The “FOCUS ON AG” column is sent out weekly via e-mail to all interested parties. The column features timely information on farm management, marketing, farm programs, crop insurance, crop and livestock production, and other timely topics. Previous “FOCUS ON AG columns are available on the MinnStar Bank website at: https://www.minnstarbank.com/category/focus-on-ag/ or the MinnStar Bank Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MinnStarBankNA/ Selected copies of the “FOCUS ON AG” column are also available on “The FARMER” magazine web site at: https://www.farmprogress.com/focus-ag
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The monthly USDA World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Report that was released on October 12 will likely impact corn and soybean markets in the coming months. The WASDE Report decreased the estimated 2023 corn and soybean yield and the corresponding 2023 production estimates. There was a slight decrease in the expected U.S. corn ending stocks by the end of the 2023-24 marketing year, as compared to the September estimate; however, the projected soybean ending stocks for 2023-24 remained the same as a month earlier.
The latest WASDE report showed an increase in total demand levels for corn during the 2023-24 marketing year, as compared to 2022-23 levels. Total corn usage for 2023-24 is now estimated at 14.34 billion bushels, which is down slightly from the September estimate and compares to total corn usage of nearly 13.77 billion bushels for 2022-23. The increased corn usage estimates are mainly due to a projected increase in corn export levels and corn used for ethanol production in the coming year. The total 2023-24 soybean usage is estimated at 4.18 billion bushels which is down from 2022-23 levels, mainly due to a projected decrease in export levels.
The October WASDE Report showed a slight decrease the estimated U.S. corn ending stocks for the 2023-24 marketing year, as compared to the September report. The 2023-24 corn ending stocks are now estimated at 2.11 billion bushels which compares to 1.36 billion bushels for 2022-23. It also compares to previous year-end corn carryout levels of 1.38 billion bushels in 2021-22, 1.23 billion bushels in 2020-21, and 1.99 billion bushels in 2019-20. The 2023-24 U.S. corn ending stocks-to-use ratio is now estimated at 14.7 percent, compared to the much tighter ratios of ratios of 9.9 percent in 2022-23, 9.2 percent in 2021-22, and 8.3 percent for 2020-21. The projected 2023-24 ratio is comparable to the ratios of 14.4 percent in 2019-20 and 15.5 percent for 2018-19. The wider stocks-to-use ratio may limit the potential for rallies in the cash corn market in the coming months.
The 2023-24 U.S. soybean ending stocks in the latest WASDE Report were estimated at 220 million bushels, which is the same as the September USDA report. The projected 2023-24 carryover level is lower than the estimated final ending stocks of 268 million bushels in 2022-23 and 274 million bushels in 2021-22, as well as considerably below some other recent carryover levels of 523 million bushels in 2019-20 and 909 million bushels in 2018-19. The U.S. soybean ending stocks-to-use ratio for 2023-24 is estimated at 5.3 percent, which remains at a fairly tight level. The 2023-24 projected ending stocks ratio compares to 6.2 percent for 2022-23, 6.1 percent for 2021-22 and 5.7 percent for 2020-21; however, the 2023-24 ratio would be well below the ratios 13.2 percent ratio for 2019-20 and nearly 23 percent for 2018-19. The expected tight degree of projected soybean ending stocks for 2023-24 will likely help support short-term soybean prices in the coming months; however, continued market strength may depend on 2024 South American soybean production and continued solid export markets.
USDA is estimating the U.S farm-level cash corn price for 2023-24 at an average of $4.95 per bushel, which was up $.05 per bushel from the September estimate. The 2023-24 USDA price estimate is the expected average farm-level price for the 2023 crop from September 1, 2023, through August 31, 2024; however, this does not represent estimated prices for either the 2023 or 2024 calendar year. The projected 2023-24 average corn price compares to final market-year average corn prices of $6.54 per bushel for 2022-23, $6.00 per bushel for 2021-22, $4.53 per bushel for 2020-21, $3.56 per bushel for 2019-20, and $3.61 per bushel for 2018-19.
USDA is projecting the U.S. average farm-level soybean price for the 2023-2024 marketing year at $12.90 per bushel, which is the same as the September estimate. The 2023-24 soybean price estimate compares to the estimated 2022-23 average price of $14.20 per bushel, would was the highest average price in several years. Other final market-year average soybean prices were $13.30 per bushel for 2021-22, $10.80 per bushel for 2020-21, $8.57 per bushel for 2019-20 and $8.48 per bushel in 2018-19.
USDA Lowers 2023 Corn and Soybean Yield Estimates
The monthly USDA Crop Production Report was also released on October 12. USDA reduced the expected 2023 national average corn yield by eight-tenths of a bushel and decreased the projected 2023 U.S. average soybean yield by five-tenths of a bushel per acre as compared to the September report. The latest estimated 2023 national corn yield is only four-tenths of a bushel per acre lower than the final 2022 average yield, while the projected U.S. average soybean yield for 2023 is the same as the final 2022 national soybean yield.
USDA is estimating the 2023 national average corn yield at 173 bushels per acre, which compares to 173.4 bushels per acre in 2022. The projected 2023 U.S. corn yield also compares to the record U.S. corn yield of 176.7 bushels per acre in 2021, 171.4 bushels per acre in 2020, and 168 bushels per acre in 2019. The estimated 2023 U.S. harvested corn acreage is 87.1 million acres, which is well above the 79.1 million acres that were harvested last year. The latest USDA Report estimated the total U.S. corn production for 2023 at just over 15 billion bushels, which is almost 10 percent above the production level of 13.71 billion bushels in 2022. The anticipated 2023 corn production would be the third highest on record and compares to levels of 15.1 billion bushels in 2021, 14.1 billion bushels in 2020, and the record U.S. production of 15.15 billion bushels in 2016.
