Kent Wolfe, director for the center of agribusiness and economic development for the University of Georgia, spoke on livestock, which included a recap and forecast on the beef industry.
“Some of the trends in the livestock/animal protein sector are that we’ll have better markets than we saw in the past. Cattle prices are going to be up a little bit; milk prices are going to be up some. Oil production is likely not going to be as high as it was last year, but it’s still going to be high,” Wolfe said. “If you combine the prices with the fall in corn and feed inputs, the farms should be able to make some profits this year.
“Given the high prices of livestock right now, it’s one of those things where comparability in profit holds.”
For example, according to UGA’s College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences’ annual Farm Gate Value Report for 2013, which listed numbers from 2012, there were 9,600 heads of cattle valued at $4.4 million in Bartow County.
“Keep an eye on world demand, what China is doing, the whole world kind of goes that way,” Wolfe said. “If you look at the dairy exports right now, we’re exporting a lot of products to China, they’ve drove the [worldwide] prices up, so look for that to continue.”
Don Shurley, cotton economist for UGA, spoke on how world trends can affect local crop pricing.
“As far as corn and soybeans are concerned, we have been through three or four years or longer where farmers have enjoyed some pretty big prices from corn and soybeans. Six dollars on corn in some years, $12, $13 on soybeans. By any measure, that’s pretty high prices, historically, so we’ve come through a period where row crop farmers, in particularly corn and soybeans, the prices have been good,” Shurley said. “Productions for both of those crops was up both in the U.S. and worldwide last year, and the conditions that caused those high prices that we had over the past three years or more are starting to loosen up a little bit.
“So, we’re not going to see as high of prices for 2014 for corn and soybeans as we were experiencing in the past three or four years. Of those two crops, soybeans still probably still has the most upside potential of the two, as far as still having the ability to hang with where we have been over the last three to four years in terms of prices.”
He continued, “Soybeans has the opportunity to still continue fairly high, simply because the world demand for soybeans has increased so much. We export to China now and that has really been a factor in the market, so if the export of soybeans to China remains very well, then we expect the price of beans to be between $10 and $11 a bushel, which isn’t as high as where they have been in previous years, but it’s still very good.
“The other row crop that would be grown in this area is cotton, and the cotton situation really for the past two or three years has been driven by China ... China, over the past two or three years, has built up a massive stock, and by stocks I mean crops from previous years’ production that are still on hand. China holds a lot of cotton and where cotton prices will move in 2014 will very much depend on what China does with those stocks, and to understand that, it’s important to know China is the No. 1 producer of cotton in the world and they’re also the No. 1 user of cotton in the world.
“They don’t export a lot of cotton, but they import a lot [and] the U.S. is one of their major sources where they get their cotton imported. Because they have all these stocks, that could potentially impact the U.S.’s ability to export cotton to them — they may not need as much cotton this year as they did in the past, and if China can find a way to move those stocks into the market place, then that’s going to tend to weaken the prices some because it weakens the demand for cotton from other sources.”
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