In The News

Feb 16, 2024

Breaking Down 5 Projections in the USDA 2024 Corn Outlook

Key Issues: Production

Author: Krista Swanson

USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook this week providing an initial look at the 2024/25 marketing year projections that include lower production, greater domestic use, increased exports, and higher ending stocks as compared to the current 2023/24 market years. The following is a summary and some additional context for five projections from the latest outlook.   Yield Corn yield is projected at 181 bushels per acre. Yield projections depend on the modeling approach and time series used. While a 3.7 bushel per acre increase over the 2023 record 177.3 bushels per acre may seem like a stretch, a regression on annual yields from 2023 to several different historical points including 1934, 1980, and 1996 all predict 2024 yields within about one bushel of the USDA projection.   Trendline yields are a reasonable expectation at this point. Adverse weather is generally thought to have a negative impact on yields but in 2023 a record yield was achieved in a year with widespread...

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Feb 9, 2024

Climate, Conflict, & Currency Impact Cost Competitiveness for U.S. Corn Exports

Key Issues: Trade

Author: Krista Swanson

A combination of climate, conflict, and currency values are factors in cost competitiveness that impacts transits and overall U.S. corn exports.   Climate Climate conditions brought widespread drought to the United States Corn Belt in 2023. Dry conditions in the Mississippi River basin led to record low water levels. As a result, barge weight and traffic restrictions were imposed, and the 7.7 million tons of corn moved by barge on the Mississippi River in 2023 was 30% lower than 2022 and 54% lower than 2021. Ultimately, the cost of added time and weight restrictions were factors contributing to a higher corn price at port but also meant pace of getting grain to the port was slowed.   Climate-induced waterway challenges for U.S. corn don’t end at the Gulf. Extreme drought has forced substantial scaleback of shipping through the Panama Canal, a key global maritime channel. The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has reduced traffic to 24 ships a day, about two-thirds of the normal...

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Jan 17, 2024

EP. 44 - Ethanol’s Past, Present and Future as a Benefit for Corn, with Scott Irwin, Bradley Schad and Julie Busse

Key Issues: EthanolHigh-Octane Low-Carbon

Author: Dusty Weis

How the Renewable Fuel Standard has changed the corn industry, and what’s on the horizon for this key sector.   Since its adoption in 2005, no other piece of policy has changed the corn industry more than the Renewable Fuel Standard. Ethanol has become one of the most important markets for corn in that time.   But over the last couple of years, there are new developments that could be major boon for this crucial sector.   So in this episode, we're going to talk with a few ethanol experts to get their perspectives on how that market has developed, where it's at today, and where they’re hoping it will go in the future.   Joining us are agricultural economist Scott Irwin from the University of Illinois; Julie Busse, a member of the National Corn Growers Association ethanol team; and Bradley Schad, the CEO of the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Corn Growers Association.   They’ll provide some important context about ethanol’s history as a fuel, and also tell...

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Dec 1, 2023

Drought & River Transport Impact on Corn Competitiveness

Key Issues: TradeTransportation and Infrastructure

Author: Krista Swanson

For the second year in a row, drought conditions are impacting transportation on the Mississippi River at the peak shipment point of the year. Shallower river levels mean barge weight restrictions, slower barge traffic, and higher costs to ship commodities on the river. Ultimately, this translates to a relatively lower price at the farmgate and higher cost for the world buyer.   Drought Slows Grain Barge Traffic in 2022 and 2023 The Mississippi River is an important channel for commodity transportation. The USDA reports the final mode of transport was barge for 13% of U.S. grains in 2020, and 46% of exported U.S. grains[i]. There are normally two peaks in grain barge movements, one in late summer leading up to the end of the marketing year for corn and soybeans, and the other emerging in the fall harvest season and into the post-harvest months.   The impact of low water levels on grain barge movements was notable in 2023, marking the second consecutive year of drought...

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May 22, 2023

EP. 43 - The First Step is Giving a Darn: Mental Health on the Farm, with Jeff Ditzenberger and Dr. Josie Rudolphi

Author: Dusty Weis

In honor of Mental Health Month, we talk with a former grower who uses his past struggles with suicide to help others today.   The suicide rate among farmers is three and a half times higher than the general population. It’s a shocking statistic.   We’re losing good people, but we don’t have to.   From weather to markets, to prices, to the issues that come with a family business, farmers face a number of stressors that are unique to their occupation. And in rural America, suicide rates increased 46% from 2000-2020, compared to 27.3% in metro areas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   So one of the National Corn Growers Association action teams is working with partners across the industry to spread the message that saying something could mean everything. In this episode, two of those partners share their stories and their expertise.   Jeff Ditzenberger is a former grower from southern Wisconsin who uses his past struggles with suicide to help...

