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Big in Ag: Gloomy 2014 income outlooks || Winter hits
Most all of the 2013 crop is out of the field, and it's a good thing, because winter weather is sinking temperatures while expectations for 2014 farm incomes sink, too. See what else is big in ag this week.
Though temperatures have dropped sharply in the last few days from the Dakotas to the eastern Corn Belt, snow's protecting the young winter wheat crop in the Plains, while any corn and soybeans left in the field may now be there for a while in the Midwest.
The winter blast has the 'winter blues' settling into the grain markets. One analyst says it will be "a most unusual winter indeed for grain markets as we find out just how worthless corn can be, and how valuable the golden soybean can become with China buying it aggressively throughout the first part of the season."
There's good news for the grain bears, though. Expectations are running high for ag exports in the coming year, according to a federal report released this week. Livestock exports will be especially strong, surging to new records, USDA-ERS officials say.
As lawmakers and industry leaders continue to debate the future of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), new data out this week show just how much the ethanol business means to rural America. Though it's less than other energy sectors, the business has a more sustainable future than things like natural gas.
So, just how much could the RFS be cut to still maintain current corn and soybean demand? One longtime farm and energy economist said this week that EPA's current plan would be a mistake, but lesser cuts could work.
This week's featured a lot of looking ahead to the coming year. And a lot of those outlooks for farm income potential aren't pretty. Rising interest rates, nonperforming loan volume and land prices are all seen chipping in to a softening ag sector in 2014, one report shows.
One way to avoid some of the financial pain expected in 2014 is keeping a healthy amount of working capital. "Farmers should be examining their working capital and overall financial position now to prepare for the possible financial belt-tightening that could occur in the next few years," one specialist said this week.
Farmers reported this week they're getting some bad vibes from their bankers about the next year's farm income projections. That's got some saying it may require some drastic circumstances for grain prices to rebound. But, a crop failure? It's a hot topic this week.
When will cash land rental rates hit their tipping point and follow a plateauing and dipping land market lower? How long farmers are willing to keep paying high land rents will likely determine when that market starts to mimic slipping land values in general, according to one expert this week.
This week, delegates of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation gathered to nail down its policy for the coming year. The meeting was highlighted by a lot of talk about the Iowa Water Quality Initiative and nutrient management planning.
How's your Christmas shopping going? If you need some ideas for gifts for the farmer on your list -- or you want to drop some gift hints for yourself -- check out our Christmas gift guide!
Farmers are expressing anxiety about next year's income potential as a winter blast hits the Midwest.