Domestically, corn demand has been very strong for animal feed, as poultry and hog producers have maintained production in anticipation of a stellar 2013 harvest. On the other hand, export market is characterized as "extremely weak," as overseas orders for U.S. corn are on pace to fall to a 41-year low.
Wheat has remained generally bearish, CoBank adds. Despite poor crop conditions in hard red winter wheat areas, prices have been falling steadily since autumn.
For beef, cattle markets began 2013 with a tight inventory and compressed-to-negative margins, particularly for packers and feeders.
Dairy experienced a rough first quarter this year, with class III prices down precipitously in January and leveling off in the $17-$17.40 range through mid-March. Continued high feed prices, slower-than-expected contraction in the cow herd, higher production per cow, disappointing year-end exports and sluggish demand in the late-2012, early-2013 period have caused depression in the industry.
Sugar prices are likely to continue slipping, CoBank believes, as 2012-13 production is estimated at a record 9.16 million tons.
Among fruits, nuts and vegetables, some niches are doing better than others, CoBank reports. But the industry faces costly new U.S. Food $30,000 to implement, while smaller operations may face a $13,000 cost.
Input costs for ag this year could see some relief in fertilizer prices, which the bank expects will "abate slightly." USDA, notes the bank, projects a 5.8% increase in total farm production expenses this year, driven mostly by prices rather than volume used, based on the outlook for fewer total planted acres in 2013.
Post-Drought Livestock, Range And Pasture Insight. No single group of producers has been more impacted by the 2012 drought than those who raise livestock. Download our FREE report, 5 Post-Drought Strategies For A Better 2013.