Some big 2021 unknowns persist, including how COVID-19 will continue to disrupt markets and demand, whether government payments will continue to be robust and whether or not U.S. farmers can pivot to gathering more of their income from the marketplace.
The 2018 farm bill isn’t due to expire until 2023, but there is a growing possibility that Congress could revisit the law as soon as next year either to deal with the slumping farm economy or to address climate change.
Economists already were predicting that 2020 would be another tough year for the farm economy even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and oil prices plunge. Now, a top farm economist who’s advising USDA says he expects the pandemic to have a “very large” impact on farm income.
Now that President Donald Trump has signed the historic $2 trillion economic relief package into law, work now turns to getting the money out as quickly as possible. “This doesn’t do anybody any good if it takes a long time,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday.
Producers’ support for President Donald Trump has grown despite sluggish exports and their own worries about their financial condition as the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 has developed, according to the latest Agri-Pulse poll of U.S. farmers and ranchers.
Farmers are expected to produce record amounts of meat, milk and major crops this year as the agriculture economy rebounds from 2019’s trade and weather disruptions, but exports are forecast to rise relatively modestly in coming months despite the new trade deal with China, USDA says.
Call it what you want — a “plateau” or a “slow-motion recession” — the ag economy is not performing well, and successful producers will be those who can innovate and manage their farms well, speakers at the annual Agricultural Bankers Conference in Dallas said this week.
Agriculture Department officials and some outside experts expect landowners to sign up for the land-idling Conservation Reserve Program in the largest numbers in at least a decade due to the slow farm economy.