Waiting for Fewer Crop Acres


by David A. Widmar

The biggest take-away from the USDA’s March projections of 2016 crop acres was, at a high-level, “too many” acres. While this was especially true for corn, it applies more broadly as well. Given slower growth in demand for agricultural commodities and several years of above-trend yields, the U.S. and global commodity markets are signaling that inventories are abundant. In fact, the market has pivoted from “too few” acres (especially after the drought of 2012) to “too many” acres. This week we take a big-picture look at U.S. crop acres. Continue reading

2015 Net Farm Income Estimate Turn More Pessimistic


by David Widmar and Brent Gloy

Last week the USDA’s updated estimate of U.S. net farm income in 2015 was ratcheted lower. Earlier this spring, estimates were that net farm income would be substantially lower than the recent highs, but returning to levels near the long-run average (as we pointed out here). The latest estimate, however, casts a more pessimistic outlook for 2015 and the subject of this week’s post. Continue reading

A Sorghum Story, Part II

In the coffee shops of agricultural communities all across the country, producers like to talk about the weather. And weather is important because it is, arguably, the single largest driver of their favorite part of production agriculture, yields. Whether it’s grass in pastures or corn in Iowa, yields are important to farmers for many reasons.

Humans have made great advancements in crop yields over time. Yield improvements have been critical in avoiding the tragedy of population limits Thomas Malthus predicted in 1798. Some of those most recent and successful advance has been the yield growth of corn. So how does sorghum stacked up?  Continue reading