What's Ahead for Agriculture?

Here’s a snapshot of the issues and trends that could impact U.S. agriculture during 2014.

Policy Issues
Farm Bill: 
According to the American Farm Bureau, after a two-year delay, a new farm bill is expected to be complete in early 2014. This will provide some much-needed clarity for the U.S. agricultural industry, particularly concerning crop insurance and subsidies.

Water Regulations: 
Another legislative issue on tap for next year includes possible new regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pertaining to water usage and management on farms and ranches.

According to American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman, the EPA is attempting to expand the reach of the Clean Water Act, which could have serious and detrimental impacts on U.S. agriculture.

“If the EPA proposal were put in place, you could not discharge into any covered water unless you had a federal permit,” said Stallman in The Country Today. “In essence you as farmers and ranchers would have to have a permit relative to water and runoff for anything you wanted to do on your land.”

Land Costs
The value of farmland has risen in recent years throughout most of the Midwest. In Ohio, cropland value rose 12 percent in 2013, with bare cropland averaging $5,600 an acre, according to Barry Ward with the Ohio State University Extension in Farm and Dairy. Ward stated in Farm and Dairy that prices will be flat or fall in 2014. The forecast is expected to be the same for farmland nationwide.

“We’re at a point where land values are going to quit rising so rapidly,” said Terry Kastens, an agricultural economist in a Bloomberg article. “Prices will probably flatten out and may even fall back 10 percent or so, but we’re not going to see a crash.”

Low Prices
The Bucyrus Telegraph Forum recently reported that soybean and corn prices are expected to remain low in 2014, which means farmers might have to stretch profits from 2013 into the new year.

“It’s clear that commodities markets are not going to have the kind of strength in 2014 that they’ve had the past few years,” said Joe Cornely with the Ohio Farm Bureau. “In particular, there’s a retrenchment in corn prices.”

What 2014 agricultural issues and trends are on your mind? Please share your thoughts.

Photo obtained from www.americanfarminvestors.com.

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