Washington | Reuters –– U.S. farmers will plant fewer acres of soybeans, corn, wheat and cotton in the 2015-16 marketing year in response to falling prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Thursday.
At its annual Agricultural Outlook conference, USDA forecast lower prices for most major U.S. crops following bumper harvests in 2014-15.
“Consecutive record crops have trimmed prices for many crops,” said USDA acting chief economist Robert Johansson. “Further price reductions are expected for the 2015-16 crop year, falling near Farm Bill reference prices for many crops.”
USDA projected 2015-16 U.S. corn plantings at 89 million acres, down from 90.6 million in 2014-15. The government projected soybean plantings at 83.5 million acres, down slightly from 83.7 million in 2014-15.
USDA forecast 2015-16 all-wheat plantings at 55.5 million acres, down from 56.8 million in 2014-15. Seedings of winter wheat are down 1.9 million acres from a year ago, but Johansson said plantings of spring wheat should rise, particularly for durum wheat, which is used to make pasta.
Johansson said drought persisting in the southern Plains wheat belt since 2011 has eased somewhat, improving prospects for the grain and pasture.
Seedings of cotton are expected to fall to 9.7 million acres from 11 million a year ago.
In an exception to the trend, USDA forecast that seedings of minor feed grains would rise 9.1 per cent to 14 million acres, driven by export demand for sorghum from China.
USDA projected U.S. agricultural exports at US$141.5 billion for the year ending Sept. 30, down from fiscal 2014 but still the second-highest on record.
Agricultural exports to China are expected to fall by US$2 billion from 2014, but the nation should remain the U.S. farm sector’s biggest customer in 2015, for the fifth straight year.
— Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen, Karl Plume and Elvina Nawaguna.