On May 15, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing “at the seat of Government of the United States a Department of Agriculture.” Two and one-half years later, in what was to be his last annual message to the Congress, Lincoln said: "The Agricultural Department, under the supervision of its present energetic and faithful head, is rapidly commending itself to the great and vital interest it was created to advance. It is precisely the people’s Department, in which they feel more directly concerned that in any other. I commend it to the continued attention and fostering care of Congress.
by Jonathan Coppess, Univesity of Illinois
There are more than 40 million Americans who have lost their jobs and more than 100,000 Americans have died in just a few months. The brutal killing of George Floyd adds another tragedy to a list already too extensive. With so much pain ripping through America today, the policy decisions by the Trump Administration in the food and agriculture sector are concerning. Too little has been done to assist those who need food in a pandemic and too much on trying to curtail access to food aid. These are decisions likely to produce long-lasting, deep reverberations in the body politic with consequences difficult to foresee. Farmers are struggling and payments can provide some help but the decision to prioritize payments over food is not likely to be well-received by the many waiting in long lines at food banks, struggling just to feed their families. Worse still the obvious greed of the few pushing to capture ever larger payments, especially when considered with the historical examples reviewed herein. This difficult legacy haunts every discussion about farm policy, never more so than now.
Concerns are not the equivalent of criticism for its own sake but rather a call for policies and decisions that better reflect needs and values. The failure to make real, incremental progress too often builds to a breaking point, causing vast harm and greater costs. Few words in American history are more haunting on this point than those of President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address. Among them his warning to a war-weary citizenry that the fighting could continue “until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword” (Lincoln, April 10, 1865). For those willing to learn, the brief record highlighted here provides a starting point from which to draw important lessons.
The highly anticipated release of USDA’s crop production and ending stocks reports last Friday created a somewhat negative tone in corn and soybean markets. Despite the slightly bearish tilt, prices for both commodities closed higher on Friday. The pending phase one trade agreement and South American production prospects look to set the tone for prices over the near term. - Todd Hubbs, ILLINOIS Extension
by Todd Hubbs, University of Illinois
link to original farmdocDaily article
Corn production for the U.S. in 2019 came in at 13.69 billion bushels, up 31 million bushels from the previous forecast on higher national average yields. Average corn yield of 168 bushels per acre is one bushel higher than the previous forecast. The harvested acreage estimate of 81.5 million acres is down from the November forecast of 81.8 million acres. Current production estimates for corn show eight percent of the crop still in the field and open the estimate to possible revision in the future.
December 1 corn stocks came in at 11.39 billion bushels. The estimate is 122 million bushels below trade expectations and indicates a total disappearance of 4.53 billion bushels in the first quarter of the marketing year. The USDA’s revision of the September 1 corn stocks higher by 107 million bushels along with greater production indicates a massive feed and residual use component in the first quarter.
At 5.525 billion bushels, the WASDE forecast for corn feed use and residual moved up by 250 million bushels from the previous forecast for the 2019–20 marketing year. Despite the significant boost in consumption from feed and residual, projected ending stocks fell only 18 million bushels from the previous forecast. Consumption projection for categories other than feed and residual fell 95 million bushels. While the corn use for ethanol forecast stayed steady at 5.375 billion bushels, the forecast for other industrial purposes decreased by 20 million bushels to 1.395 billion bushels. The forecast for corn exports dropped 75 million bushels to 1.775 billion bushels due to the continuation of weak export numbers through the first four months of the marketing year. The pending trade deal with China holds the promise for change in some of the consumption totals.
The phase one trade deal due to be signed sometime this week still lacks specificity. While the administration continues to tout agricultural export increases near $16 billion over 2017 totals of $24 billion, very little confirmation from the Chinese side has come forth thus far. The Chinese indicated that they would not exceed their global quota on corn imports for any individual country in 2020. The quota for corn stands at 7.2 million metric tons (near 283 million bushels). Through November of 2019, Census data indicates China imported 12.3 million bushels of corn from the U.S. during the calendar year. There remains plenty of room for increased Chinese imports of U.S. corn and corn-related products in 2020 despite the quota. Details surrounding the trade deal matter and look to help shape price prospects for corn over the next few months.
