Ag policy centers see concern and hope

Leaders of the agriculture policy centers at Texas A-&-M and the University of Missouri have made the case for both concern and hope for the U.S. ag outlook.

Joe Outlaw, co-director of the Agricultural & Food Policy Center at Texas A-&-M says times are really tough and most producers are below break even, “What we’re trying to do is make sure everyone understands that conditions are not terrible yet but we can sure see them continuing to get worse unless prices rebound some.”

Outlaw says one positive is that producers went into this downturn in better financial shape than the 1980s, “But, unless the price increases relatively soon we could see some ‘80s-like conditions where we would not see widespread bankruptcies and things but they would be a lot more common than they are right now.”

However, Pat Westhoff with FAPRI-MU says while there are lots of reasons to be uncertain about ag’s future, the four straight years of above trend yields offers some light, “Remember, we’ve now had four straight years of above-trend yields for major crops around the world. Well, just going back to more normal yields some year would actually help the situation somewhat.” Westhoff says there’s reason to think the ag economy won’t stay where it is forever.

Joe Outlaw and Pat Westhoff were among the presenters at the Abner Womack Missouri Agricultural Outlook Forum Friday at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Farm near Columbia, Missouri.

Presented their March 2017 U.S. Baseline Briefing Book – projections for Agricultural and Biofuel Markets – to congressional staff the first full week of March.


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