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Office of the Chief Economist

Nation’s Wettest 12-Month Period on Record Slows Down 2019 Planting Season

The contiguous United States recently completed its wettest May to April period on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA/NCEI). From May 2018 to April 2019, an average of 36.20 inches of precipitation fell across the Lower 48 states, 6.25 inches above the 20th century mean. In fact, it was the nation’s wettest 12-month period on record, regardless of which months are chosen.

Abundant Supplies are Forecast for the Coming Crop Year in the U.S. and Around the World

It’s a new year at USDA, at least for those of us forecasting agricultural commodity markets. Every May, the World Agricultural Outlook Board (WAOB) in the Office of the Chief Economist releases USDA’s initial projections of the markets for the crops and livestock that will be produced and harvested in the new crop year. WAOB develops USDA’s official forecasts by coordinating Interagency Commodity Estimates Committees (ICECs) to compile the latest and most comprehensive information and intelligence available from across USDA agencies. On May 10, USDA released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report with these estimates for the 2019/20 crop year. The report also includes updated information on the 2018/19 and previous marketing years, but the early assessment of the “new crop” is a focal point of the May report.

USDA Report is First to Provide Consolidated Data on Conservation Practices by U.S. Farmers

Increasingly, food companies, environmental organizations, and agricultural commodity groups are setting ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from farms. These goals are realized through conservation practices such as reduced tillage farming, and precision technologies, like autosteer tractors. Yet, there’s not much nationally consistent data to help farmers and policymakers know which practices are being used, and how the adoption of those practices is changing over time.

Macro Trends in the U.S. Food System: A Q&A with Anne Effland, Senior Economist, USDA Office of the Chief Economist

What are the macro trends in food production and policy? In this blog, USDA Senior Economist Anne Effland gives an overview of how consumers are shaping the way food is grown and how USDA is supporting the evolving food system. Read more in the article Effland co-authored with Carolyn Dimitri in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems.

The U.S. Drought Monitor: A Resource for Farmers, Ranchers and Foresters

Even before the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, agricultural producers have recognized the economic and emotional devastation that drought can cause. Recently, the focus has shifted from dealing with drought as an unexpected hazard, to more proactive planning for the inevitability of drought. One of the tools available to producers is the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), a weekly map of drought conditions produced jointly by the USDA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Next Generation of Agriculture at the Ag Outlook Forum

On February 22-23, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted the 94th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF), welcoming hundreds of current and rising agricultural leaders. The event brought together public and private stakeholders to discuss key issues in U.S. agriculture. Among those representing the future of American agriculture were this year’s USDA Student Diversity Program winners, students from the Virginia chapter of the National FFA Organization, and students from the 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities. These special guests shared their impressions of the event.

The Global Customer for American Agriculture

Last week, nearly 1,600 agriculture stakeholders gathered at the 94th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, the USDA’s largest convening. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and other distinguished speakers shared their insights on upcoming challenges and opportunities in agriculture, including infrastructure, regulatory reform, industry, governance, and farm policies.

USDA Agencies Collaborate to Produce Trusted and Reliable Commodity Market Information

Since its inception nearly 100 years ago, USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum has provided analysis of the farm economy, including the short- and long-term outlook for agricultural commodity markets. Producing credible and reliable information about supply and demand conditions for all the major crop and livestock markets, along with the implications for prices, production and trade, is a year-round process that relies on expertise from dozens of highly-trained analysts spread across several USDA agencies, including USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).