What is in this article?:
- Looking ahead: soybeans will drive commodity markets
- Soybeans in driver's seat
- South America infrastructure
A key question in commodity markets, says John Anderson, American Farm Bureau Federation deputy chief economist, is, “What’s soybean acreage going to be in 2014?" But, he says, the even more relevant question is, "How many acres will corn give up, and to what extent will Corn Belt farmers shift away from corn and back to beans?"
MAX ANDERSON, from left, Decatur, Miss.; Quinton Mills, Forrest, Miss.; and Shelby Beason, Philadelphia, Miss., were among those attending the annual meeting of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.
South America infrastructure
How long will it take for South America to get on top of its infrastructure problems, Anderson was asked.
“Nobody can say with any certainty, but I think we have to assume, from the standpoint of our planning and strategic thinking, that they’ll get their problems worked out start making the capital investments needed for their infrastructure to run fairly smoothly.
“Brazil is a much bigger country than the U.S., and their infrastructure situation is never going to be the same as ours. They’ve got a lot of potential for inland waterways, but they’re not where they’d like to be, whereas we have an almost ideal situation in our ability to develop infrastructure. Maybe we’re not managing ours as well as we ought to be, or making the longer term investments in maintenance that we should, but we have a situation that’s better than theirs. [It costs Brazilian farmers, on average, almost twice as much to ship 1 metric ton of soy to Shanghai as it does an American farmer, according to USDA.]
“They have a lot of potential though, and I think we have to assume at some point they’ll start getting the most out of it. But that’s probably at least 10 years away.
“I’ve got less confidence in Argentina; their situation isn’t so much an infrastructure issue as it is a policy issue, and I think they’re going to continue to be handicapped by that.
“I think the longer-term outlook is better for Brazil than Argentina. But from a defensive standpoint, I think we need to assume at some point they’ll start making good decisions and good investments and that they will start to catch up.
“They may not — but if we assume they won’t, we can get ourselves in trouble.”