USDA is estimating 2032 U.S. soybean yield at 49.6 bushels per acre, which compares to 50.1 bushels per acre in 2022, 51.7 bushels per acre in 2021, 51 bushels per acre in 2020, 47.4 bushels per acre in 2019, and the record U.S. soybean yield of 52.0 bushels per acre in 2016. The harvested soybean acreage for 2023 is estimated at 82.8 million acres, which is down from 86.2 million acres in 2022 and 86.3 million acres in 2021; however, it is similar to the 82.6 million harvested acres in 2020. The USDA Report estimated 2023 U.S. soybean production at just over 4.1 billion bushels, which trails the production levels of 4.27 billion bushels in 2022, 4.46 billion bushels in 2021, and 4.22 billion bushels in 2020.
The October USDA Report increased the expected 2023 corn yield in some States and lowered yield expectations in other States, compared to the September Report. Minnesota is projected to have a 2023 corn yield of 179 bushels, which compares to the state record yield of 195 bushels per acre in 2022, 177 bushels per acre in 2021, and 191 bushels per acre in 2020. USDA is estimating the 2023 Iowa corn yield at 199 bushels per acre, which compares to 200 bushels per acre in 2022 and the state record yield of 204 bushels per acre in 2021. States with projected strong average corn yields for 2023 include Illinois at 200 bushels per acre, which compares to record corn yield of 214 bushels per acre in 2022; Indiana at 197 bushels per acre, compared to 190 bushels per acre in 2022; and Ohio at 195 bushels per acre, compared to 187 bushels per acre in 2022. States with more modest corn yield estimates for 2023 include Nebraska at 174 bushels per acre, compared to 165 bushels per acre in 2022; South Dakota at 147 bushels per acre, compared to 132 bushels per acre in 2022; North Dakota at 136 bushels per acre, compared to 131 bushels per acre in 2022; and Wisconsin at 165 bushels per acre, compared to 180 bushels per acre in 2022.
USDA is estimating the 2023 Minnesota soybean yield at 48 bushels per acre, which compares to 50 bushels per acre in 2022, 47 bushels per acre in 2021, and the record yield of 52.5 bushels per acre in 2016. Iowa is projected to have a 2023 soybean yield of 58 bushels per acre, compared to 58.5 bushels per acre in 2022 and the record yield of 63 bushels per acre in 2021. Other States with solid projected soybean yields for 2023 include Illinois at 61 bushels per acre, compared to 63 bushels per acre in 2022 and the record yield of 65 bushels per acre in 2021; Indiana at 61 bushels per acre, compared to 57.5 bushels per acre in 2022; Ohio at 57 bushels per acre, compared to 55.5 bushels per acre in 2022; and Nebraska at 54 bushels per acre, compared to 49 bushels per acre in 2022. Projected 2023 soybean yields in other upper Midwest States include South Dakota at 43 bushels per acre, compared to 38 bushels per acre in 2022; North Dakota at 33 bushels per acre, compared to 35 bushels per acre in 2022, and Wisconsin at 44 bushels per acre, compared to 54 bushels per acre in 2022.
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he September 12 USDA Crop Report decreased the projected U.S. average corn and soybean yields for 2023, as compared to the August National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) yield estimates; however, that was offset by increases in the expected 2023 harvested acreage for both crops. The latest NASS yield estimates were based on U.S. crop conditions as of September 1st; and were the first 2023 USDA yield estimates that included actual field data, including in some of States with major impacts from this year’s drought. Total U.S. corn and soybean harvested acreage totals were increased in the latest USDA report, compared to the August acreage estimates. The increase in acreage resulted from less-than-expected prevented planted acres in 2023. The end-result was a slight increase in the expected total 2023 corn production and a slight decrease in the estimated 2023 soybean produc-tion. The immediate market response was a price decline for both December corn futures and November soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT).
The September 12 USDA Report projects the 2023 U.S. average corn yield at 173.8 bushels per acre, which is a decline from 175.1 bushels per acre in the August USDA report. The projected 2023 national corn yield compares to 173.3 bushels per acre in 2022 and the record U.S. corn yield of 177 bushels per acre in 2021, as well as to 171.4 bushels per acre in 2020 and 167.4 bushels per acre in 2019. USDA increased the total 2023 harvested corn acreage in the U.S. by 774,000 acres from earlier estimates, based on crop acreage certification data filed by producers through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices. USDA is now estimating total U.S. corn production for 2023 at just over 15.13 billion bushels, which would be an in-crease of 10 percent from the 2022 production level of 13.73 billion bushels and would be similar to the 2021 production of 15.1 billion bushels.
USDA is estimating Minnesota’s 2023 average corn yield at 180 bushels per acre, which was a decrease of 3 bushels per acre from the August esti-mate. The projected 2023 corn yield compares to the 2022 record yield of 195 bushels per acre and the 2021 average yield of 178 bushels per acre. The September 12 report also decreased Iowa’s 2023 average corn yield by 3 bushels per acre compared to the August estimate, lowering the project-ed yield to 200 bushels per acre. Iowa’s projected 2023 statewide corn yield would be the same as the final 2022 yield and compares to 205 bushels per acre in 2021.
