Farm News & Views - February 28, 2023
The USDA projects U.S. agricultural exports will decline by $2.5 billion from last fiscal year’s $196 billion. At the same time, agricultural imports are projected to expand by $5 billion from $192 billion in FY 2022. This will result in an agricultural trade deficit of $3.5 billion, the second largest deficit since 1990. The drop in U.S. agricultural exports is partly the result of tight domestic supplies of cotton, beef, and sorghum. The projected increase in agricultural imports is primarily driven by grain and feed imports, up by $ 9 billion, an almost $3 billion increase for imports of horticultural products, sugar and tropical products that are projected to be up $1.8 billion.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted that egg prices will fall dramatically this year, provided that the United States doesn’t have a rebound in outbreaks of avian influenza. In January, the price of a dozen eggs was up 150% from a year ago. USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer predicted that the 2023 wholesale egg prices will fall almost 27% as the number of egg-laying chickens rebounds and producers take steps to protect their flocks.
In a recent commentary article in Farm Progress Magazine, Dan Keppen, executive director of Family Farm Alliance, pointed out that former Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt recently publicly aired his view that agriculture in Arizona and California is to blame for the gridlock in solving pressing Colorado River challenges, which matches what some urban water managers and their supporters believe. Keppen wrote that Babbitt was quoted, saying that "Agricultural irrigation districts in Arizona and California resist offering cuts, claiming an absolute priority under century-old legal doctrines." However, according to Keppen, some irrigators in Arizona have already taken cuts. For example, most Central Arizona Project farmers lost 70% of their Project supplies last year and in 2023 and beyond, they’ll lose 100% if the Colorado River hydrology doesn’t improve. The Imperial Irrigation District has proposed to conserve up to 250,000 acre-feet of water per year, increasing its conservation commitments to 24% of its annual entitlement, and other irrigation districts in both Arizona and California stepped up months ago with new proposals to contribute significant water supplies to maintain both Lake Powell and Lake Mead. But Keppen believes that a workable solution and a plan for the Colorado River Basin is attainable, and that answers can be found using hard facts that don’t pit urban and agricultural interests against each other. The Family Farm Alliance is an organization that advocates for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in seventeen Western states.
The USDA 2023 annual Farms and Land in Farms Report, was released recently. It reported that there were 2,002,700 farms in the nation in 2022. That’s a decline of 9,350 farms from 2021. In 2022, about 51% percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales and the average farm size was 446 acres, that’s up from 445 acres in 2021, which may indicate that farm consolidation was in play. The largest farms, that averaged almost 3,000 acres in size, with sales of $1 million or more, operate nearly 26% of U.S. farmland, which is six percentage points more than they did a decade ago.