Foreign production projections for corn in the 2019–20 marketing year moved up slightly due to an increase in the European Union and Russian production. Brazil’s corn production forecast stayed at 3.98 billion bushels. Concerns about production losses for first crop corn in southern Brazil due to dry conditions continue to evolve. Strong domestic corn prices in Brazil point to producers planting the safrinha crop even if planting is later than ideal in many areas. Argentinian production forecasts stayed at 1.97 billion bushels. The forecast for Argentina and Brazil corn exports sit at 2.73 billion bushels, 335 million bushels lower than last marketing year. Given the current forecast for South American exports, the evolution of crop conditions in the region, particularly on the Brazilian safrinha crop, hold important implications for corn exports during the coming year.
Soybean production for the U.S. in 2019 totaled 3.558 billion bushels, up 8 million bushels from the previous forecast on higher national average yields. The national average soybean yield of 47.4 bushels per acre is 0.5 bushels higher than the previous forecast. The harvested acreage estimate of 75 million acres is down from the prior forecast of 75.6 million acres. Current production estimates for soybeans indicate two percent of the crop remains in the field. December 1 soybean stocks came in at 3.252 billion bushels, 66 million bushels above trade expectations.
The WASDE report maintained consumption and ending stock projections at the same levels seen in the last forecast. The crush forecast stayed at 2.105 billion bushels, reflecting the pace of soybean crush in the first quarter of the marketing year. Soybean export forecast levels of 1.775 billion bushels remained steady and mirrored the current pace of exports without the possible trade deal impacts. Unlike corn, soybeans do not face a quota scenario in China. A trade deal with specificity on soybean exports could provide support for prices.
A Brazilian crop at 4.519 billion bushels portends tough competition in world markets for U.S. exports. The Argentinian soybean production forecast stayed steady at 1.95 billion bushels. Forecasts for Brazil and Argentina soybean exports are set at 3.09 billion bushels over the marketing year, up 15 million bushels from last marketing year’s estimate. Increased U.S. soybean exports to China under the trade deal may see strong substitution buying of South American soybeans by other major buyers that may limit U.S. exports upside potential despite a trade agreement.
Additional discussion and graphs associated with this article available here.
The agricultural sector is caught up in a storm of change. Political and economic forces have been squeezing trade on the global front and U.S. farmers have been leaning into the winds. We take up a few of these topics in this edition of the WILLAg Newsletter.
Trade with China
Profile of USTR Lighthizer
USDA Ag Outlook Forum
Corn Acreage in 2019
Expected Corn vs Soybean Returns
2018 Ethanol Plant Losses
We’ll also explore these topics, marketing prospects, the price of farmland, and the weather during our March 5 All Day Ag Outlook. Hopefully, you can join us at the Beef House in Covington, Indiana. The cost is just $30 and includes Beef House coffee and rolls in the morning and Beef House lunch at the noon hour.
Tickets are available online or by calling 800–898–1065.
Hope to See You There!
Todd E. Gleason, Farm Broadcaster
University of Illinois Extension | WILLAg.org
Trade with China Friday the Chinese trade delegation gathered in the Oval Office with President Trump. A letter from President Xi was read out loud. It urged a continued push toward a final trade deal. The only firm detail to come out of the week’s worth of talks in Washington was a commitment to purchase 10mmt of soybeans. USDA issued an official release on the announcement. It did not include a timeline for the purchases. CNBC reported the Chinese had offered to guarantee purchases of $1.2 trillion dollars of U.S. goods. Again, there was no timeline issued and this point has not been confirmed by any other outlet, the White House, or the Chinese.
During the week the trade discussions in Washington, D.C. pointed to five MOU’s. These Memorandums of Understanding included one on agriculture and were how U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had decided to break down the issues in order to tackle them; agriculture, non-tariff barriers, services, technology transfer & intellectual property.
President Trump during the Oval Office meeting Friday pushed aside the MOU’s. He interrupted Trade Representative Lighthizer in front of the Chinese. Lighthizer was trying to explain how the MOUs would build the foundation of a trade deal. Mr. Trump stopped him and said, “I disagree. I think that a memorandum of understanding is not a contract to the extent that we want.” Lighthizer agreed that the term MOU would not be used again.
The important point in this exchange is likely not the MOU discussion. The President interrupted and corrected his lead trade negotiator in front of the Chinese delegation. Clearly, if a trade deal is to be struck it can only be done one-on-one between Presidents Trump and Xi. They may meet next month at Mar-A-Lago.
