Exports, strong prices buoying American farmers
U.S. agriculture is booming even as the broader economy struggles to recover from recession, with exports heading to a record level and farmers’ profits near an all-time high.
Shipments of farm goods may have hit $126.5 billion in the year that ended Sept. 30, as the United States shipped wheat to drought-stricken Russia and boosted sales to China, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said last week. Net farm income will rise 31 percent to $81.6 billion this calendar year as crop prices climb and livestock sales increase, according to a separate USDA forecast.
“Farmers have weathered the Great Recession with rising incomes and exports,” said Robert Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We hope it continues.” Farmers experienced a 28 percent plunge in profits in 2009.
Exports and rising domestic demand are fueling the prosperity, Stallman said. Wheat, corn and soybean prices in Chicago are up at least 19 percent this year on tightened supplies and higher global consumption. Cattle and hog futures have gained at least 16 percent.
Grain and oilseed crop values will reach $174.2 billion in 2010, up 3.1 percent from last year, the USDA said. The value of livestock production is forecast to jump almost 17 percent to $139 billion as exports to Asian markets rise.