What is in this article?:
- Why the marketâ€™s ho-hum reaction to this year's late corn crop?
- Change in market fundamentals
- More cushion than numbers indicate
“We’re set up this year pretty much exactly like last year: tight corn stocks and a fair amount of demand rationing," says John Anderson, senior economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington. "The bottom line situation looks very similar," he says, "yet the market's reaction has been muted."
PRODUCERS MATTHEW BOYD, from left, and David Boyd, Sandhill, Miss., and Matt Bayles, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Ridgeland, were among those attending the annual Farm Bureau soybean, corn, wheat, and feed grains committee meeting.
Change in market fundamentals
“The real bottom line, and I always harp on this, is the stocks-to-use ratio. We’d have about 2 billion bushels of carryover and a 15 percent stocks-to-use ratio. That’s more corn than we’ve seen in years and would be a huge change in the market’s supply fundamentals.
“That’s what the market has been focused on, as opposed to the late planting.
“I would argue also that there is also quite a bit of slop built into the USDA’s demand projections — going from 4.4 billion bushels of feed use this marketing year to 5.2 billion next year? Theoretically, we could, but how realistic is that? That’s a big jump in feed use in a year’s time, when you’re talking about close to a 1 billion bushel increase in feed and residual use in a single marketing year. I think that’s probably an unrealistic number. “
A somewhat similar situation applies with the forecast for exports, Anderson says.
“Can we go from 700 million to 1.3 billion bushels in a single year? The exports numbers are a lot more elastic than a lot of the other numbers on the balance sheet. We’ve got cheap grain, and if buyers want it they’ll come get it. But that would be a huge recovery of market share in a single year. I think that number, too, is a bit optimistic.”
Looking at demand side of the market, Anderson says USDA’s projection for this year “would be pretty remarkable in terms of recovery — it would be a bit more than an 80 percent increase year over year. We can go back a long way and not see that kind of recovery in exports.
“I think that’s a really optimistic number, particularly when we consider that for most of this time the U.S. has had by far the lion’s share of the export business, but it’s still a smaller share of world corn exports than in a long, long time. Given that smaller share, I believe it’s optimistic to think we’ll get that kind of recovery in export demand.”
The projections call for nearly a 20 percent increase in total feed and residual use year over year, Anderson notes, and “That’s a big change. It’s tough to change livestock numbers that fast, dealing with biological systems that have fairly lengthy production lags. Poultry can turn around faster than any other livestock sector, but even there you’re somewhat constrained on how quickly you can get your numbers up and increase feed use.
“Going back to the late 1980s, there’s never been a 20 percent year over year increase in feed use. The closest was in the mid-1990s, when we went up about 16-18 percent. That was the period when poultry production was growing 6-8 percent per year and exports were going crazy. That’s not happening now; it’s more like 2.5 percent.
“So, can we support a 16-18 percent increase in feed use with the livestock sector we have right now? I won’t say it can’t happen, but again, I think that’s a fairly optimistic number.
“To get the kind of use numbers USDA’s talking about, things are going to have to break just right. Which takes me back to my original question: Why hasn’t there been a bigger market reaction to late plantings?