Mr. Trump has long focused on closing the trade gap with China. The other issues have not been of very much importance to him although he does mention China stealing and intellectual property rights. A trade deal with China is one of the President’s campaign promises. The dazzling $1.2 trillion number CNBC reported might be very enticing to a man who has had a habit of fulfilling his campaign promises.
If it is completed in this fashion, without enforcement mechanisms or real intellectual property rights protections, then as President Trump has said recently Democrats won’t go along. Republicans are likely to stay mum as the deal sets idle in Congress and simply becomes a presidential election year rallying cry. Presidents negotiate trade deals. Congress approves them.
Profile of USTR Lighthizer
NPR profiled Trade Representative Lighthizer this week. Please take six minutes to listen. It’ll be worth your while to know a whole lot more about the man leading the trade negotiations with China.
USDA Ag Outlook Forum This week USDA put on its 95th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum. It provides some initial numbers the trade uses to project the 2019 growing season into the markets until official USDA reports are issued. The first supply and demand report for the 2019/20 growing season will be issued in May. The March 29 Prospective Plantings report will provide survey results of what farmers think their acreage mix will look like this year. Here you will find some of the powerpoint slides U.S.D.A. Chief Economist Robert Johansson presented in the opening session and the full supply and demand tables presented Friday morning.
You may watch the full opening session of the 2019 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum. It took place in Washington, D.C. February 21 and 22.
The number of acres of corn planted this spring will be a key factor in determining where the price of corn goes. University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Todd Hubbs took up the issue in this week’s farmdocDaily article.
He starts with a historical graph. It shows the principal crop acres in the United States and how those have changed since 1997. Both corn and soybean acreage have increased. Combined they’re up about 10 percent over the past two decades.
Illinois’ Todd Hubbs uses that history to help put the number or corn and soybeans acres into perspective, “When we look at the harvest month corn to soybean futures price ratio this year it has been about 2.37. There is a definite signal in this graph from about 2006 to 2018 that if you are above 2.4 in that ratio, there will be less corn acreage. If you are below 2.3 there will be more corn acreage. We are, today, sitting right in between those. We’ve seen problems with field work in large parts of the corn belt. We’ve seen fertilizer and other input costs go up on corn. So, the idea that we are going to see a massive increase in corn acreage could happen, but under the current price structure we might not see the kind of corn acreage we think we are going to see.”
Hubbs says he used the 2019–20 futures prices to forward calculate a seasons average cash price for new crop corn. His calculation points to $3.81 per bushel. He then figured a stocks to use ratio that would fit that number, “I think an 11% stocks to use ratio in 2019–2020 would give us $3.81. If consumption is constant at 14.8 billion bushels from this marketing year to the next, that would put corn acreage around 91.7 million at a national trend line yield of 174.6 bushels to the acre.”
Finally, Hubbs says there isn’t a lot of weather premium priced into new crop corn futures. He also says there isn’t much of premium built in for a possible trade deal with China. Hubbs thinks that may be just as bullish for corn as it is for soybeans. Right now he thinks the 2.37 soybean/corn ratio feels high if the expectation is for a substantial increase in corn acreage.
Two factors have changed between the planning periods in 2018 and 2019. First, expected soybeans prices are lower in 2019 as compared to 2018. A reasonable way of forming expectations of cash prices at harvest is to use current bid prices for fall delivery of grain. In 2018, fall delivery prices for soybeans in the month of February averaged about $9.80 in East-Central Illinois. In 2019, fall delivery prices are roughly $.75 per bushel less at $9.05 (see Table 1). At the same time, fall delivery prices for corn are roughly the same at $3.70 per bushel. An $.75 decline in soybean price reduces expected soybean returns by $45 per acre given a soybean yield of 60 bushels per acre ($45 = .75 lower price x 60 bushels yield).
Second, costs have increased, with a primary contributor being increases in nitrogen fertilizer prices. Throughout much of 2018, anhydrous ammonia prices were in the low $500 per ton range (see Table 2). So far in 2019, anhydrous ammonia prices have averaged $607 per ton in January and $613 in February (see Table 2). Fall applications of nitrogen were limited in 2018 due to wet soil conditions, leading many farmers to have to price nitrogen in 2019. These farmers likely will pay around $100 per ton more for anhydrous ammonia in 2019 as compared to 2018. If 220 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are applied per acre, leading to an application of 180 pounds of elemental N (180 = 220 pounds x .82 N analysis of anhydrous ammonia), nitrogen fertilizer costs would increase in 2019 over 2018 levels by $11 per acre ($100 price increase per ton x 220 pounds of anhydrous ammonia per acre / 2000 pounds per ton).
