National Ag News for March 13, 2023

Higher Interest Rates Slow the Growth in Farmland Values

Farm real estate values increased considerably in 2022 but showed signs of softening during the final months of the year as interest rates rose sharply. Interest rates on farm loans jumped to decade highs alongside increases in the federal funds rate. The Kansas City Fed says while the value of most types of farmland continued to rise, the increase was the slowest since early 2021. Agricultural credit conditions remained strong in the fourth quarter and continued to be bolstered by broad strength in the farm economy throughout 2022. The outlook for agricultural credit conditions looking ahead to the rest of 2023 also remained generally positive, despite some ongoing concerns. Elevated commodity prices continued to support profit opportunities for many producers across the farm sector. However, there are persistent concerns about operating expenses, higher interest rates, and intense drought. Improvement in farm income and credit conditions has softened slightly in recent months.

USDA Investing $29 Million in More American-Made Fertilizer Production

The USDA announced it received over 350 applications for $3 billion in funding to expand domestic fertilizer production capacity. The applications came from 47 states and two territories for the first two rounds of a new grant program to add innovative domestic fertilizer production capacity. USDA also announced the first $29 million in grant offers under the first round that focused on projects that can come online in the near term. The grants will help independent businesses produce more American-made fertilizer, which will spur competition, give U.S. farmers more choices and better prices, and reduce dependence on several unreliable foreign sources. “I know that increased costs for fertilizer and other inputs have put a strain on farmers and cut into the bottom line,” Vilsack says. “By expanding domestic fertilizer production, we can grow independent local businesses, bring production and jobs to rural communities, and support fairer prices for our farmers.”   

Bioscience Groups Call For Action on Mexico’s Biotech Corn Ban

The National Corn Growers Association and a broad coalition of national and state agriculture and bioscience organizations sent a letter to the White House on Mexico’s GMO corn ban. The groups thanked the Biden administration for beginning technical consultations with Mexico. “We support your request for a consultation with Mexico regarding its treatment of agricultural biotechnology and denying the use of certain crop protection tools to provide a framework and timeline to resolve this issue,” the 62 groups wrote. “We look forward to these consultations beginning promptly.” They also say Mexico’s GMO corn ban draws a non-science based distinction between corn for food and corn for feed and industrial uses and is inconsistent with USMCA obligations. The ag and biotechnology groups reiterated the importance of beginning the legal process to not only resolve the dispute with Mexico but also prevent other countries from following suit. “Send a strong signal on enforcement,” they added.

The March Oil Crops Outlook Lowers U.S. Soybean Ending Stocks

The USDA’s March Oil Crops Outlook lowered U.S. seasonal ending soybean stocks for the 2022-2023 marketing year by 15 million bushels to a total of 210 million because of higher exports. Soybean exports are raised by 25 million bushels to 2.02 billion bushels, while crush volumes are reduced by 10 million bushels to 2.2 billion bushels. The 2022-2023 global soybean supply is reduced this month due to lower production in Argentina and Uruguay. Argentina’s soybean production is lowered by eight million metric tons to 33 million metric tons on a lower harvested area and yields hit hard by drought. World soybean consumption is down 5.3 million metric tons this month. Global ending stocks were lowered to 100 million metric tons. Through March 2, cumulative marketing year U.S. soybean export inspections surpassed 2021-2022 totals as inspections to China surged and increased for Mexico. February’s export inspections set a record thanks to Brazil’s slow harvest.

USDA Announces Cost-Share Assistance for Grain Storage

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that producers in counties affected by eligible disaster events can apply for cost-share assistance through the Emergency Grain Storage Facility Assistance Program. Farmers in Kentucky, Minnesota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee are eligible for the program. It provides cost-share assistance for constructing new grain storage capacity and drying and handling seeds in order to support the orderly marketing of commodities. “Weather events in 2021 and 2022 in several states caused catastrophic losses to grain storage facilities on family farms as well as large commercial grain elevators, leaving stored grain exposed to the elements and affecting storage and commodity marketing options for many producers,” Vilsack says. “This new program will provide cost-share assistance to help producers address their on-farm storage capacity needs that are necessary for marketing grain.” Eligible natural disasters occurred from December 1, 2021, to August 1, 2022.

NPPC Wants Beagle Brigade Act Passed Quickly

The National Pork Producers Council applauded the reintroduction of the Beagle Brigade Act of 2023. This legislation would provide congressional authority to the USDA’s National Detector Dog Training Center, which is a vital program in training agricultural canine teams that work daily to prevent foreign animal and plant diseases from entering the U.S. “Safe and reliable food production is critical to the United States’ continued national and economic security,” says Terry Wolters, NPPC President. “As African Swine Fever continues to plague the Dominican Republic and Haiti, strengthening early detection capabilities at our U.S. borders is more important than ever.” The “Beagle Brigade” serves as the first line of defense for early detection at the nation’s ports of entry and is critical for keeping foreign animal diseases out of the country. NPPC led more than 50 agricultural and other organizations in supporting the Beagle Brigade Act’s reintroduction and urges Congress to pass it.  


By Tucker Allmer - The BARN

Tucker Allmer & the BARN are members of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), the Colorado FFA Foundation, the Colorado 4H Foundation, the Colorado Farm Show Marketing Committee, 1867 Club Board Member, Denver Ag & Livestock Club Member, the Weld County Fair Board, the Briggsdale FFA Advisory Council, Briggsdale 4H Club Beef Leader & Founder / Coordinator of the Briggsdale Classic Open Jackpot Show.