U.S. farm exports to set a record, but not as big as expected
China is buying less U.S. crops and livestock than expected, particularly soybeans, and America’s ag exports are feeling the pinch. Sales are forecast at a record $175.5 billion this fiscal year, said the USDA on Tuesday, but just like the record set last year, the crest was not as high as it looked in the summer.
Cropland values soar by 15 percent in Midwest and Plains
High commodity prices and low interest rates fueled a sharp 15 percent increase in the value of cropland in the Midwest and Plains in the third quarter, according to surveys of ag bankers by four regional Federal Reserve banks. “Alongside prospects for further strength in commodity markets, the outlook for farm finances and agricultural land values through the end of 2021 remained strong,” said a summary of the surveys.
Meat prices climb on high demand and supply constraints
Strong consumer demand for meat and labor shortages at packing plants were factors in persistently high meat prices this year, said the USDA on Tuesday in a monthly report on food inflation. Meat prices were forecast to climb by 6.5 percent this year, double its long-term average of 3.2 percent annually.
Today’s Quick Hits
Sugar sale suit: The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block U.S. Sugar Corp. from acquiring rival Imperial Sugar Co., alleging the transaction would reduce competition in sales of refined sugar in the Southeast and result in higher sugar prices for consumers. (Justice Department)
Newspapers for sale: Hedge fund Alden Capital, with a reputation for slashing newsroom staff, offered an estimated $686 million to buy newspaper chain Lee Enterprises, whose 75 daily newspapers include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Omaha World-Herald and Buffalo News. (Poynter)
Foreign-owned farmland: There are no federal restrictions on foreign ownership of U.S. farmland and 2.7 percent, or 35.2 million acres, of U.S. privately-owned agricultural land is held by foreigners and foreign entities. (Congressional Research Service)
Heat waves hurt: Short bursts of high temperatures are a greater threat to the survival of plants and animals than long-term warming, say researchers. (High Country News)
Locusts for lunch: The European Commission has approved migratory locusts, expected to be marketed as a snack or food ingredient, as a food for humans. (Food Safety News)