The decrease in soybean price increases the relative profitability of corn. The increase in nitrogen fertilizer price decreases the relative profitability of corn, partially offsetting the impacts if the soybean price increase.
2019 Corn and Soybean Budgets
Table 3 shows 2019 corn and soybean budgets for high-productivity farmland in central Illinois (see farmdoc for 2019 Crop Budgets). These budgets incorporate price and cost changes between 2018 and 2019. Two notes about these budgets:
Yields are 213 bushels per acre for corn-after-corn and 63 bushels per acre for soybeans-after-corn. These are trend yields. In recent years, yields in Illinois have been above trend. Corn yields averaged 20 bushels above trend from 2014 to 2018 (farmdoc daily, January 3, 2018) while soybean yields have averaged 6.5 bushels above trend (farmdoc daily, December 11, 2018).
Prices used in budgets are $3.60 per bushel for corn and $8.50 per bushel for soybeans. The corn price is near fall delivery bids while the budgeted soybean price is about $.55 per bushel below the fall delivery bid. The lower budgeted soybean price reflects a general pessimism about soybean prices resulting from expected large supplies relative to demand (see farmdoc daily, January 28, 2019). This lower soybean price will decrease soybean profitability relative to corn, suggesting more of a shift to corn than a higher soybean price.
Operator and land returns are $188 per acre for corn and $180 per acre for soybeans, suggesting that corn will be more profitable than soybeans. However, this difference in profitability does not suggest a large shift in acres to corn. Most farms in central Illinois have a corn-soybean rotation, necessitating a move to corn-after-corn to grow more corn. Corn-after-corn returns are projected at $137 per acre, which are less than the $180 per acre soybean-after-corn return. These lower corn-after-corn returns suggest maintaining a corn-soybean rotation.
Other Budget Values Operator and land returns shown in Table 3 were recalculated for two different scenarios. First, a $9.00 soybean price was used to calculate soybean returns. The $9.00 price is close to fall bids. Given that corn prices do not change, operator and land returns for corn remain the same as those shown in Table 3:
corn-after-soybeans: $188 per acre, and
corn-after-corn: $137 per acre,
while soybean returns increase to:
soybeans-after-corn: $211 per acre, and
soybeans-after-two-years-corn: $229 per acre.
As would be expected, this price scenario increases soybean profitability relative to corn. Current forward bids do not suggest a shift to corn from a profitability standpoint.
The second scenario maintains the corn and soybean prices at $3.60 and $8.50, respectively, but increases corn yields by 20 bushels per acre and soybean yields by 6 bushels per acre. This scenario reflects a situation where budgets are more optimistic than trend yields due to high yields in recent years. In this case, operator and land returns are:
corn-after-soybeans (233 bushels per acre): $260 per acre
corn-after-corn (223 bushels per acre): $209 per acre
soybeans-after-corn (69 bushels per acre): $231 per acre
soybeans-after-two-years-corn (71 bushels per acre):$248 per acre
Higher yields increase returns and also increase the relative profitability of corn. However, corn-after-scorn is less profitable than soybeans-after-corn. These projections do not suggest that growing more corn would be more profitable than maintaining soybean acres given that both crops have above trend yields at 2013–2018 levels.
Summary and Conclusions
Current fall delivery prices do not suggest that switching to more corn away from soybeans will result in higher profitability on high-productivity farmland in central Illinois. Due to high relatively corn yields, central Illinois is one of the most profitable areas to grow corn relative to soybeans, If central Illinois budgets do not suggest a switch to corn, budgets in less productive areas likely will not suggest a shift from soybeans to corn.
University of Illinois Agricultural Economist and noted ethanol industry specialist Scott Irwin wrote an article detailing the financial losses the industry experienced last year. Use the link above to read the full article. Here’s the paragraph Irwin penned on the potential implications for ethanol going forward.
