It’s not as dire as the farm crisis seen in the 1980s, but ongoing trade uncertainty coupled with low commodity prices and rising interest rates has created challenging times for agricultural producers across the U.S. and Texas, according to experts.
A room full of who’s who in Texas agriculture, including farmers and those representing commodity associations, attending the 2019 Texas Ag Forum in Austin heard recurring talk of the importance of agricultural trade with China and the reliance on export shipments of everything from beef to soybeans.
Interest in Long-Term Trade
“Attendees at this year’s Ag Forum are really interested in the sensitivities of commodity prices to changes in exports, both short and long-term views on trade and outlook for U.S. meats, grains and fibers,” said Dr. Joe Outlaw, Ag Forum secretary and director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, opened the forum discussing the importance of agriculture on rural communities.
Moran encouraged members of Congress to support the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement “and not to leave us with no agreement.” He also supports key infrastructure in rural communities with access to healthcare. More importantly, Moran said he wants farming families to continue their legacy.
Beef, Pork Trade Outlook
Beef exports accounted for $8.3 billion last year, a 15 percent increase. Beef export value stands at $323 per head on U.S.-produced cattle. In addition to continued demand for red meat, the China market continues to be lucrative for tongue and hides. With Australia beef production on the decline due to drought, Borror said the U.S. is well positioned to continue to capitalize on export demand of beef.
Borror said global pork trade set a new record this year as strong demand for pork continues throughout the world. African Swine Fever has contributed to a 15 percent drop in production from China and Vietnam, which translates to a seven percent decrease globally. Borror said the U.S. can capitalize on the gap, providing the retaliatory tariffs levied by China are eliminated.
This year’s forum featured nearly 100 attendees representing all major Texas agricultural commodities and U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency and National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Honoring James Richardson, Farm Simulation Modeler
During the program, Outlaw honored Dr. James Richardson, who recently retired as co-director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M. Among Richardson’s innovations included FLIPSIM, or Farm Level Income Policy Simulator. The simulation model he developed has been used by Congress to evaluate countless farm bill proposals to determine both the good and bad financial outcomes for U.S. farmers.
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