The 2023 USDA corn yield estimates for the major corn producing states in the eastern corn belt are Illinois at 198 bushels per acre, compared to 214 bushels per acre in 2022; Indiana at 194 bushels per acre, compared to 190 bushels per acre in 2022; and Ohio at 195 bushels per acre, compared to 187 bushels per acre in 2022. Several western corn belt states showed higher yield estimates for 2023, including Nebraska at 177 bushels per acre, compared to 165 bushels per acre in 2022, South Dakota at 146 bushels per acre, compared to 132 bushels per acre in 2022, and North Dakota at 138 bushels per acre, compared to 131 bushels per acre in 2022. The 2023 yield estimate for Wisconsin is 165 bushels per acre, compared to 180 bushels per acre in 2022. It should be noted that of the states listed, only Ohio, North and South Dakota showed an increase in the corn yield projec-tion on September 1 compared to August 1. All other listed states listed showed a decline in the corn yield estimate.
The USDA Report on September 12 estimated total 2022 U.S. soybean production at just under 4.15 billion bushels, which would be down slightly from the 2022 soybean production of slightly below 4.28 billion bushels. USDA lowered the projected 2023 U.S. average soybean yield to 50.1 bushels per acre from 50.9 bushels per acre in the August report. The 2023 NASS soybean yield estimate compares to final U.S. soybean yields of 49.5 bushels per acre in 2022, 51.4 bushels per acre in 2021, and 50.2 bushels per acre in 2020. The record national average soybean yield was 52 bushels per acre in 2016. The USDA 2023 soybean yield projection was slightly higher than the average yield estimates by many grain trading ana-lysts, which is pressuring soybean prices.
USDA is estimating Minnesota’s 2023 average soybean yield at 48 bushels per acre, which is down one bushel per acre from the August estimate. The 2023 yield projection compares to recent statewide yields of 50 bushels per acre in 2022, 47 bushels per acre in 2021, and 49 bushels per acre in 2020, as well as the record statewide soybean yield of 52.5 bushels per acre in 2016. The estimated 2023 soybean yield for Iowa is at 58 bushels per acre, which is the same as the August projected yield. The 2023 estimated yield compares to 58.5 bushels per acre in 2022, the record statewide soy-bean yield of 62 bushels per acre in 2021, and 53 bushels per acre in 2020.
The projected 2023 yields in major soybean producing eastern corn belt states include Illinois at 61 bushels per acre, compared to 63 bushels per acre in 2022, Indiana at 60 bushels per acre, compared to 57.5 bushels per acre in 2022; and Ohio at 58 bushels per acre, compared to 55.5 bushels per acre in 2022. Similar to corn, soybean yields in Nebraska and South Dakota are expected to increase significantly in 2023, compared to the drought-reduced soybean yields in 2022. The 2023 Nebraska soybean yield is estimated at 55 bushels per acre, compared to 49 bushels per acre in 2022, with South Dakota projected at 43 bushels per acre in 2023, compared to 38 bushels per acre in 2022. The 2023 projected soybean yield of 46 bushels per acre in Wisconsin is considerably lower than the final yield of 54 bushels per acre in 2022, while the 2023 yield of 33 bushels per acre in North Dakota is only slightly below the final yield of 35 bushels per acre in 2022.
SEPTEMBER 12 WASDE REPORT
The USDA World Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) that was also released on September 12. The report included the projected decreases in the 2023 U.S. corn yield and corn production that were referenced earlier. The report projects increased corn usage for ethanol and livestock feed dur-ing 2023-24 marketing year, as compared to the 2022-23 corn usage levels. U.S. corn export levels for 2023-2024 are estimated at 2.050 billion bushels, which is up from the estimated export total of 1.665 billion bushels for 2022-23. The 2023-24 corn export level would still trail the strong export totals of 2.472 bushels in 2021-22 and 2.745 billion bushels in 2020-21.
The U.S. corn ending stocks for 2023-24 are projected at 2.22 billion bushels, which would be an increase of 53 percent from the estimated carryover of 1.452 billion bushels for 2022-23. The latest 2023-24 corn ending stocks projection would also be considerably higher than the final corn carryover levels of 1.38 billion bushels in the 2021-22 marketing year, and 1.23 billion bushels in 2020-21.
The higher projected 2023-24 corn ending stocks are putting considerable pressure on corn price projections for the 2023-24 marketing year, which extends from September 1, 2023, through August 31, 2024. USDA is estimating the average on-farm corn price for the 2023-24 marketing year at $4.90 per bushel, which is the same as the August report. The 2022-23 national average corn price, which will be finalized on September 30, 2023, is estimated at $6.55 per bushel, which compares to previous final national average prices of $6.00 per bushel in 2021-22, $4.53 per bushel in 2020-21, $3.56 per bushel in 2019-20, and $3.61 per bushel for 2018-19.
The recent WASDE report projected 2023-24 soybean ending stocks at 220 million bushels, which is a decrease of 25 million bushels from the August estimate. The 2023-24 estimated soybean ending stocks compare to previous ending stocks of an estimated 250 million bushels for 2022-23, 274 million bushels in 2021-22, and 257 million bushels in 2020-21. Soybean exports for 2023-24 are projected at 1.79 billion bushels, which is down from an estimated 1.99 billion bushels in 2022-23 and 2.15 billion bushels in 2021-22.
USDA is now projecting the average on-farm soybean price for the 2023-24 marketing year at $12.90 per bushel, which is an increase of $.20 per bushel from the August price estimate. The 2022-23 estimated final national average soybean price is estimated at $14.20 per bushel, which compares to national average prices of $13.30 per bushel in 2021-22, $10.80 per bushel for 2020-21, and $8.57 per bushel for 2019-20.
