Iowa Farm Outlook & News

Headlines
  • Dec. 2017 Hogs and Pigs: All Hogs and Pigs:
       U.S.: 73.230 million head, up 2.4% from last year
       Iowa: 22.800 million head, up 2.7% from last year
  • Dec. 2017 Hogs and Pigs: Breeding Herd:
       U.S.: 6.179 million head, up 1.1% from last year
       Iowa: 1.000 million head, down 2.9% from last year
  • Dec. 2017 Hogs and Pigs: Market Hogs:
       U.S.: 67.051 million head, up 2.5% from last year
       Iowa: 21.800 million head, up 3.0% from last year
  • Dec. 2017 Prices for 2017/18 Crops:
       Corn $3.20 per bushel, steady with last month
       Soybean $9.30 per bushel, steady with last month
  • Nov. 2017 Yield for 2017/18 U.S. Crops:
       Corn 175.4 bushels per acre, up 3.6 bushels from last month
       Soybean 49.5 bushels per acre, steady with last month
  • Nov. 2017 Yield for 2017/18 Iowa Crops:
       Corn 197.0 bushels per acre, up 6 bushels from last month
       Soybean 56.0 bushels per acre, steady with last month
Livestock
Cow-Calf (1/1/18)

Cow-calf operations remained profitable in 2017, and were big beneficiaries of the fall rally in calf prices. Cattle feeders also made money in 2017. In fact, estimates put their returns at the second highest since 2003, not all that much lower than the phenomenal level in 2014. Calendar year 2017 was full of dichotomies when it came to cattle prices. Using the year over year measuring stick, cattle prices were lower in the first half and higher in the second half. The demand for feeder cattle from feedlots in the second half of the year was one of the surprises of the cattle market in 2017. A combination of a favorable, for feed, corn crop and strong live cattle futures prices for 2018 provided the foundation for excellent feeder cattle demand and the positive price pattern. In calendar year 2017, calf and yearling prices averaged above 2016's on an annual basis, fed cattle were about the same. For the year, the price average for calves (500 to 600 pound steers) and yearlings (700 to 800 pound steers) in Iowa was $172.48 and $150.50 per cwt, respectively, and the Iowa/Minnesota average fed cattle price was $120.88 per cwt. Cattle prices in 2018 are expected to average close to fourth quarter 2017 levels, though they will likely be lower than 2017 for year over year averages.

Crops
What the Market Didn't Want to Hear (11/9/17)

USDA released its November updates today and the numbers were not what the markets wanted to hear. Corn supplies continue to charge higher as yields are better than expected, reaching another surprising record. Corn usage is still relatively strong, but the projected changes in feed and export use are not enough to stop another increase in ending stocks and a continuation of lower prices. Soybean supplies were already projected at record levels, so the small production adjustment by USDA today did not change that outlook. And the adjustments to soybean usage do not change the general story in that market as well. So it was an update we needed, but did not want.

Looking within the numbers, the big push in production came from the northern corn crop. State estimates from North Dakota to Indiana jumps 6 to 8 bushels per acre as the corn harvest reaches its latter stages. The fears of the yield impacts from this year's drought turned out to be much larger than the actual yield impacts. With the national yield now projected at a record 175.4 bushels per acre, the record national yield will be set without Illinois, Indiana, or Iowa being at a record as well.

For soybeans, the bigger storyline is the global supply and demand situation. Usage is up, but supplies continue to grow faster. Overall, Chinese imports of soybeans from all sources are projected to reach 97 million tons (or 3.56 billion bushels), up 3.5 million tons from last year. But global soybean usage is not enough to prevent global ending stocks from growing another 1.6 million tons over the current marketing year.

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