Heather Hadddon and Julie Jargon reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “The U.S. is on track this year to post the longest stretch of falling food prices in more than 50 years, a streak that is cheering shoppers at the checkout line but putting a financial strain on farmers and grocery stores.
“The trend is being fueled by an excess supply of dairy products, meat, grains and other staples and less demand for many of those same products from China and elsewhere due to the strong dollar. Lower energy costs for transportation and refrigeration also are contributing to sagging food prices, say economists.”
The Journal writers noted that, “Nationwide, the price of a gallon of whole milk on average was down 11% to $3.06 in July over a year ago; the price of a dozen large eggs fell 40% to $1.55 in the same period.”
The article pointed out that, “Those great bargains at the grocery store are spreading pain across the Farm Belt. Farmers and ranchers are getting less money for raw milk, cheese and cattle, forcing them to slash spending. Tractor suppliers like Deere & Co. are cutting production due to the farming slump.”
More specifically, the Journal article indicated that, “Ben Moore, a sixth-generation farmer who grows corn and soybeans on some 5,000 acres in Indiana and Ohio, said 2016 is shaping up to be his least profitable year in 20 years. Facing weak crop prices, he is making do with his current tractors and combines rather than upgrading his equipment, and is pushing for lower prices on pesticides, seeds and fertilizer.
“On Monday, corn futures, which peaked in 2012 at more than $8 a bushel, closed at $3.11 ¾ a bushel, a seven-year low, on the Chicago Board of Trade.
“‘We cannot withstand $4 a bushel corn,’ Mr. Moore said.”
Meanwhile, Doug Cameron reported in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that: “With global grain bins already brimming, the prospect of another huge harvest has weighed on crop prices, and the government expects farm profits to be at their lowest level in more than a decade.”