Note - For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Sr. Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. Phone (507) 381-7960. E-mail email@example.com) Web Site - http://www.minnstarbank.com
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Even though Congress has held multiple hearings and listening sessions during the past several months, it does not appear likely that we will have a new Farm bill in place when the current Farm Bill expires. The current Farm Bill, known as the “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018”, expires on September 30, 2023, and included coverage of the 2023 crop year. At this point, no formal legislation for a new Farm Bill has been proposed in either house of Congress. Once a formalized Farm Bill is proposed and discussed, it will need to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Biden before it can be enacted. Most likely, much of the funding allocated in the current Farm Bill will be extended through pending actions by Congress on the Federal budget.
When most people hear of a “Farm Bill”, they think of the commodity programs and payments that affect crop producers. Some people may be aware that crop insurance and conservation programs are included under the Farm Bill, and some are knowledgeable that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and food stamps are part of the Farm Bill legislation. However, very few people outside of government officials and policy experts are aware that the Farm Bill also covers funding for rural fire trucks and ambulances, export promotion, international food aid, forestry programs, ag research and extension education at land-grant universities, and school lunch programs. The current Farm Bill passed in 2018 was over 1,000 pages in length, and contains 12 separate Titles, which cover a multitude of programs that are administered by USDA.
Farm Bills date back to Great Depression era of the 1930’s, with the first Farm Bill having just two Titles and being only 54 pages in length. The “Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933” established the crop loan program, which is still in existence today. Under the crop loan program, producers can take out a low interest loan with USDA, using the crop as collateral before it is sold. The producer can either repay the loan principal plus interest when the crop is sold or can forfeit the crop to USDA. Over the past several decades, the crop loan program has been used extensively by farm operators to get needed working capital for purchasing crop inputs for the following crop year. Most national crop loan rates were increased as part of the 2018 Farm Bill, and some groups are pushing for further increases in the commodity loan rates in the next Farm Bill.
Land set aside and conservation programs were added to Farm Bills in the 1950’s, with the establishment of the “Soil Bank Program”. While the Soil Bank Program no longer exists, there have been many other set-aside and conservation programs, including the popular “Conservation Reserve Program” (CRP) that was added in the 1985 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill reduced the maximum CRP acreage from 32 million acres to 24 million acres, which was the lowest level since the initiation of the CRP program, which was gradually increased back to 27 million acres in the current Farm Bill. There are also several other conservation programs that are part of the current Farm Bill, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). There are efforts by some members of Congress, as well as agricultural and environmental organizations, to have Farm Bill programs more directly linked with practices that enhance carbon sequestration efforts.
Food stamps were added to Farm Bill in 1973, with the program being administered by USDA. Over 80 percent of the proposed funding for the next Farm Bill will go to SNAP related programs, which includes the food stamp program, the women, infants, and children (WIC) program, and the school lunch program. The Federal budget outlay for the SNAP program more than doubled from 2008 to 2013, then declined briefly before increasing again since 2020, due to the economic challenges caused by the COVID pandemic. Some members of Congress and other groups would like to see the Nutrition Title and SNAP programs removed from the Farm Bill. However, the Nutrition Title programs are important to nearly every member of Congress, including those in urban areas, which keeps all members engaged in Farm Bill discussions and the importance of food and agriculture.
About 10-12 percent of the funding in the proposed Farm Bill will be targeted for farm commodity programs and crop insurance programs. The current Farm Bill provides eligible crop producers the choice between the county revenue based “Ag Risk Coverage” (ARC-CO) program, or the price-only “Price Loss Coverage” (PLC) program, for corn, soybeans, wheat, and other eligible commodity crops. The ARC-CO program is based on actual county crop yields and national average crop prices for a given crop year, compared to 5-year average benchmark yields and prices. The PLC program payments are based on national average crop prices for a given year compared to present crop reference prices. Some farm organizations are pushing for higher crop reference prices in the next Farm Bill, given the much higher crop input costs that have occurred in the past couple of years. The current Farm Bill does allow for small gradual increases in the crop reference prices during extended periods of higher commodity prices. The dairy margin protection program and sugar support programs are also included under the commodity title of the Farm Bill.
Most crop producers and ag lenders will highlight a sound working crop insurance program as the “centerpiece” for a solid risk management plan in a farm operation. Over 95 percent of the corn and soybean acres in the Upper Midwest are typically insured by some type of crop insurance coverage. Most crop insurance premiums are subsidized at a rate of 60-65 percent by the federal government, as part of the Farm Bill. Some members of Congress and some organizations are calling for some changes and modifications to the current Federal Crop Insurance program, while most farm organizations are lobbying to keep the current program. Some livestock producer organizations would like to see enhancements to risk management programs for livestock production.
Since the first Farm Bill in 1933, there have been 17 different Farm Bills in the past 90 years, with the next Farm Bill scheduled to be finished in the coming months. New Farm Bills are usually written about every five years, with the longest period between new Farm Bills being nine years from 1956 to 1965, and the shortest period being one year from 1948 to 1949. The “Agricultural Act of 1949”, which is also known as the “permanent farm legislation”, was never repealed or allowed to expire, and becomes the Farm Bill legislation for many commodity programs if a new Farm Bill is not enacted when the previous Farm Bill expires. Many provisions in the 1949 legislation are very outdated and did not include the SNAP program, the current crop insurance program, or many popular ag and conservation programs, including CRP. The existence of the fallback to the 1949 legislation gives Congress extra incentive to complete Farm Bills in a timely manner.