“The ethanol industry in 2018 experienced its first losing year since 2012, thereby ending a run of five consecutive years of positive returns. The estimated loss for a representative Iowa ethanol plant in 2018 was -$2.2 million. While large, the 2018 loss was still far less than the -$6.7 million loss in 2012. The evidence points to overproduction as the driving force behind the low prices and financial losses experienced by ethanol producers during 2018. The fortunes of the U.S. ethanol industry are unlikely to improve until production and use are better balanced. This will require shuttering some production capacity, additional demand, or some combination of the two. The most optimistic scenario is additional demand for U.S. ethanol exports as part of a trade deal with China.” - Scott Irwin, University of Illinois
Q How confident are you that it will be finished by March 1? Or are you considering extending that deadline?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they are very complex talks. They’re going very well. We’re asking for everything that anybody has ever even suggested. These are not just, you know, “let’s sell corn or let’s do this.” It’s going to be selling corn but a lot of it – a lot more than anyone thought possible. And I think the talks are going very well – with China, you’re referring to?
THE PRESIDENT: And the talks are going very well.
Our group just came back and now they’re coming here. I can’t tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date. A lot of things can happen.
The real question will be: Will we raise the tariffs? Because they automatically kick in to 25 percent as of – on $200 billion worth of goods that they send. So I know that China would like not for that to happen. So I think they’re trying to move fast so that doesn’t happen. But it’s – we’ll see what happens.
I can only say that the talks with China on trade have gone very, very well. In the meantime, our economy is very strong. We’re doing well.
I don’t know if you noticed, but deficits seem to be coming down. And last month it was reported, and everybody was surprised, but I wasn’t surprised. We’re taking in a lot of money coming into our Treasury from tariffs and various things, including the steel dumping. And our steel companies are doing really well. Aluminum companies also. So we’re very happy about that.
I think that it’s – they’ll be coming very shortly. They’re going to have very detailed discussions on subjects that have never really been even discussed by people that sat in this chair and they should have been. Very important subjects. And I think we’re doing very well. Okay?
As the trade conflict with China continues, prices for many agricultural commodities remain relatively low. Illinois corn and soybean prices dipped to new lows in September, coinciding with the latest rounds of tariffs.
The difference between selling an entire crop at spring forward bid prices compared to the September average cash prices makes a substantial difference in income on an average central Illinois grain farm.
University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey reviews how this plays out on a 1700 acre corn and soybean farm in Illinois this year, and what the prospects look like for next year.
Last Tuesday President Donald Trump made a campaign trip to Council Bluffs, Iowa. There he told a very excited crowd his administration would be backing corn farmers and ethanol.
The President leaned into the mic and gave corn farmers a little insider news they’ve been clamoring to hear since U.S. EPA pronounced gasoline blended with 15 percent ethanol would be ok to use in all cars made since 2001, “We are a little bit early. I shouldn’t say it now, but we are going with E15 year-round.”
Mr. Trump is a little early. Today E15 can be used about 9 months out of the year in much of the nation. During those other three months, the summer months, it has been prohibited. U.S. EPA will need to write some rules about how to make the year-round use happen. Those will need to be approved, and clearly the oil industry will mount court challenges.
If all goes well more corn will be used to make ethanol for E15, but it won’t make a difference in the balance sheets for corn says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin, “Not for this year and I am confident not for next year.”
So the E15 announcement, while a long run win for corn ethanol, rings a little hollow. The Administration’s other big farm country biofuels problem is EPA’s use of the Small Refinery Exemptions or SRE. The good news here, says Illinois’ Irwin, is that ethanol usage has been holding strong despite EPA letting some refineries out of the mandate to produce gasoline blended with a home grown fuel like ethanol made from corn.
However, there is a problem with oil pressed from soybeans to make biodiesel says Irwin, “And the total amount of biodiesel, because of the Small Refinery Exemptions, has probably gone down at least 10 percent. So, there has been real demand destruction from the Small Refinery Exemptions, but it is in biodiesel and not ethanol.”
US EPA has through November to announce its final decisions related to the volume of biofuels it will require in the nation’s gasoline supply in 2019. It may or may not include some guidance on how it expects to use the Small Refinery Exemptions going forward. So far, it has said it will make no comment on that point.
President Trump at his Council Bluffs, Iowa rally Tuesday is expected to announce a waiver to allow year-round use of gasoline blended with 15% ethanol (E15). Todd Gleason reports it may make little difference in how much corn is used to make ethanol.
China, the number one destination for all U.S. soybeans, has stopped buying because of the President’s trade policies. Normally those bushels would be exported via the PNW (the Pacific Northwest) grain export terminals. That gate has closed says NDSU’s Frayne Olson and now all those bushels are expected to try and move through the other export gate at the Port of New Orleans.
