U.S. farmers need to start planning now to survive stagnant commodity markets, agricultural economist Dan Basse told an audience at the American Seed Trade Association Tuesday. Basse, president of AgResource Company in Chicago, was appearing at ASTA’s CSS & Seed Expo for the sixth straight year. He didn’t deliver only bad news, but did say that the world economic “order” has shifted to disorder. Central banks are no longer working closely together, and factors such as Brexit, the North Korean situation, regional protectionism and President Donald Trump’s unpredictability are all contributing to financial risk and volatility in 2018 and 2019. Speaking of the impact of leaving the North American Free Trade Agreement, Basse said, “I hope it’s not true. We’ll see Chicago hit badly. These kind of trade negotiations are difficult, and I can only hope that this administration comes to its senses.” Basse projected that net farm income, which reached a high of $124 billion in 2013, will come in at $61 billion this year before falling to $56 billion in 2019. It will then slowly make its way back up to $69 billion in 2025, Basse predicted. He said there’s not much farmers can do to boost profitability other than becoming better business people and cutting costs where they can. He is advising his clients to try to lock in prices on the futures market – December 2019 corn reached $4.10 bushel on Wednesday, for example – to guarantee profits.
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