with Calving cows, lambing ewes and departing soil stabilizing frost. An example of the changing conditions was seen at the Old Fort at Hesperus, where Coordinator Beth Lashell posted a picture three weeks ago of cows being fed in a valley of snow that had been carved out by a snow blower on the back of a big John Deere tractor. Last week they were searching for bedding for cows that were starting to calve on ground that was starting to turn into a quagmire…I still haven’t heard any farmers or ranchers complaining about the snow and rain we’vereceived or the mud.
A pair of USDA Economic Research Service reports give farmers some sunshine for the short term economic outlook but a somewhat cloudy forecast for the next decade. Their report, Agricultural Projections to 2028 estimated that net farm income, which is a “broad measure of profits” will be stuck in a narrow range between 77.6 to 79.5 billion dollars for the next decade. Thats just 1.9 billion dollars of growth in net farm income between 2019 and 2028. However, the Economic Research Service released “Highlights from the March 2019 Farm Income Forecast,” on Thursday last week. It forecast that net farm income would rise by $6.3 Billion to almost 70 billion dollars in 2019, which is 10% above the 2018 level, but almost 8 billion dollars less than was forecast in th February 14th report. Another concerning statistic is that nearly 1 dollar in every 5 dollars in 2018 net farm income came from Direct Government Payments, which will likely go down in 2019, when the tariff mitigation payments go away, but will still be a a significant pat of farm income in the future.
Links to these two reports are at the Farm New and Views dot net blog. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/farm-economy/farm-sector-income-finances/highlights-from-the-farm-income-forecast/
We hear that an ever growing world population needs our crops. But over production both in the U.S. and worldwide is the current cause of low grain prices. So far, U.S. agricultural policies haven’t addressed this problem. Farmers survive by produceing higher yields that result in a small margin of profit. But if we are to believe the USDA forecasts, the only hope for higher prices is a catastrophe that will damage crop production significantly somewhere in the world. By 2050, will we be asking, “Where have all the farmers gone?”
President Trump’s budget request that was unveiled yesterday, targets USDA with significant cuts, but according to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Congress usually disregards the president’s budget request, but he hopes that there will be negotiations between the President and Congress before the budget is finalized.
I’ll leave you with this thought from Greek philosopher E pic tetus “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”
Until next week. I’m Bob Bragg.