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BusINess » Business » Agriculture outlook less bountiful

Agriculture outlook less bountiful

Local farmers empty their loads after making passes in a Lowell field. Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, presented Purdue's 2010 Ag Outlook Thursday at the Lake County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service. (Photograph by The Times.)

Local farmers empty their loads after making passes in a Lowell field. Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, presented Purdue's 2010 Ag Outlook Thursday at the Lake County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.
(Photograph by The Times.)

While the price of corn and soybeans plays large in Northwest Indiana farm economies, the bottom line for those in agriculture depends on that and more.

Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, presented Purdue’s 2010 Ag Outlook on Thursday at the Lake County offices of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service.

Hurt said members of Congress are unlikely to spend their remaining 11 days in Washington on such issues as the expiration of the blender’s tax credit and tax cuts, as well as changes in inheritance taxes, which are matters of economic importance to those in farming.

There is a possibility that the blender’s tax credit—45 cents a gallon given for including ethanol in the gasoline mix—could drag corn prices down if it is not passed. It is equally possible that oil companies deprived of the credit will increase gas prices, Hurt said.

For your information

For a comprehensive look at the Purdue Agricultural Economics Report, visit agriculture.purdue.edu.

Either way, farmers would be negatively affected.

With harvest underway, only a handful of Lake and Porter County agricultural landowners and farmers attended Thursday’s session.

Still, those there took notes as Hurt said since its last report on Friday, U.S. Department of Agriculture predictions of a record crop with record prices may need adjusting.

“The corn looks good, but will it yield? Some corn is wet. Hydrogen is leaching,” he said.

With Department of Agriculture officials forecasting $4.40 a bushel average across the corn belt, Hurt suggested Indiana farmers could get as much as $4.65 a bushel with cash corn reaching $6 next year if China steps up to buy more from the United States.

“We think that China is getting close to using all the corn they produce. . . . For the first time in 15 years, China is buying corn,” Hurt said.

An increase in meat, dairy and eggs in Chinese diets will continue to increase its need for corn, he said.

As a “massive buyer of soybeans,” China’s customer needs could push soybeans up to $11 a bushel next year, Hurt said.

In just the past, two months, Hurt said world wheat production is down by 5.6 percent, while Canada’s yield was reduced by 15 percent. The United States is up 2.2 percent.

“We are the largest supplier to the world. Our cupboards are open,” Hurt said.

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