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FAPRI Forecast: Corn Prices Drop, Net Farm Income Strong

March 11, 2013
money series

If average weather returns, look for a record 2013 corn crop—and for corn prices to drop $2 per bushel, says a University of Missouri economist.

Pat Westhoff said corn prices are projected at $5 per bushel, down from $7 for the crop harvested last fall. Those were among thousands of numbers in the annual MU FAPRI baseline sent to the U.S. Congress today.

The MU Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute analyzes the U.S. farm economy, said Westhoff, director.

The FAPRI corn price depends on expected planting of 96.9 million acres, second highest since the 1930s and just under the 2012 record.

FAPRI assumes average weather and a return to trend yields of 162 bu. per acre. That contrasts with 123 bushels in drought-stricken 2012. Last year, yields ran 23% below trend, the third year in a row below trend.

More corn cuts revenue, as record yields are offset by lower prices. Corn revenue drops in 2013 and 2014.

At the end of the 10-year baseline, corn prices stay just under $5 per bushel, still above pre-2007 levels.

With lower corn prices, demand returns for livestock feed and ethanol production. Both fell with high prices last year.

While FAPRI assumes average conditions, expect price volatility, Westhoff warned.

In a stochastic analysis, FAPRI computers draw 500 potential outcomes. Those show yearly corn prices that are below $3.50 per bushel 10% of the time and above $6 per bushel 10% of the time. Actual volatility and uncertainty may be greater, Westhoff said.

A rebound in global grain and oilseed supplies sharply lowers prices for soybean and wheat crops in 2013. Cotton prices stagnate in the face of large global stocks.

Soybean production was cut by drought, but not as much as corn. Late-season rains helped yields. For 2013, FAPRI estimates new highs in soybean production, exceeding the 2009 record. Prices drop sharply.

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