Discover recent news and developments from the U.S. agricultural market. Top stories include shutting down of dairy farms, wheat export figures in July with estimates for the year, decreased cattle numbers, international trade reform proposals, and efforts to keep American farmland in the hands of the nationals.
Dairy farms in the U.S. are shutting down
Over the last 18 years, the total number of licensed dairy farms based in the United States declined from over 70,000 to just over 34,000 – a decrease of over 50%. Dairy farms have been continuously shutting down during the past two decades, with more than 94,000 business closures between 1992 and 2018. In 2019, 3,200 dairy farms were forced to close down. The milk consumption in America is declining and resulting in a domestic surplus. Being unable to turn a profit, farms are forced to terminate their activities.
Cattle numbers down by 1%
The newest report on the U.S. cattle inventory shows that the total number of cattle and calves decreased from 102.2 million head in July 2020 to just above 101 million in July this year. Total milk cows are up from 9.35 million head last year to 9.5 million head in 2021. The overall beef cow numbers totaled 31.4 million head and show a continuous decrease over the last 4 years. In the second half of 2021, 9.30 million calves are projected to be born.
The U.S. to protect its land from foreign takeovers
Senate lawmakers are preparing legislation changes regarding the purchase of American land by foreign nationals. In 2019, foreign investors held an interest in over 35 million acres of U.S. farmland, representing a growth of 2.3 million acres per year in the past decade. The farms are owned by other nationals, including those from Canada and Europe, but it is the rapidly increasing Chinese presence on the agricultural market in the U.S. that sparked the initiative. By the end of 2019, Chinese investors controlled $1.9 billion worth of agricultural land in the United States. China has a major influence on American agriculture and lawmakers are taking up efforts to tame the development of the potential Chinese-controlled agricultural monopoly.
Agriculture groups advocate for international trade reforms
With the upcoming conference of the World Trade Organization, major American farm associations are uniting to lay out their priorities for the much-needed trade reforms. The voices come from such groups as National Milk Producers Federation, U.S. Soybean Export Council, USA Rice Federation, and many more. The associations underline that the changes could improve global sustainability, aid rural communities, and secure better-paying jobs for American workers. While the experts predict that a common agreement on substantial changes may be hard to reach between involved countries, the negotiations may at least result in improved transparency of international trade.
Wheat: strong wheat exports in July and low total estimates
The U.S. noted favorable sales numbers regarding wheat exports in the second week of July. A total of 473,200 metric tonnes of wheat was ordered, reflecting an 11% increase from the week before and a 44% growth compared to the prior four-week average. Main buyers included China with orders for 135,300 metric tonnes, the Philippines acquiring 122,800 tonnes, and Mexico purchasing 118,400 tonnes of wheat. Despite strong sales that week, USDA expects declined overall exports estimated at 875 million bushels for the marketing year 2021/2022 meaning the lowest numbers in 6 years. The average farm price is projected at $6.60 per bushel, up by $0.1 from the previous estimates.