Iowa Farm Outlook & News

  • Jan. 2018 Cattle: All Cattle and Calves:
       U.S.: 94.399 million head, up 0.7% from last year
       Iowa: 4.0 million head, up 2.6% from last year
  • Jan. 2018 Cattle: Beef Cows:
       U.S.: 31.723 million head, up 1.6% from last year
       Iowa: 970,000 head, up 0.5% from last year
  • Jan. 2018 Cattle: Heifers for Beef Cow Replacement:
       U.S.: 6.131 million head, down 3.7% from last year
       Iowa: 165,000 head, down 10.8% from last year
  • Jan. 2018 Cattle: Cattle on Feed:
       U.S.: 14.006 million head, up 7.2% from last year
       Iowa: 1.26 million head, up 8.6% from last year
  • Mar. 2018 Prices for 2017/18 Crops:
       Corn $3.35 per bushel, up 5 cents from last month
       Soybean $9.30 per bushel, steady with last month
  • Jan. 2018 Yield for 2017/18 U.S. Crops:
       Corn 176.6 bushels per acre, up 1.2 bushels from last month
       Soybean 48.4 bushels per acre, down 1.1 bushels from last month
  • Jan. 2018 Yield for 2017/18 Iowa Crops:
       Corn 202.0 bushels per acre, down 1 bushel from last year
       Soybean 56.5 bushels per acre, down 3.5 bushels from last year
Cattle (3/1/18)

USDA's annual Cattle inventory report issued at the end of January contains the most detailed and extensive new numbers on cattle inventories for the year just completed. To obtain the data, USDA's National Ag Statistics Service surveyed a random sample of 36,300 U.S. operators. That's the most of any USDA cattle survey. NASS asked producers to report inventories as of January 1, 2018 by mail, telephone, internet and face-to-face personal interviews. Response to the survey is voluntary. The NASS cattle data series also includes the mid-year Cattle report and monthly Cattle on Feed reports. Estimated inventories underlie analysis that can affect markets. Such market impacting analysis may come directly from NASS reports, but often reaches users through news and information sources that depend on NASS estimates to form inferences. Industry analysts combine survey data with statistical analysis to make production and marketing forecasts. The quality of the NASS information and reliability of analyst's forecasts depend heavily on a high level of producer participation in these surveys. The industry and analysts need consistency across data to make "apple-to-apple" comparisons. As the number of respondents falls, the statistical reliability of estimates and forecasts decline and the value of NASS estimates for many other purposes deteriorates as well. Producers should watch for the USDA/NASS surveys that are mailed to them, and respond. Your information matters!

Mixed Messages on Demand (3/9/18)

The latest set of USDA reports provided some mixed messages to the crop markets. For corn, the storyline was positive. The ethanol industry has continued to utilize more corn throughout the year, partially driven by a spike in ethanol exports at the end of 2017. Corn exports have also surged as we entered 2018 and USDA raised their export projection for the 2017 crop by 175 million bushels. Combined, those shifts shave 225 million bushels off of expected ending stocks and would put projected ending stocks from the 2018 crop roughly at 2 billion bushels. Based on these shifts, USDA lifted its season-average price projection for the 2017 crop by 5 cents per bushel to $3.35. Meanwhile, for soybeans, the monthly World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report provided some negative news and the weekly Export Sales report showed some positive news. The WASDE report indicated that domestic usage rose slightly, adding 10 million bushels to the crush, but exports were cut by 35 million. However, the Export Sales report showed China strengthening their position in the soybean market, bringing their soybean purchases closer to the pattern from last year. With all of this said, it's likely that the market focus will shift to the possibilies of what the steel and aluminum tariffs could mean for agricultural markets. Agricultural products are often the targets of retaliatory actions and any retaliation at this point could jeopardize the recent growth in the international crop markets.