Welcome to Agriculture Economic Tidbits, a weekly e-newsletter (emailed Mondays) for farmer and rancher members of Nebraska Farm Bureau. Agriculture Economics Tidbits will provide you with timely tidbits of economic information and policy analysis focused on Nebraska’s largest industry, agriculture, and its key players, Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. The newsletter will break down global and national economic trends and what they mean for Nebraska agriculture, stay abreast of latest market movements, and provide the latest results from Farm Bureau research on current policy issues like property taxes, school funding, farm programs and international trade—all with the goal of helping you maintain a viable farming or ranching operation.
“The supply chains behind an iPhone, or a car component that crisscrosses the Rio Grande, are wonders of co-ordination. But the unsung star of 21st-century logistics is the global food system. From field to fork, it accounts for 10% of world GDP and employs perhaps 1.5bn people. The global supply of food has nearly tripled since 1970, as the population has doubled to 7.7bn. At the same time, they number of people who have too little to eat has fallen from 36% of the population to 11%, and a bushel of maize or cut of beef costs less today than 50 years ago in real terms. Food exports have grown sixfold over the past 30 years; four-fifths of people live in part on calories produced in another country. This happens in spite of governments, not because of them.” The Economist, Supply chains and the pandemic: the food miracle, May 9th, 2020.
InvestingAnswers defines price discovery as “the act of determining the proper price . . . by studying market supply and demand and other factors. . . [it] also depends on the number, size, location, and competitiveness of the buyers and sellers.” Price discovery in fed cattle markets is a growing concern for many participants.
Figure 2. Crude Oil and Ethanol Inputs (To Gasoline Demand)
Source: USDA, Economic Research Service
Exports represent a significant market for U.S. agricultural products. For Nebraska, the value of exports each year equals roughly 30 percent of the state’s total agricultural receipts. Agricultural exports benefit not only farmers and ranchers but spills over into other sectors of the economy as well.
“If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small.” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, on a projected $4 billion of coronavirus-related expenses in the second quarter.
Farm Service Agency records show there are 33.8 base acres of peanuts certified in Antelope County.
U.S. agriculture has built a tremendously efficient food supply chain starting with farmers and ranchers and ending with retailers and consumers. When it runs smoothly, consumers can go to a store, restaurant, or even online, and purchase the variety and quantity of food they desire at an affordable cost.
An economic recession is defined as at least two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. Given last week’s first quarter growth estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), it appears the U.S. economy will enter a recession in 2020.
“JPMorgan Chase, the country’s largest bank, said the credit-card transaction volumes at supermarkets in March were twice those in March 2019.” Dispatch from the front, The Economist, April 18th, 2020.
Preliminary estimates released by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri showed U.S. net farm income will decline $20 billion in 2020, or 17 percent compared to 2019, primarily due to COVID-19 impacts.
“This is stunning as it basically says that a barrel of oil earlier this week was effectively cheaper than it was in 1870. A period over which US inflation has risen +2870% and the S&P 500 +31746505% in total return terms,” Analysts Jim Reid and Nick Burns quoted in the Van Trump Report, April 23, 2020.
Source: Daily Livestock Report, Steiner Consulting Group, Vol. 18, No. 76, April 20, 2020
As the economic costs of social distancing and other measures taken to “flatten the curve” for the COVID-19 outbreak become more apparent, people are asking whether the efforts are worth it. Do the benefits of flattening the curve exceed the resulting economic costs?
“Or , maybe, history, like life, is just one damn thing after another.” Jonah Goldberg, Suicide of the West, Crown Forum, 2018.
While most planting decisions have likely been made, relative changes between the prices of soybeans and corn over the past month have led some farmers to rethink their planting intentions. The USDA NASS projected Nebraska farmers would plant 10.5 million acres of corn and 5.1 million acres of soybeans.
Livestock prices are sensitive to the level of capacity utilization in the beef and pork processing sectors. Agricultural economists at Kansas State and Iowa State Universities found that livestock prices are reduced the higher the utilization of capacity.
“Well, Jane, it just goes to show you. It's always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.” Roseanne Rosannadanna, Saturday Night Live, 1980.