The passage of a new Farm Bill is very complex, with programs ranging from farm commodity programs to food and nutrition programs, from conservation programs to rural development programs, and many more. In many cases, finalizing a Farm Bill in Congress can be quite controversial, and not necessarily by political party lines. The various Farm Bill programs become quite geographical, with members of Congress wanting to protect the farm, food and nutrition, conservation, and economic interests of their State or Congressional district. The very large federal budget deficit in recent years has added a new element to successfully passing a new Farm Bill.
The last Farm Bill was written in 2018, to cover federal fiscal years from 2019-2023; however, Congress has been known to extend Farm Bills beyond the expiration date. Thus far, the discussion has been to have a new Farm Bill completed by the time the current Farm Bill expired on September 30, 2023, or shortly after. Ultimately, there will likely be a compromise reached, and a new 5-year Farm Bill will be passed sometime later this year, or more likely in 2024. Given the current political division that exists in Congress and the other legislative issues, it is appearing likely that a one-year extension of the current Farm Bill is quite possible. From a commodity program standpoint, this would likely extend the current farm program provisions for an additional year in 2024.
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The Spring of 2023 has been a mixed scenario for crop producers in the Upper Midwest, as they have tried to get this year’s corn and soybean crop planted and off to a good start. Favorable weather conditions in early May allowed for corn planting progress in many areas of the Midwest; however, heavy rainfall events during the second week of May slowed planting progress in the Northern Corn Belt and resulted in some poor corn emergence. A very warm and dry weather pattern during the last half of May allowed most of the corn and soybeans to be planted by months end and resulted in rapid germination and crop emergence. As we enter June, the crop concern has turned to lack of rainfall in many areas of the Midwest.
Total rainfall amounts across the Upper Midwest during the month of May were quite variable. Most areas received some precipitation during the first half of May, with portions of Southern Minnesota receiving excess rainfall that caused some crop loss. Since May 15, much of the Midwest and Central Plains regions received less than normal rainfall for the last half of May and early June. This trend is certainly raising concerns in some portions of the region as we head into the primary portion of the growing season for corn and soybeans.
The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Waseca recorded 6.42 inches of rainfall during May, with nearly 6 inches of rainfall occurring from May 6-15. This was 1.95 inches above the long-term average monthly precipitation for May at Waseca, which followed the April precipitation total 3.66 inches that was very near normal. From May 16 until June 5 the Waseca location has measured only .42 inches of precipitation. The U of M Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton received 5.82 inches of rainfall from May 7-15 and has received and has received nearly 1.5 inches of rainfall since May 15, which is nearly ideal. Total stored soil measurements at the Lamberton site on June 1 were above normal levels and very close to levels in early June of 2022; however, stored soil moisture levels are somewhat limited in the upper sections of the soil profile.
A large portion of South Central Minnesota and adjoining areas of North Central Iowa dealt with excess precipitation from May 6-15, with several locations receiving 8-12 inches of total rainfall during that period. This resulted in thousands of acres of corn needing to be replanted due to drown-out conditions and poor crop emergence. A majority of the soybeans in the region, as well as the replanted and later-planted corn were not planted until the last week of May. Following the late planting dates, warm temperatures and limited rainfall have rapidly dried out topsoil conditions, which has resulted in poor and uneven crop emergence in some locations.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor that was released on June 1 showed that about one-third of the primary corn production regions of the United States were experiencing some level of drought. Moderate to extreme drought conditions covered much of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri, with moderate drought conditions extending into the western third of Iowa, southeast South Dakota, and extreme southwest Minnesota. A growing area of abnormally dry conditions extends from Iowa across the eastern Corn Belt States of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as in portions of South Dakota Wisconsin, and Central Minnesota. The corn and soybean crop in many of these areas is off to a good start but needs some rain to properly sustain young corn and soybean plants until they are able to draw on supplies of stored soil moisture.
Most areas of the Upper Midwest have benefitted from the warmer temperatures in late May and early June, especially in areas that were not impacted by the excessive rainfall in mid-May and have been getting some timely rainfall in the past two weeks. According to data from the Minnesota State Climatology Office, the average temperature at many reporting stations in Minnesota during the last week of May and first few days of June was 6-10 degrees above normal. The very warm temperatures resulted in rapid growth of both corn and soybeans.
The level of growing degree units (GDU’s), which measure growing conditions for corn and soybeans, was well above normal for the month of May at many locations in the Midwest. As of May 31, a total of 401 growing degree units (GDU”s) had accumulated at the U of M Research Center at Waseca since May 1. This is about 25 percent ahead normal and was well-ahead the 365 GDU’s accumulated by May 31, 2022. Much of the corn in the Upper Midwest that was planted in late April or early May that was not impacted by the heavy rainfall events in mid-May is ahead of normal development for early June, primarily due to the much warmer than normal temperatures in the last half of May and early June. The very warm temperatures in early June should continue to push crop development ahead of normal, except in areas with limited moisture or in locations that were impacted by a significant amount of replanted corn or late planted row crops.
