The 91st annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation kicked off Sunday with a series of conferences. Topics focused on the crop and livestock outlook for the year ahead and major issues facing Farm Bureau members.
Optimism tempered with caution are the key words for the livestock outlook for 2010, reported John Anderson, Mississippi State University Extension livestock economist.
"The livestock market in 2009 was pretty tough, but there are good reasons to be optimistic as we move through 2010," said Anderson. Weak 2009 profit margins for producers of beef, pork and poultry led to reductions in supply as 2010 began, which means a more favorable supply situation. However, questions still remain on the demand side of the equation.
Anderson said demand recovery already has started, but market participants must be convinced that the recovery is real. In addition to improving prices, livestock producers should see better profit margins in 2010.
"Feed grain prices remain historically high but have stabilized in recent months. Increasing grain and oilseed stocks have reduced some of the pressure on grain prices that has been the dominant feature of those markets since late 2006," Anderson said.
MORE CORN ACRES
"We'll probably see corn acreage expand around the 90 million-acre level, up a little over 3 million acres from this past year," noted former American Farm Bureau Federation economic analyst Terry Francl. "Soybeans will probably hold. The big decline will be in the wheat area, down around 3 to 4 million acres, but we may pick up a million acres in cotton.
"The other thing is, we've got about 2 million acres coming out of the Conservation Reserve Program. So we may pick up another 200,000 acres to 300,000 acres in corn and soybeans, maybe a little in the wheat, but that's about it," Francl continued.
Here's how Francl sees the 2010 market prospects shaping up:
Corn -- Prices optimistically may trade in the $3.75 per bushel to $4.25 per bushel range into spring, when uncertainty over crop/acreage bidding and planting prospects may boost corn into the $4.50 per bushel to $4.75 per bushel zone. Assuming a normal fall crop, Francl sees prices backing off potentially to a $3.75 per bushel bottom.
Soybeans -- Francl anticipates near-term prices around $9.50 per bushel to $10.50 per bushel, with the spring corn-soybean "bidding war" adding a possible 25 cents to 50 cents. But a bountiful South American crop conceivably could knock prices to $8 to $8.50 per bushel levels by fall.
Wheat -- Wheat likely will trade in the $5 per bushel to $6 per bushel range, with pressures toward a possible $4.50 per bushel by harvest.
Cotton -- Prices should remain fairly steady around the 70 cent-per-pound mark, relaxing to a potential high-side of 68 cents to 69 cents into summer. However, strong U.S. and world crops could chase prices back into the mid-50 cent per pound range.
PRO-ACTIVE STRATEGY ON ANIMAL CARE
Fresh from an Election Day victory, the Ohio Farm Bureau shared with Farm Bureau members its strategy to take ownership of the farm animal care issue and knock down an attempt from an out-of-state activist group to impose its agenda on the state's livestock and poultry growers.
Brent Porteus, OFB president, explained how the state's farmers and ranchers didn't miss a beat last February when Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the Unites States (HSUS) let them in on its plans to compel the state's producers to change animal husbandry practices by one of two ways, ballot initiative or legislation.
OFB and a broad coalition of state agriculture groups beat HSUS to the punch, supporting legislation for a ballot measure that would create a 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board.
Passed by the General Assembly and then by the voters on Nov. 3, Issue 2, as the ballot initiative came to be known, created a board tasked with overseeing standards for how farm animals are treated. It will include Ohioans knowledgeable in livestock and poultry care, including family farmers, veterinarians, a food safety expert, a representative of a local humane society, representatives from statewide farm organizations, the dean of an Ohio agriculture college and members representing Ohio consumers.
Jack Fisher, OFB executive vice president, challenged the audience: "Do something," he said. "You heard about our way in Ohio. Figure out what works in your state, what works for your farmers and ranchers