Global Changes Could Impact U.S. Farmers' Spring Planting Intentions Says USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson

Global Changes Could Impact U.S. Farmers' Spring Planting Intentions Says USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson
Apr 06, 2020

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In light of how things have significantly changed around the world in the last 30 days due to the COVID-19 crisis , the number of corn and soybean acres farmers said they would plant this year, as indicated in the March 31 USDA Prospective Plantings Report, could change before spring planting gets underway. That was one of the key points brought out during a University of Illinois Extension farmdoc webinar April 3 featuring Rob Johansson, USDA chief economist.
 
Things have changed since late February and early March when farmers completed the plantings survey, Johansson said. For example, soybeans have strengthened relatively to corn since early February, suggesting those two acreage numbers could change in the next report.
 
The USDA’s prospective plantings survey results indicate farmers intend to plant 97 million acres of corn, and 83.5 million acres of soybeans. Compared to USDA’s February estimates, corn planted acres increased by 3 million. The report also indicates farmers intend to plant 7.3 million more corn acres than in 2019, a projected 8% year-over-year increase. The prospective soybean acres are 1.5 million acres fewer than USDA’s February estimates, but up 7.4 million acres, or 10%, compared to 2019’s significantly low soybean production year of 76.1 million planted acres.
 
The numbers suggest farmers may move more acres into soybeans rather than corn this year.
 
The real challenge is trying to determine the COVID-19 impact on farmers’ planting intentions. Johansson used the 2008-9 recession to draw some conclusions.
 
We did see a dramatic decline on cotton, dairy and cattle receipts at the height of that recession, Johansson said.
As global growth declines this year, we will likely see a quick recover moving out into 2021-22, he said.
 
The USDA chief economist also said the $9.5 billion tagged for agriculture producers in the CARES Act could be distributed to a wide array of producers.
The spending authority includes support for a broad range of ag producers, Johansson said.
 
Another topic covered by Johansson was the COVID-19 impact on China’s ability to fulfill commitments under the Phase One trade deal. Johansson said it is feasible China will be able to meet its commitment by the end of the year but more likely it will spill into 2021.
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