Olson says “The challenge we have in the soybean market is that the basis levels are trying to choke off the inflow of grain. Local basis is all about what’s the inflow rate versus the outflow rate. The problem is our out-flow rate is very slow. So, the local basis level is going to continue to fall until it chokes off that inflow and where that magic number depends upon where you are.”
Fall 2019 Soybean Basis
If you look at a fall 2018 map of soybean prices across the United State you can see how grain flow is backing up into the St. Louis export terminals. The PNW can handle about 25 train loads of soybeans a day. St. Louis can manage 5. Because of this, cash prices from the Dakotas all the way to Illinois River - it feeds the export market & St. Louis - are miserably low. Those farmers east of the Illinois River are impacted, too. If the map includes Canadian export terminals you can see that farmers in far western North Dakota are getting a $1.90 a bushel less for their soybeans than their counterparts near London, Ontario. Farmers in parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are getting about 60 cents less.
Sign up for the trade and tariff compensation package from the United State Department of Agriculture is open. Todd Gleason has more on how and when farmers and landlords should fill out the paperwork.
During a U.S. Senate hearing, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler answered questions about ethanol, biofuels, the RFS, and small refinery waivers. He appears to be holding the same line Scott Pruitt took during his time at the helm of the agency with some notable differences.
The Trump Administration’s has a $12 billion dollar plan to compensate farmers for damages done so far by the trade dispute with China and other nations. Here’s what’s known, so far, about how the plan will work.
The largest part of that money will be paid out to soybean producers, though direct payments will also be made for other commodities including corn, wheat, sorghum, cotton, dairy, and pork. USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson told reporters on the line the initial damage calculation has already been made, “We’ve calculated what the damage is to producers facing these illegal tariff actions. We are working out the specific details and will be working it out as a rule making action in a couple of weeks and that will have our estimated rates. As the Secretary mentioned, this will be playing out over time and we do look to allowing for the Administration to successfully negotiate a deal here with our trading partners. And so, the program will be flexible to allow that.”
Again, Johansson says the financial damage part has already been calculated, though he also says specific details have yet to be published and or worked out. Should the trade disputes be settled the program is meant to flexible.
This was not said, but it makes sense that a farmer who harvests and sells soybeans prior to the settlement would get a payment, one who sells after the settlement may not.
Assistant Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs, Brad Karmen says FSA, the Farm Service Agency, will be responsible for the sign up, “So we are going to allow producers, we are talking about a September sign-up, and it will probably go for many months. So, producers will have time to visit there FSA count y office. And in order to run this program we need producers to harvest their crop. So, producers that harvest their crop, like wheat for example which in on the list and many of those producers have harvested already. They may be able to get their payment earlier than somebody like corn or soybeans that doesn’t harvest until October. But we need producers to harvest so that we know their production in order to calculate a payment.”
Recapping then… the the bulk of the $12 billion dollars is intended to compensate soybean farmers for damages to their market. The initial calculation has, it appears, already been made but may be tweaked. Sign-up will be done at local FSA offices. Payments will begin once producers provide actual production figures to the FSA. And, the program may change or end prior to payments being made should the Administration settle trade disputes.
As of July 12th, U.S. farmers were expected to produce 4.3 billion bushels of soybeans this season.
This Thursday’s USDA’s monthly supply and demand estimates will include the impact of the Trump Administration’s tariffs. Gary Crawford talks with the chair of the World Agricultural Outlook Board Seth Meyer about the July WASDE. The report is scheduled for release at 11 a.m. central time Thursday, July 12, 2018.
The President has been tweeting about agriculture. He says the potential deal with China will result in “massive” export increases for farm commodities. Most have taken this to mean, at a minimum, that the flow of soybeans will be increased. University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs has been pondering the implications and the deal.
Todd Hubbs specializes is row crop commodity marketing at the University of Illinois. You may read his thoughts on marketing soybeans in today’s (this week’s) post to the farmdocDaily website.
With the recent passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Congress passed on 12/20; President signed on 12/22) there are significant changes to the deductible amount of state income, property tax and real estate tax used in calculating itemized deductions beginning in tax year 2018. Under the new law, beginning in 2018, there is a $10,000 maximum combined limit of state income, property and real estate tax that may be deducted when itemizing deductions on IRS Form 1040, Schedule A. For 2017, there is no limit on the amount of these expenses. Thus, there are two tax planning opportunities with the potential to allow taxpayers to maximize the amount of these deductions if they take action prior to December 31, 2017. These two planning opportunities are available only to those using Form 1040, Schedule A to itemize certain deductions on their individual income tax return.