Based on the May 29 USDA Crop Progress Report, 92 percent of the corn in the U.S. was planted, which compares to a 5-year average of 84 percent planted by that date. As of May 29, corn planting was 90 percent completed and corn emergence was ahead of normal in all major corn-producing States except North Dakota, However, corn planting in North Dakota progressed 40 percent during the week of May 22-29, reaching 72 percent completed, which is on-par with the long-term planting progress by that date. The May 30 USDA Report showed that 83 percent of the soybeans nationwide were planted, which is well-above the planting pace in 2022 and compares to a 5-year average soybean planting rate of 65 percent by that date. Similar to corn, soybean planting in all major soybean-producing States in the Midwest exceeded 80 percent completed by May 29, except in North Dakota which had 53 percent of the soybean planting completed.
The first 2023 national crop rating for corn was also released on May 29 and indicated that 69 percent of the U.S. corn crop was rated “good to excellent”. This compares to an initial USDA “good-to-excellent” rating for corn of 73 percent in 2022 and a five-year average of 71 percent in the higher rating category. Several of the initial statewide “good to excellent” corn condition ratings in late May were fairly strong with Wisconsin at 82 percent, Ohio at 81 percent, Minnesota at 80 percent, Iowa at 77 percent, Indiana and North Dakota at 72 percent, The States that were below a 70 percent “good-to excellent” corn rating on May 29 included Illinois at 69 percent, South Dakota at 65 percent Nebraska at 62 percent, and Missouri at 55 percent. The lower ratings in those States were primarily due to persistent dry topsoil conditions and developing drought conditions in some areas.
Based on research from the University of Illinois, there is very little correlation between the initial U.S. corn condition ratings in late May and the final U.S. corn yield. By late July, there is about a 90 percent correlation between the national corn condition rating and the final U.S. corn yield. Given the fast start to the 2023 growing season in many key corn producing States, there is certainly potential that the 2023 U.S. corn yield could meet or exceed the U.S. “trendline” corn yield of 181.5 bushels per acre. However, the growing drought area in the Western Corn Belt and large area of abnormally dry conditions in many locations across the Midwest has raised some concerns regarding the final 2023 corn yield levels in some areas.
The other factor besides the national average crop yields that will affect final 2023 U.S. corn and soybean production will be the final 2023 planted crop acreage. The March 30 USDA Planting Intentions Report estimated that 92 million acres of corn and 87.5 million acres of soybeans would be planted in 2023 The big question is how many prevented planted or abandoned crop acres will there be this year and were crop acres switched from corn to soybeans due to the later planting dates in the Northern Corn Belt. We should get a much clearer indication of the final corn and soybean planting numbers in the June 30th USDA Crop Acreage Report and the 2023 prevented planted acreage data.
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The University of Minnesota recently reported that the average net farm income for Southern Minnesota farmers in 2022 was $311,240, which was the highest average net farm income on record, surpassing the 2021 level of $280,900. The very positive net farm income levels from 2020-2022 followed seven years (2013-2019) in a row of sup-par net farm income levels in the region. The 2021 and 2022 net farm income levels in Southern and West Central Minnesota have been enhanced by robust crop profits that resulted from average to above average crop yields and the highest grain market prices since 2012. Livestock profit margins in 2022 in Southern Minnesota were mixed and typical livestock profit levels were at much more modest levels than the crop profits.
The Farm Business Management (FBM) Summary for Southern and West Central Minnesota is prepared by the Farm Business Management Instructors. This summary includes an analysis of the farm business records from farm businesses of all types and sizes in Southern and Western Minnesota. This annual farm business summary is probably one of the “best gauges” of the profitability and financial health of farm businesses in the region on an annual basis. Following are some of the key points from the data in the 2022 FBM Summary:
· The “Net Farm Income” is the return to labor and management, after crop and livestock inventory adjustments, capital adjustments, depreciation, etc. have been accounted for. This is the amount that remains for family living, non-farm capital purchases, income tax payments, and for principal payments on farm real estate and term loans. The average net farm income in 2022 was +$311,240.
· The “median” net farm income is the midpoint net farm income of all farm operations included in the FBM Summary, meaning that half of the farms have a higher net farm income and half have a lower net income. The average median net farm income in 2022 was +$177,614.
· A total of 1,476 farms from throughout South Central, Southwest, Southeast, and West Central Minnesota were included in the 2022 FBM Summary. The average farm size was 683 acres. The top 20 percent net income farms averaged 1,667 acres, while the bottom 20 percent net income farms had 205 acres.
· 63 percent of the farm operations were cash crop farms, 12 percent were single entity livestock operations,
and the balance are various combinations of crop, livestock, and other enterprises.
· 352 farms (24%) were under $250,000 in gross farm sales in 2022; 274 farms (18%) were between $250,000 and $500,000 in gross sales; 361 farms (25%) were between $500,000 and $1 million in gross sales; and 489 farms (33%) were above $1 million in gross sales.
· In 2022, the average farm business received $14,606 in government program payments, which includes CRP and conservation payments. This was down considerably from 2021 when the average was $58,196 in government payments which included many one-time payments related to the Covid pandemic and 2019 crop disaster payments. In addition, the average farm operation received $7,792 in crop insurance payments in 2022, which was considerably lower than the level of crop insurance payments from 2018-2020. The combination of farm program payments and crop insurance payments accounted for approximately 4.7 percent of the 2022 average net farm income. This compares to 2020, when government payments and crop insurance payments totaled over $126,000 and made up about 74 percent of the average net farm income.
· The average family living expense in 2022 was $71,375, which increased slightly compared to recent years. The average non-farm income in 2022 was $45,240, which represents about 38 percent of total annual non-farm expenses ($121,163) by families for family living and other uses.
· In 2022, the average farm business spent $1,281,210 for farm business operating expenses, capital purchases, and non-farm expenses. Most of these dollars were spent in local communities across the region, helping support the area’s overall economy.
