The Corn Economy

Mar 2023

Videos and Webinar Recordings

Content provided for the Corn Economy by NCGA's Lead Economist, Krista Swanson. 

Mar 31, 2023

Agriculture and the Economy: An Assessment of Our Current Situation Versus the 1980s

Key Issues: ProductionResearch

Author: Krista Swanson

The recent banking fallout and economic comparisons to the 1980s are likely to grab the attention of anyone in agriculture. Fortunately, the general economic environment and financial positioning of farmers is quite different than that period. Here is a look at three key points, with data to assess the current conditions as compared to the 1980s.   Highest Farm Debt Since 1980, But Stronger Farm Solvency   The USDA has forecast total real (inflation adjusted) farm debt at $535.1 billion for 2023, continuing what has been a relatively steady upward trend throughout the 2000s. Up until 2020, farm debt remained below the 1980 inflation adjusted peak of $501.7 billion. Since 2020, farm debt levels have been higher, but near the peak points of the earlier era. The comparison of today’s farm debt levels to 1980 may be concerning, but other important values differ.   In the 1980s, real estate accounted for only half of total farm debt. For 2023, real estate accounts for 70% of total...

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Mar 17, 2023

Phosphate Farm Prices Remain Elevated, It’s Time for Action on Import Tariffs

Key Issues: TradeProductionResearch

Author: Krista Swanson

Phosphorus, an essential nutrient for plant growth and development, is important for corn productivity. Farmers use fertilizers to replenish phosphorus and other nutrients in the soil to maintain healthy and fertile land, but vital fertilizer management comes at a high cost. This is especially true for corn producers, particularly right now.   Since 1996, average annual fertilizer costs were about one-third of total operating costs incurred in growing a corn crop. For 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) projects fertilizer to make up 46% of the total operating costs incurred by the U.S. farmer in growing a corn crop, unchanged from 2022, but up from 37% for the 2021 crop and 35% for the 2020 crop. Aside from 2008, the current fertilizer-to-operating-cost ratio is at the highest point since the 1970s.   Compared to other major commodity crops, corn not only has the highest fertilizer costs in dollar value, but also the highest fertilizer-to-operating-cost...

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