The first planning opportunity involves the advance payment of property and real estate tax on the taxpayers' personal residence or other personal use property prior to December 31, 2017. This advances payment of these taxes that would normally be paid in 2018 into 2017 and then itemizing them on IRS Form 1040, Schedule A. Please check with your local county treasurer or collector to make certain that they will accept such an advance payment of real estate tax. To make a distinction between personal real estate tax and business real estate tax - this IRS Form 1040 Schedule A limit on the maximum amount of deduction does not apply to property or real estate tax paid in the operation of a business. Those taxes continue to be deducted on Schedule F or Schedule C and are not subject to the $10,000 limit for years after 2017.
The second planning opportunity involves paying any 2017 state income tax due by December 31, 2017 for personal income tax returns due in April 2018. For example, if a taxpayer is making quarterly estimated payments of State of Illinois income tax, the fourth quarter payment is due January 15, 2018. If that amount is paid by December 31, 2017 then that amount can be deducted on the 2017 tax return, since the liability is related to the 2017 return. This includes farmers making a 4th quarter state income tax payment - making that estimate payment prior to December 31 allows for a 2017 deduction and avoids the 2018 Schedule A limit. Care must be taken to not prepay any 2018 state income tax liabilities, as any prepayment of a 2018 state income tax is not allowed to be deducted on the 2017 return. That payment would be treated as being paid on January 1, 2018 and would then be subject to the $10,000 limit. Taxpayers should use the 2017 state estimate vouchers to make these payments.
This is a 'one-time' potential strategy to put in place prior to the $10,000 limit on state income, personal and real estate tax is put in place and don't forget that the standard deduction increases markedly beginning in 2018 which will make it more difficult to itemize deductions on Schedule A of IRS Form 1040.
Before utilizing either of these strategies taxpayers should consult their tax advisor. Not all taxpayers will benefit from advancing the payment of these taxes into 2017. This would especially apply to taxpayers subject to the alternative minimum tax as there may be no tax benefit on the 2017 return by making these payments in December.
Last night President Donald Trump made a speech about his administration’s tax reform plan. He addressed truckers in Pennsylvania. Mr. Trump told the truckers his tax reforms will create American jobs by lowering taxes in several ways.
So, to summarize, our plan goes from eight tax brackets down to four, expands the zero tax bracket greatly, expands the child tax credit, repeals the estate tax and special interest tax breaks, cuts the corporate tax rate from much more and equal to 35% tax and brings it all the way down to 20%, and cuts tax breaks for small businesses to the lowest level in more than eight years.
The President also says it will be possible for most Americans to do their taxes on a single sheet of paper.
The particulars of the reform would double the standard deduction so that $12,000 of income for individuals and $24,000 for married couples would be tax-free. It would consolidate the eight existing tax brackets for income to four brackets: zero, 12 percent, 25 percent, and 35 percent. The Child Tax Credit would expand to benefit more middle-income families and eliminate the marriage penalty, although how this will happen isn't outlined. Finally, the reform would create a new $500 tax credit for those caring for an adult dependent.
The President last night also mentioned something not in the official release. It’s unclear if this is related to the Bonus Depreciation tax break, but that’s rather how it sounds.
And that is part of our plan because, companies in order to compete, over the next five-year period in our framework, and within our framework, that you right off 100% of the cost of new equipment in the year you buy it. When have you heard that one? That’s going to be a big one. That’s going to be big.
Bonus Depreciation currently allows businesses of all sizes to depreciate 50 percent of the cost of new equipment acquired and put in service during 2017. It also allows the same deduction for some improvement to non-residential real-estate. It is scheduled to phase down to 40 percent in 2018 and 30 percent in 2019. This particular tax break is targeted to large businesses.
Farmers generally use the related Section 179 Deduction which also accounts for the purchase of used equipment and caps the dollar amount rather than using a percentage.
The President's proposal could seek to replace both by combining them into a single deduction which would sunset in five years.
How Harvey Will Impact Fuel Supply Infrastructure
Dave Chatterton, Powerline Group - Champaign, Illinois
Monday Todd Gleason spoke with Dave Chatterton at the Powerline Group about how Hurricane Harvey is impacting the nation’s fuel supply infrastructure.
