Iowa Farm Outlook & News

Headlines
  • Mar. 2018 Planted Area for 2018/19 U.S. Crops:
       Corn 88.0 million acres, down 2.14 million from last year
       Soybean 89.0 million acres, down 1.16 million from last year
  • Mar. 2018 Planted Area for 2018/19 Iowa Crops:
       Corn 13.3 million acres, steady with last year
       Soybean 9.8 million acres, down 200,000 acres from last year
  • Mar. 2018 Crop Stocks, as of March 1:
       Corn 8.89 billion bushels, up 3% from last year
       Soybean 2.11 billion bushels, up 21% from last year
  • Mar. 2018 Hogs & Pigs: All Hogs & Pigs:
       U.S.: 72.908 million head, up 3.1% from last year
       Iowa: 22.600 million head, up 4.6% from last year
  • Mar. 2018 Hogs & Pigs: Breeding Herd:
       U.S.: 6.200 million head, up 1.7% from last year
       Iowa: 1.020 million head, up 2.0% from last year
  • Mar. 2018 Hogs & Pigs: Market Hogs:
       U.S.: 66.708 million head, up 3.3% from last year
       Iowa: 21.580 million head, up 4.8% from last year
Livestock
Hogs and Pigs (4/5/18)

The U.S. and Canada historically have had relatively unrestricted trade in livestock and meat. U.S. producers and other market participants should watch Canadian supplies, as production trends there have a direct impact on the U.S. markets. Joint publications from USDA's National Ag Statistics Service and Statistics Canada every March and August report livestock inventories. The total cattle inventory in Canada as of January 1, 2018 was estimated at 11.625 million head, 105,000 head (0.9%) higher than January 1, 2017. Despite that rise, Canadian cattle inventories are still 615,000 head smaller than the last peak in 2013 and 3.3 million head smaller than the peak in 2005. Profits have encouraged U.S. cow-calf producers to expand over the last several years. But that has not been the case in Canada. The January 1, 2018 Canadian beef cow herd was estimated at 3.710 million head, up less than 1% from a year earlier (just 29,500 head larger) and down 1.574 million head (30%) from the peak in 2005. Canadian producers have been retaining more heifers for beef cow replacement since at least 2011 but that has had little impact on overall beef cow numbers in Canada. While the Canadian cattle industry may be, at best, stabilizing, the Canadian pork industry appears to have found some legs. The total inventory of hogs and pigs as of January 1, 2018 was 14.325 million head, 380,000 head (2.7%) larger than a year ago. The breeding herd has been slowly growing, gaining another 1.3% in 2017 compared to the year before. The growth in the size of the breeding herd and continuing improvements in productivity (more pigs per litter) sets the stage for further expansion in North American hog supplies.

Crops
Acreage Shifts (3/29/18)

With the release of the Prospective Plantings report, USDA showed that US farmers intend to plant less corn and soybeans this year. The average market estimates going into the report were for 89 million acres of corn and 91 million acres of soybeans. The report listed 88 million acres for corn and 89 million acres for soybeans. Based on the news, the early reaction from the crop markets was positive, with corn prices lifting by 5-10 cents and soybean prices rising 15-20 cents. Spring wheat and cotton snagged some land from corn and soybeans, but there was also a drop in total planted area across the country. Iowa producers indicated they will plant roughly the same amount of corn, 13.3 million acres, and a few less soybeans, 9.8 million acres.

USDA also released the Grain Stocks update. The news there was less positive. Corn and soybean stocks are higher than a year ago. The numbers were at the high end of trade estimates. Corn stocks were up 3 percent, while soybean stocks were 21 percent higher. For both crops, disappearance during the December-February timeframe was below last year's pace. But for now, the markets are more concerned about potential crop production than remaining supplies.

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