An expanding list of Canadian farm exports is hitting obstacles at Chinese ports, leaving sellers of soybeans, peas and pork scrambling amid a bitter diplomatic dispute. China has already blocked Canadian canola from Richardson International and Viterra, two of Canada's biggest farm exporters, saying that shipments had pests. Other China-bound canola cargoes have been cancelled, forcing exporters to re-sell elsewhere at discount.Canadian politicians have said the concerns are baseless, and noted that China detained two Canadians after Canada arrested an executive of Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in December at the United States' request. China has used non tariff barriers before during diplomatic tensions, most recently against Australian coal.Now traders say Canadian soybeans and peas face unusual obstacles. Ottawa also warned last week that China was holding up pork shipments over paperwork issues.
Wisconsin is known as “America’s Dairyland,” but the milk makers who gave the state its moniker are vanishing, falling prey to a variety of impediments, including President Trump and his global trade war.Over the past two years, nearly 1,200 of the state’s dairy farms have stopped milking cows and so far this year, another 212 have disappeared, with many shifting production to beef or vegetables. The total number of herds in Wisconsin is now below 8,000 — about half as many as 15 years ago. In 2018, 49 Wisconsin farms filed for bankruptcy — the highest of any state in the country, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Corn plantings are off to another slow start but that did not seem to provide much support to corn futures on Monday as all contracts lost ground. The nearby May corn futures closed at 3.695 $/bu, 6.6 cents lower than the close on Friday. December '09 and 10 March futures contracts fell 8.9 and 9 cents, respectively.
As the Midwest continues to recover from the historic flooding, more information is being revealed on the aftermath. The Midwest flooding crisis has already damaged grain and potentially many grain bin structures and is expected to present problems into July, impacting the current planting season. A geospatial intersection of Farm Market iD’s land data with a flood map from March 16 to 24, 2019, showed that Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas are experiencing significant impacts from the flooding.
It takes a few ounces per acre of a herbicide containing glyphosate to kill the weed downy brome. At least, it’s supposed to.But when a farmer sent a sample of the weed to Washington State University professor Ian Burke’s lab, researchers determined it would take seven times the maximum label rate of the herbicide to kill it.That’s an extreme example of a problem that’s become more serious in recent years: herbicide resistance in weeds. For decades, farmers have relied on an array of herbicides to get rid of weeds that compete with their crops and drastically reduce yields. Now, through repeated use of those chemicals, the weeds are developing resistance to them.
Over the past 15 years, the number of U.S. farmworkers has declined by approximately 12%, representing a loss of over 104,000 workers. The greatest decline, in terms of worker numbers, occurred in California and Florida. In 2017, there were 731,300 farmworkers in the United States, down from 836,000 in 2003. California, comprising the largest share of U.S. farmworkers, accounted for the greatest portion of this decline. In 2003, California employed 227,500 farmworkers representing 27.2% of total U.S. farmworkers. In 2017, there were 153,800 farmworkers in California, down 73,700, representing 21.0% of total U.S. farmworkers. In Florida, farmworker numbers declined over the same period by 17,400, from 54,200 in 2003 to 36,800 in 2017.
Minnesota farmers are considering ways to prevent the closure of small dairies during a sustained slump in milk prices.Roughly 80 farmers recently gathered in Greenwald to voice concerns about the loss of small dairies, which face higher milk production costs than mega-dairies, the Star Tribune reported.Minnesota has seen more than 1,100 dairy farmers leave the industry in the past six years. Many have reached a breaking point, as the median income at a dairy farm in the state dropped from about $43,000 in 2017 to less than $15,000 last year.Levins outlined a proposal to address the "operating cost imbalance" between small and large dairies. The legislation hasn't been written, but it would make emergency federal payments to farmers based on production costs.
We hate to sound like the little boy who cried wolf, but for US farmers there really is a wolf out there and that wolf is called low prices. While the pain is not evenly spread across the nation and across farm types, for those involved it is serious. To get a picture of what is happening to farm income, we will look at 3 sources of information: USDA’s “US farm sector financial indicators, 2012-19F”, a University of Minnesota press release “Minnesota farm income hits historic low: Farmers struggled [with] low prices and low profitability in 2018”, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’ “Chapter 12 bankruptcies on the rise in the Ninth District: Low crop and livestock prices also bleeding through to ag bank loans.The USDA’s farm sector financial indicators spread sheet (March 6, 2019) shows the 2018 forecast of net farm income (2018F) at $63.1 billion, down $12.0 billion from the previous year. This is the second lowest level of net farm income since its $123.4 billion peak in 2013, a decline of 48.9 percent.In 2013 Federal Government direct farm payments were $9.8 billion or 10.6 percent of net farm income. The forecast for 2018 has farm payments at $13.8 billion or 21.8 percent of net farm income. Crop insurance payments to farmers for losses are included in net farm income while crop insurance subsidies are not. Farm equity of $2.621 trillion in 2018F is $161.1 billion higher than it was in 2013 while the debt-to-equity ratio has increased from 12.8 percent (2013) to 15.7 percent (2018F). The 2019F debt-to-equity ratio increases to 16.1 percent.
It’s a fascinating, but uncertain, time in the agricultural markets. Global and US supplies of agricultural products are at or near record levels. At the same time, global demand for agricultural products continues to grow, pressured by both population and income growth. Markets work to distribute the products across the globe, and government policies can definitely shape that distribution. Myriad new trade agreements, trade disputes, and tariffs introduced over the last 15 months are reshaping global agricultural trade flows. Some of that reshaping has been beneficial to US producers, while some of it has been harmful. Trade policy does not exist in a vacuum—while a tariff may be targeted at one specific country, the tariff’s impact can (and often does) spread beyond the borders of the two countries involved, which is true of trade agreements as well. The impacts of the trade agreements are not limited to only those countries within the agreement.
The damage of ASF has already significantly influenced China’s pork imports. After the initial tariff increase on US pork in April 2018 (Li 2018), pork exports to China reduced to a trickle. In December 2018, US exports to China started to pick up with 7,823 metric tons of pork exported by the first week of January 2019. After several weeks of zero exports, trade resumed with 17,215 metric tons exported in the second week of February 2019. The net sales of 23,846 metric tons in the first week of March was the third-largest weekly sale since USDA started publishing weekly country-specific export data. As of the writing of this article, the total commitment (total export+outstanding sales) of pork export to China is at 142,845 metric tons, almost five times the total export to China last year (Figure 3). Given the high tariffs, the Chinese government is likely behind these purchases, either by directly ordering state-owned firms to buy or by waiving tariffs. In this regard, we note that COFCO, a state-owned enterprise, did not pay a duty on imported soybeans destined for the state reserve.