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Mar 28, 2023

EP. 42 - Bank Failures and the Rural Economy, with NCGA Lead Economist Krista Swanson

Author: Dusty Weis

Instability at some high-profile financial institutions is on growers' minds. Should we be worried?   The Silicon Valley Bank collapse, and the sudden perception that there’s instability in the banking system, has a lot of us thinking back to 2008 and the financial crisis that spurred the Great Recession.   And, whether it’s the war in Ukraine, lingering supply-side issues from COVID-19, or high-interest rates, we are all feeling the effects of the world economy a little more acutely this year.   So are we staring down another financial crisis, or just feeling a little economic speed bump?   For some perspectives on those questions, and what it means for corn growers, we’re joined in this episode by Krista Swanson, the National Corn Growers Association’s lead economist.   She provides some much-needed context, and an informed take on what the farm economy might have in store for us over the next few years.     Direct Share Link: 

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Feb 6, 2023

EP. 41 - Holding the Line Against Mexico’s Decree: NCGA’s Capitol Hill Briefing

Key Issues: Trade

Author: Dusty Weis

The unnecessary ban on biotech corn would take effect next year, cost 32,000 U.S. jobs annually, and worsen food insecurity in Mexico.   A major disruption to the market for U.S. corn is set to take effect in one year, as a decree by Mexico’s President would ban the import of GMO corn effective January 31, 2024.   Historically, Mexico is the number one market for U.S. corn, and so it should surprise no one that the NCGA has been active in pushing back, with strong support from the Biden administration in Washington.   NCGA is urging the administration to hold the line and file a dispute settlement under the USMCA to hold Mexico accountable to their obligations under that trade agreement.   In order to build awareness of the issue in Congress, on January 31 NCGA held a well-attended briefing for Congressional staffers with an all-star panel of experts:   Congressman Adrian Smith from Nebraska, chair of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Acting Deputy...

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Dec 15, 2022

EP. 40 - Newly-Elected Rep from Illinois Angles for Farm Issues & Bipartisanship, with Rep-Elect Nikki Budzinski

Author: Dusty Weis

With roots in farm country, one Congressional freshman says she wants to find common ground in Washington.   When she is sworn in on January 3, 2023, Congresswoman-Elect Nikki Budzinski will be tasked with representing the interests of farmers in a vast swath of the state, all the way from Champaign to Springfield to just north of St. Louis.   It’s the heart of corn country, and she knows that agriculture will factor heavily in many of the issues she will have to address in Washington.   But Budzinski, a Democrat, also represents an evenly-divided constituency that previously elected a Republican to the seat. And she recognizes that it’s more important than ever to build bridges, find common ground and strive toward bipartisanship in the Capitol.   In this episode, we ask the newly-elected Congresswoman what she sees as the biggest issues that growers face today, how she’s planning to go to bat for America’s farmers, and what it’s like going to a place like Washington as a...

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Nov 16, 2022

EP. 39 - Inflation, Interest Rates & the Farm Economy, with Todd Van Hoose from the Farm Credit Council

Author: Dusty Weis

Like other moments of economic uncertainty, this too shall pass... but how soon, and how much damage will it do?   Inflationary costs—and rising interest rates—are hitting growers where it hurts worldwide.   Add to these worries the impact of the North American drought, transportation and logistics headaches, and other market uncertainties, and growers may feel like the high price of corn is the only good news they've heard in more than a year.   But what do you need to know to maintain your operation in this changing economic situation? What tools do we have to keep operating costs from spiraling out-of-control? And how much worse is it going to get before it gets better?   In this episode, we’re talking to Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council, for the answers.   Plus, we send our best to Jon Doggett, NCGA CEO and podcast host, as he nears his retirement date.     Direct Share Link: 

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Sep 28, 2022

EP. 38 - Winning in the Margins for Corn, with Outgoing NCGA President Chris Edgington

Key Issues: Farm Policy

Author: Dusty Weis

As Chris Edgington wraps up his term as NCGA President, we look back at the meaningful progress corn growers made in 2022.   2022 has been another one of those years that throws a lot of curve balls at you.   But in the world of agriculture, you can’t just hit home runs all the time.   It might not get the headlines, but the real work gets done in the singles and doubles that you hit, and you’ve got to hit those reliably.   And so in this episode, we look back at some of the wins for the industry that you might not have heard about, with outgoing NCGA President Chris Edgington as he winds down his term in office.   From tariffs on inputs to new regulations, the association has battled back against developments that would have cost farmers dearly. At the same time, new support for ethanol fuel is moving forward in Washington and could be a huge boon to growers.   Make sure to REGISTER YOUR CONCERNS WITH THE EPA about its plans to revise registration for atrazine, which...

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For media inquiries contact Bryan Goodman, goodman@ncga.com