U. S. Crops, China Becomes Top Soy User

U. S. farmers will grow the second-largest corn and soybean crops on record this year – 13.134 billion bushels of corn and 3.213 billion bushels of soybeans, just below the records set in 2009, said a University of Missouri think-tank March 9.

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute also said U. S. wheat production would drop by 11 per cent, to 1.965 billion bushels, while upland cotton would surge 28 per cent, to 15.3 million bales weighing 480 lbs. (218 kg).

In a report, FAPRI said U. S. economic recovery will boost demand – and prices – for meat and dairy products, so the livestock sector would lead an overall farm-sector upturn.Netfarm income, a gauge of profitability, will rise by $10 billion this year, it said, after a $30-billion drop last year.

Scott Brown, FAPRI’s livestock analyst, said cheese prices have fallen since the start of the year, which could compromise the expected recovery in milk prices this year. The farm gate price for milk in 2009 was the lowest in three decades.

“It could be anemic relative to what folks were hoping for,” said Brown. “I expect there will be a lot more pressure (on lenders and producers) in the next two to three months.”

Farmers will expand corn plantings by three per cent, to 89.5 million acres, this year for a crop of 13.134 billion bushels, said FAPRI. Soybean sowings would drop by one per cent, to 76.6 million acres, for a crop of 3.213 billion bushels.

FAPRI’s forecasts are similar to estimates by private consultant Informa Economics and U. S. Agriculture Department projections.

Some 4.63 billion bushels, slightly more than one-third of this year’s corn crop, will be used to make fuel ethanol in 2010-11, FAPRI said. USDA says 4.5 billion bushels will be used.

China, the No. 1 soybean importer, will surpass the United States as the world’s largest soybean consumer this marketing year, said FAPRI’s wing at Iowa State University. Within a few years, China will account for two-thirds of world net soybean imports and one-fourth of soybean consumption.

The Iowa State unit also forecast China to become a net corn (maize) importer in 2011-12, mostly for livestock feed.

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