FARM FINANCIAL ANALYSIS
· The average net farm income for Southern and West Central Minnesota for 2022 was $311,240, while the median net farm income for the region was $177,614. This compares to median net farm income levels of $176,426 in 2021, $102,848 in 2020, $36,547 in 2019, and $20,655 in 2018.
· As usual, there was large variation in median farm income in 2022, with top 20 percent profitability farms averaging a median net farm income of +$728,237, and the low 20 percent profitability farms with an average median net farm income of only +$13,238.
· The variation in 2022 median net farm income also tracked very closely with the gross farm receipts of farms. Farms with $1 to $2 million in gross receipts had a median net farm income of +$433,787, compared to +$224,828 for farms with a gross of $500,000 to $1 million, +$125,428 for farms with a gross of $250,000 to $500,000, and +$56,528 for farms with a gross of $100,00 to $250,000. Interestingly, there was very little difference in the profit margin between the income groups. The $100,000 to $250,000 group was at 25.1% profit margin, the $250,000 to $500,000 group at 28.4% profit margin, the $500,000 to $1 million group at 27.4% profit margin, and the $1 to $2 million group at 27.6% profit margin.
· The average farm business showed working capital of +$601,008 in 2022, which is three times higher than the average working capital three years ago in 2019. The current ratio (current assets divided by current expenses) for 2022 was 283%, which compares to 247% in 2022, 198% in 2020, and 156% in 2019. The working capital to gross revenue ratio for 2022 was 49.4%, which is more than double the level in 2018 and 2019. The working capital had declined to concerning levels for many farm operations prior to 2020, before showing significant improvement from 2020-2022.
· Another measure of the “financial health” of a farm operation is the “term debt coverage ratio”, which measures the ability of farm operations to generate adequate net farm income to cover the principal and interest payments on existing real estate and term loans. If that ratio falls below 100%, it results in the farm business being required to use working capital or non-farm income sources to cover the difference. The average term debt coverage ratio for 2022 was at the healthy level of 372%, which compares to average ratios 389% in 2021, 274% in 2020, 148% in 2019, and 91% in 2018. However, the low 20 percent profitability farms had a term debt coverage ratio of only 85% in 2022.
· Any additional cash flow dollars over and above the term debt principal and interest payments that are earned by farm operation are available for machinery replacement or other capital improvements. In 2022, the average farm had $224,856 available for those purposes, while high 20 percent profitability farms had $726,122 available. This helps explain the strong demand for new and used farm machinery, the planned grain system improvements, and other farm and non-farm upgrades that have occurred in recent months.
Overall, net returns from crop operations in 2022 were among the best ever; however, livestock profitability was much more modest. As usual, there was a wide variation in farm profit levels from the top one-third of net farm income operations as compared to other farms. The overall average financial health of many farm businesses has improved significantly during the period from 2020-2022, after declining for several years due to low profit levels. Farm profit levels were quite favorable in 2022; however, there are some “caution flags” on the horizon. These include rapidly increasing input expenses and land costs, potential declines in grain and livestock market prices, and lower levels of government payments. Complete farm business management results are available through the University of Minnesota Center for Farm Management FINBIN Program at: http://www.finbin.umn.edu/
Note - For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and Sr. Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. (Phone - (507) 381-7960)
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org) Web Site - http://www.minnstarbank.com/
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The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) Report released on May 12 projected record production levels in 2023 and a likely increase in corn and soybean ending stocks by the end the 2022-23 marketing year on August 31, 2024. U.S. wheat stocks are expected to show in slight decrease in the coming year. From a grain marketing standpoint, the initial reaction to the WASDE report was widely regarded as somewhat “bearish” for corn and soybeans and mainly neutral for wheat. USDA is projecting that the national average grain prices for both corn and soybeans will decline by nearly $2.00 per bushel for the 2023-24 marketing year, compared to 2022-23 price levels. Following are some highlights of the latest USDA WASDE Report:
Based on the May 12 USDA WASDE Report, the projected corn ending stocks for the 2022-23 marketing year are estimated at 1.417 billion bushels, which is an increase of 75 million bushels from the April Report, due to an expected reduction in corn exports of 75 million bushels. The anticipated 2022-23 corn ending stocks are an increase from 1.377 billion bushels in 2021-22 and 1.235 billion bushels in 2020-21. USDA is projecting that total U.S. corn usage for 2022-2023 13.73 billion bushels for livestock feed, ethanol, exports, etc., which is a decrease of 1.23 billion bushels or almost 9 percent compared to the 2021-22 usage level. The much lower estimated corn usage was mainly due to a rather large decrease in the estimated amount of corn used for feed in 2022-23, as well as significantly lower corn export levels, compared to a year earlier. The 2022-23 corn stock-to-use ratio is now estimated at 10.3 percent, up from 9.2 percent in 2021-22; however, the ratio remains quite tight.
The May WASDE Report also offered an initial USDA estimate for corn carryover levels in the 2023-24 marketing year, which ends on August 31, 2024. The corn ending stocks were estimated at 2.22 billion bushels, which would be an increase of 805 million bushels or 57 percent compared to the end of the 2022-23 marketing year. The 2023-24 stocks-to-use ratio is expected to increase to 15.3 percent. The projected 2023-24 ending stocks were well above the average grain-trade estimates and the carryout level would be the highest since the end of the 2016-17 marketing year. USDA is estimating the total corn supply for 2023-24 to increase by 1.56 billion bushels to just over 16.7 billion bushels, while the total corn usage for the year is only expected to increase by 755 million bushels to just over 14.48 billion bushels. USDA is forecasting increased corn usage for livestock feed and higher U.S. corn export levels in 2023-24, as well as a slight increase in usage for ethanol production.
