Record corn crop, rising commodity prices usher in promising new year for farmers

Source: By Robert Pore, Grand Island Independent • Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021

FILE: Cornfield
In this July 11, 2018, file photo, a field of corn grows in front of an old windmill in Pacific Junction, Iowa. The USDA reported an average yield of 181 bushels per acre. That’s down one bushel from last year. Farmers harvested 9.89 million acres of corn for grain, up 1% from 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File )

While the markets may not have been in the farmers’ corner for most of the year and the COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc, there was no question about the producers’ ability to produce in 2020.

And with commodity prices on the rise, farmers are ringing in the new year on a promising note.

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported recently that corn-for-grain production in Nebraska, based on year-end surveys, is estimated at a record-high 1.79 billion bushels. That’s up slightly from 2019.

The USDA reported an average yield of 181 bushels per acre. That’s down one bushel from last year. Farmers harvested 9.89 million acres of corn for grain, up 1% from 2019.

Corn-for-silage production is 4.94 million tons, up 7% from last year. Silage yield of 19 tons per acre is down 4 tons from last year. Corn-for-silage harvested acreage of 260,000 acres is up 60,000 acres from last year.

Corn acreage planted for all purposes totaled 10.2 million acres, up 1% from 2019.

Nebraska’s second-largest crop, soybeans, for 2020 totaled 294 million bushels, up 4% from 2019.

Yield, at 57 bushels per acre, is down 1.5 bushels from a year earlier. Area for harvest, at 5.16 million acres, is up 7% from 2019. Planted acreage totaled 5.2 million acres, up 6% from the previous year.

While the COVID-19 pandemic, trade problems and low commodity prices hurt farmers last year, the situation is turning around as commodity prices are rising. Global supplies have tightened, and China is making large purchases as its economy rebounds from the pandemic.

Last month, the USDA reported that net farm income is forecast to increase from $36 billion to $119.6 billion in 2020.

According to the USDA, in inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars, net farm income is forecast to increase by $35 billion from 2019, rising for the fourth consecutive year.

“If realized, net farm income in 2020 in inflation-adjusted terms would be at its highest level since 2013, 32.0 percent above its 2000-19 average of $90.6 billion,” the USDA reported.

That is good news for an agricultural-based economy like Grand Island and Nebraska have.

The USDA said net cash farm income is forecast to increase from $24.7 billion to $134.1 billion in 2020. Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to increase by $23.4 billion (21.1%) from 2019, which would put it at its highest level since 2014. That is 22.5% more than its 2000-19 average ($109.5 billion).

Direct government farm payments are forecast to have been $46.5 billion in 2020, an increase of $24 billion (107.1%). The expected growth is because of supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief, according to the USDA.

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