via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Chief USDA economist comments on key farm
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U.S. farmers will plant around 90 million
acres of corn in 2009 and cut back a bit on wheat, according to USDA chief
economist Joe Glauber. Soybean sowings would be stable next year, he said.
Glauber said at a conference sponsored by Farm Journal magazine
that grain and soybean prices would remain volatile because of tight supplies.
He pointed to the recent decline in ammonia prices as one of the reasons
favoring corn over soybeans in some regions of the country for 2009.
Regarding ethanol, Glauber
said profitability in the sector “is a key issue.”
On the soybean sector, Glauber
detailed that China is 70 percent dependent on imports, showing the growing
importance of China on the world soybean sector.
Food price inflation should rise at a
slower rate in 2009, an effect of the fall-off in market
prices since the summer, he noted, adding that food prices might rise
4.0 percent to 4.5 percent in 2009.
Glauber said he still sees an improvement
in U.S. beef exports despite downturns expected for pork
and poultry ahead, as the U.S. beef trade sector garners more sales in the
Glauber said he would soon be returning
“full time” to his role as USDA's chief economist,
as he has been spending time working on Doha Round trade talks.
Regarding the U.S. farm economy,
Glauber noted the debt-to-asset ratio shows the U.S. agriculture sector
in good financial standing, with the lowest debt-to-asset ratio on record,
and that during the last five years, $1 trillion have been added to the
farm asset base, largely due to higher farmland values.
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.