USDA is estimating total U.S. corn production in 2023 at the record level of 15.265 billion bushels, which would be an increase of approximately 11.2 percent from the total 2022 U.S. corn production. The USDA Report expects an estimated 92 million acres of corn to be planted in the U.S. in 2023, which compares to 88.6 million acres in 2022 and 93.3 million acres in 2021. USDA is projecting the average U.S. corn yield at 181.5 bushels per acre in 2023, which is up from the average yields of 173.3 bushels per acre in 2022 and 176.7 bushels per acre in 2021. The WASDE corn yield estimate is very close to the trendline corn yield forecast at the USDA Ag Outlook Conference in February this year. Corn planting progress in 2023 has been running ahead of normal in many areas of the central and southern Corn Belt of the U.S. but is behind normal in some areas of the northern Corn Belt.
As of May 12, USDA is estimating the average U.S “on-farm” corn price for the 2022-23 marketing at $6.60 per bushel, which was the same as the April estimate. The current USDA projected corn price compares to recent final national average prices of $6.00 per bushel for 2021-22, $4.53 per bushel for 2020-21, and $3.56 per bushel for 2019-20. USDA also released the first estimated average corn price for the 2023-24 marketing year at $4.80 per bushel, which would be $1.80 per bushel lower than the estimated 2022-23 average price and $1.20 per bushel below the final 2021-22 national average price.
According to the May 12 WASDE Report, the projected soybean ending stocks for 2022-23 are estimated at 215 million bushels, which is up by 5 million bushels from the April estimate and was very close to the average grain trade estimates. The projected 2022-23 U.S. soybean ending stocks remain very tight and compare to other recent soybean carryover levels of 274 million bushels in 2021-22, 257 million bushels in 2020-21, 525 million bushels in 2019-20, and a whopping 909 million bushels in 2018-19.
Total soybean usage for 2022-23 is estimated to be just over 4.35 billion bushels, which is down slightly from the total usage of 4.465 billion bushels in 2021-22. Soybean export levels for 2022-23 are projected to decrease slightly compared to a year earlier; however, soybean sales to China have remained strong. USDA projected a slight increase in bushels used for soybean processing in the U.S for 2022-23 compared to crush levels a year earlier. Some analysts feel that domestic soybean demand may increase in the next few years with several new or expanded soybean processing plants scheduled to come on board, focusing on the production of renewable diesel.
The May WASDE Report projects soybean ending stocks to increase by 120 million bushels to 335 million bushels by the end of the 2023-24 marketing year on August 31, 2024. USDA is estimating the total U.S. soybean supply to increase by 175 million bushels in 2023-24; however, the total soybean usage is only expected to increase by 56 million bushels compared to levels for 2022-23. The projected ending soybean stocks-to-use ratio for 2023-24 is estimated at 7.6 percent, which compares to 4.9 percent in 2022-23 and 6.1 percent in 2021-22.
Total U.S. soybean production in 2023 is estimated at the record level of 4.51 billion bushels, which would be an increase from the estimated U.S. soybean production of 4.276 billion bushels in 2022 and just over 4.46 billion bushels in 2021. Interestingly, a year ago in May USDA projected the 2022 U.S. soybean production at 4.64 billion bushels and the actual 2022 production was 364 million bushels less. Planted soybean acres for 2023 are projected at 87.5 million acres, which is the same as 2022 and just above 2021 soybean acreage. USDA is estimating a national average soybean yield of 52 bushels per acre in 2023, which compares to 49.5 bushels per acre in 2022 and 51.7 bushels per acre in 2021. The record U.S. soybean yield was 52.1 bushels per acre in 2016.
USDA is estimating the U.S “on-farm” soybean average price at $12.10 per bushel for the 2023-24 marketing year, which runs from September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024. The preliminary price estimate for the 2023-24 marketing year on May 1 would be a decline of $2.10 per bushel from the 2022-23 average price and $1.20 per bushel below the final 2021-22 average price. The projected final market year average price for 2022-23 is $14.20 per bushel soybean price, which compares to final average soybean prices of $13.30 per bushel for 2021-22, $10.80 per bushel for 2020-21, $8.57 per bushel for 2019-20, and $8.48 per bushel in 2018-19. Average soybean prices for 2023-24 will likely be highly dependent on 2023 soybean production in the U.S., as well as increases in soybean crush levels and the amount of U.S. soybean exports to China and other countries.
The May 12 WASDE Report projected U.S. wheat ending stocks to decline to 556 million bushels by the end of the 2023-24 marketing year on May 31, 2023. This compares to estimated ending stocks of 598 million bushels for 2022-23 and 698 million bushels in 2021-22. Wheat demand in 2023-24 is projected to decrease slightly from the current year demand, down to 1.837 million bushels, with the decline mainly due to lower export estimates. Wheat acreage in 2023 is expected to increase to 49.9 million acres and total U.S. wheat production is expected to increase slightly in 2023 to 1.66 billion bushels. Wheat acreage and production numbers could be adjusted downward in coming months, due to planting delays in the primary spring wheat production region. USDA is projecting the average “on-farm” wheat price at $8.85 per bushel for 2022-23 and $8.00 per bushel for 2023-24, which compares to final national average price of $7.63 per bushel in 2021-22 and $5.05 per bushel in 2020-21.