Southern States Crop Tour Review
Jeremy Wilson, Crop IMS - Effingham, Illinois
The corn crop in the south is good. Very good in fact. Todd Gleason talks with Jeremy Wilson from Crop IMS.
Discussing Dicamba Damage with Robb Fraley
Robb Fraley, Monsanto Company - St. Louis, Missouri
Doug Maxwell, Crops Researcher - University of Illinois
Monsanto’s Robb Fraley dropped by the University of Illinois tent at the Farm Progress Show to talk about dicamba and soybeans. Todd Gleason has more…
Recruiting Higher Ed Ag Students to Illinois Universities
Recruiters from Illinois State, Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, and the University of Illinois are planning to work together to keep more agricultural students in state. Todd Gleason discussed the reasons why with them during this year’s Farm Progress Show.
House Ag Committee Members on the Farm Bill
Mike Conaway - U.S. House of Representatives - State of Texas
Rodney Davis - U.S. House of Representatives - State of Illinois
G.T. Thompson - U.S. House of Representatives - State of Pennsylvania
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture held a farm bill listening session at the 2017 Farm Progress Show. Todd Gleason spoke with them afterwards and asked about the compromises which might need to be made to accommodate additional crops and the food & feeding programs.
The New IBRL Building Good for Corn Growers
Vijay Singh, Director IBRL & Agricultural Engineer - University of Illinois
The University of Illinois has built a biofuels processing facility on campus to pilot test new energy concepts. Todd Gleason has more with the Director of the Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory.
Trump Admin USDA Under Secretary Nominee Ted McKinney
Ted McKinney, Director Indiana State Department of Agriculture
Todd Gleason has a conversation with Director Ted McKinney of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. McKinney has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the post of Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs.
Trade & Farm Bill Issues with @ILCorn
Ken Hartman, Newly Elected NCGA Board Member
Roger Sy, Treasurer - Illinois Corn Marketing Board
Illinois corn growers Ken Hartman from Waterloo and Roger Cy from Newman talk with Todd Gleason at the 2017 Farm Progress show about the next farm bill and trade issues.
What’s Next for @FieldView Software
Rick Myrup, Field View - Climate Corp
Big data tools like Climate Corp’s Field View are harnessing crop development and agronomic information from farmers and their equipment. Todd Gleason has more with Rick Myrup.
@NationalCorn Spurlock Discusses NAFA & Farm Bill
Wesley Sprulock, President National Corn Growers Association
NAFTA and the Farm Bill are the hot topics for NCGA. Todd Gleason has more with the Wesley Spurlock from Texas. He is the president of the National Corn Grower’s Association.
The White House has released a new budget proposal, and it’s not good news for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan, commonly known as food stamps or Link in Illinois. The plan calls for a $193 billion, or 25 percent, cut to the program that currently serves 42 million Americans. Craig Gundersen, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, has been studying SNAP and its effects on food insecurity for years.
“SNAP is a great program. It is the key component of the social safety net against food insecurity,” Gundersen says.
Given the success of SNAP, Gundersen emphasizes that efforts to cut the size of the program will lead to dramatic increases in food insecurity.
Food insecurity and SNAP were the topics of a recent podcast and Twitter chat with Gundersen.
According to Gundersen, food insecurity is a major contributor to negative health outcomes in the United States. These range from depression and malnutrition to behavioral problems for children in school. Given this, it is not surprising that food insecurity also leads to substantially higher health care costs. “Because SNAP leads to greater food security, the program also brings down health care costs,” he says.
Overall, Gundersen says he can’t think of a more successful government program than SNAP. The research indicates that the program is associated with higher nutrient intake, reductions in poverty, and reductions in infant mortality. But it does more than that.
“One of the key advantages to SNAP is that it gives dignity to recipients,” he says. “They can purchase what they think is best for their families. Restricting that is demeaning and stigmatizing to poor people.”
This week the Trump Administration released its FY18 budget. It includes harsh cuts to agricultural entitlement programs. Todd Gleason discusses the plan with University of Illinois Agricultural Policy Specialist Jonathan Coppess.
University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Scott Irwin discusses rumors driving the commodity markets Tuesday, February 28, 2017 related to biofuels and the Trump administration with U of I Extension Farm Broadcaster Todd Gleason.