Global Demand Taking Toll

Not everyone paints such a rosy economic picture; one economist notes there could be a domestic downside. The same economist does, however, expect agribusinesses to benefit.

Consumers usually reduce their purchases of goods and services if prices become too high. Buyers of U.S. corn, soybeans, and wheat seem to be ignoring that economic principle, however, as the nation’s grain stocks reach critically low levels, says Chris Hurt, a Purdue University agricultural economist.

With global demand for grain and oilseeds at record levels and a weak U.S. dollar, foreign buyers are outbidding domestic buyers for American grain. While the higher commodity prices are good for crop agriculture there are disconcerting downsides, Hurt says.

“Food consumers worldwide are going to have to pay more,” Hurt says. “We ended 2007 with our monthly inflation rate on food nearly 5 percent higher. I think we’ll see times in 2008 where the food inflation rate might be as much as 6 percent.

“I also think we’ll have discussions about food security in 2008,” he adds. “We’ll have discussions about whether we should allow the foreign sector to buy our food. Is food a strategic item that we need to keep in our country?”

For some U.S. crops, it’s almost too late. The 2007 U.S. wheat crop is virtually sold out, while domestic soybean stocks soon will fall below a 20-day supply. Corn inventories are stronger but with demand from export markets, the livestock industry and ethanol plants, supplies also could be just as scarce for the 2008 crop. The condition could become more serious if adverse weather trims U.S. crop yields this summer and fall.

The situation is reminiscent of another run on U.S. grain one generation ago, Hurt says. “This is a very rare circumstance,” he explains. “The last time we had this kind of uncertainty on food supplies was the early 1970s, when the former Soviet Union became a major buyer of wheat in the United States. In the fall of 1972 they were such aggressive buyers that they essentially bought the pantry out of our available wheat supplies.

“In 1973 we also virtually ran out of soybeans. The U.S. Congress and president responded by saying we cannot let the rest of the world have our strategic food supply, so they embargoed all foreign soybean shipments until we could replenish the supply.”

Hurt doesn’t expect a similar export prohibition this year but grain prices will have to keep climbing to slow the buying frenzy. It might take another month of grain price increases to get users to cut back, Hurt said. He estimated soybean prices could top $15 a bushel before all is said and done.

Farmland values and cash rental rates should continue rising, as producers look to expand their crop acreage to meet the grain demand, Hurt said. He also expects agribusinesses — especially those that offer seed, ag chemicals, fertilizer, machinery and financial capital — to benefit.

The challenge to satisfy the world’s hunger for grain promises to make for an interesting year, Hurt said.

“It turns out food is a security issue for every country of the world,” he said. “World agriculture has been so productive in the past 60 years that general food shortages have been rare. With this long period of abundant food supplies, most of the world’s consumers in developed countries have forgotten food’s strategic nature. Given the world’s appetite for basic crops, the hope for 2008 is for favorable yields throughout the globe that will give consumers and crop producers more time to adjust to this new high demand era.”

(Source: Purdue University)

