#AgAlerts: Sugar shortage; small farmers; wheat’s falling numbers

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A roundup of news, reports, and research on agribusiness and related issues.

The closing days of 2019 find small farms pummeled from every side: a trade war, severe weather associated with climate change, tanking commodity prices related to globalization and political polarization.
It is the worst crisis in decades.

Looking at farm income: Indemnities from federally subsidized crop insurance, estimated at $6.5 billion, and direct government payments, estimated at $22.4 billion, would combine to account for 31% of farm income this year. 

A simple equation of the 2019 planted corn acres (90 million) and the total corn prevent plant acres (11.4 million) tops more than 100 million acres. With all the uncertainties, could farmers lean toward that huge number in 2020?

If USDA’s forecast bears out, producers will have ultimately harvested the least amount of total sugar beet acreage since 1961. USDA estimates that’ll amount to a 933-million-pound drop in output, and added that reduced productivity in Louisiana, also linked to rainy weather, would contribute another 211.6 million pounds to the projected deficit.

Falling numbers happens to some of the wheat crop most years — but this year, the phenomenon has been ubiquitous. And it comes at a time when farmers in northwest Minnesota are already dealing with the results of late planting, short growing seasons, muddy fields and a near-constant barrage of challenges all year, in everything from corn to soybeans to sugar beets to sunflowers. The wheat crop was the one bright spot this harvest season. And then: Falling numbers.