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting Update, and CropLife 100 Preview
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection Reviews
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
ManagementVision Conference Preview, Monsanto Earnings, and Product of the Year Voting
October 7, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the upcoming PrecisionAg Vision meeting in Arizona, Monsanto’s latest revenue numbers, and Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness Leaders
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
Trending Articles
AGCO RG700 cab
OpinionRoadblocks To Precision Ag Innovation
October 5, 2016
On August 29, I got to preside over the PrecisionAg Innovation Series event, “Game-Changing Advances in Precision Farming Technology,” developed Read More
J.C. Ramsdell containment system
EquipmentClear Opportunity In The Tank Market
October 4, 2016
Crop prices may be down, but steel prices are too — and that’s good news for retailers looking to add some Read More
WinField booth Farm Progress
Special ReportsTalking Weed Management Strategies At Farm Progress 2016
October 2, 2016
The annual Farm Progress Show — this year staged in Boone, IA — is always a great place to catch Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Crop InputsBayer-Monsanto Mega-Merger: 6 Things You Need To Know
September 14, 2016
Mega mergers have become almost routine in the agricultural industry. Right on the heels of Monday’s news that fertilizer giants Potash Read More
Potash Corp Agrium
Crop InputsAgrium, Potash Corp To Merge To Create $36 Billion Company
September 12, 2016
Canada’s Agrium Inc. and Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. have agreed to combine in a deal that would create a Read More
Latest News
Kennebec Grain terminal
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Kennebec Facility Loads First Rail Cars
October 21, 2016
In a season of firsts for Wheat Growers’ Kennebec Grain Terminal, the first 115-car unit train was loaded with soybeans Read More
ManagementThe Latest Dow-DuPont Rumor, Product of the Year Voting…
October 20, 2016
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj shares a new rumor about the Dow-DuPont merger and updates on two CropLife-driven programs, the CropLife Read More
Soybean Closeup
FungicidesFMC Begins Registration Process For New Fungicide Activ…
October 19, 2016
FMC Agricultural Solutions has begun the joint U.S. EPA and Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency registration process for bixafen, a new Read More
Soil Young Corn
Industry NewsAgribusiness Search Firm Appoints New Managing Partner
October 18, 2016
Morris Bixby Group, a leading agribusiness search firm providing the highest quality professional recruiting and career advancement services since 2000, Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
FertilizerUnited Suppliers Acquires Kansas Fertilizer Business
October 17, 2016
United Suppliers, Inc. has purchased the assets of Evans Enterprises, LLC, an ammonium chloride fertilizer business based in Olathe, KS. Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsFMC Launches New Operations In Argentina, Exits Joint V…
October 17, 2016
FMC Corp. has exited its joint venture with Ruralco Soluciones S.A. FMC has launched new commercial operations, FMC Quimica S.A., Read More
Dow AgroSciences
InsecticidesRenewed Registration Issued For Products Containing Sul…
October 17, 2016
On October 14, 2016, the U.S. EPA re-established the registration of products containing sulfoxaflor (Isoclast Active), including Transform WG, Closer Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Whys Of Agriculture
October 17, 2016
During 2016, there have been myriad challenges facing the whole agricultural industry. Such wide ranging issues as water protection, sustainable Read More
Young Corn Field
FertilizerImproved Phosphorus Management Essential To Feeding Wor…
October 14, 2016
With a global population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050, improved management of key essential nutrients such as Read More
ManagementHarvest and Crop Price Updates; EPA and Crop Protection…
October 13, 2016
Glyphosate and atrazine get public comment support from ARA as each is reviewed by EPA, and the latest on the Read More
Matt Hopkins15 Twitter Accounts Every Ag Professional Must Follow
October 13, 2016
What do singer Katy Perry and the President of the United States have in common? They are two of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsArysta LifeScience Adds Two Key Account Managers
October 13, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the addition of two key account managers: Doug Hoberty and Rob Wier. Hoberty and Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Development Deal with Scherer Design
October 12, 2016
Deere & Co. announces a joint development agreement with Scherer Design Engineering, Inc. to develop and commercialize kernel processing solutions Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Celebrates 10 Years Of Innovati…
October 12, 2016
Richard Rominger, former Deputy Secretary of the USDA and former agricultural secretary of California, emceed a 10th anniversary luncheon celebration on Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Industry NewsVive Crop Protection Closes Financing To Support Corpor…
October 11, 2016
Vive Crop Protection has announced the closing of growth financing to support 2017 commercial expansion. The financing was led by Read More
SoftwareHD Precision Analytics Launches New Mobile App For Agri…
October 11, 2016
AGSentry from HD Precision Analytics is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that offers simple data service and actionable analytics tool. It focuses Read More
HerbicidesWeed Control And Soil Health Go Hand-in-Hand
October 10, 2016
Although many landowners may not give much thought to weed control as a soil health measure, Gared Shaffer, South Dakota Read More
Students Soybean Field
Eric Sfiligoj2016 Young Leaders Speak
October 10, 2016
One of the consistent cries in agriculture today is the need to try and connect with the younger generations, attempting Read More