Farm Office Live on Monday April 27

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering the third session of “Farm Office Live” session on Monday evening, April 27, 2020 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.  Farmers, educators, and ag industry professionals are invited to log-on for the latest updates on the issues impact our farm economy.

The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the past week.  Topics to be highlighted include:

  • Update on the CARES Paycheck Protection Program
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Update
  • Ethanol and biofuel update
  • ARC and PLC Forecasts
  • Other legal and economic issues

Plenty of time has been allotted for questions and answers from attendees. Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss the on-line office hours, the session recording can be accessed at the following day.  Participants can pre-register or join in on Monday evening at 

Examining 2020 Corn and Soybean Acreage

By Ben Brown, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics – The Ohio State University – 4/24/2020

Click Here for a PDF Version of this Article

Spring acreage decisions are of interest to analysts and producers across the country, as COVID-19 disrupts supply chains and raises questions of longer-term demand shifts. Analyst have interest on the supply for the 2020/21 marketing year, while producers weigh profitability and agronomic considerations. The challenging part of the whole picture is that most alternative options are not any better than the first. Corn and soybeans compete for acres through most of the Corn-belt with cotton competing in the southern and southeastern portions, grain sorghum competing in the lower plains and small grains like spring wheat competing in the upper plains. Ohio does not have many large-scale alternatives outside of corn and soybeans due to growing conditions, access to end markets and specialized equipment limitations. Therefore, for most Ohio crop producers the options in randomized order are plant corn, plant soybeans, convert to forage or pasture, utilize prevented planting, Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or to idle the ground to do capital improvements and prepare for winter wheat or barley. This article examines acreage intentions, local profitability, and the estimated national supply of corn and soybeans.

Planting Intentions

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the summary of the Prospective Plantings Survey conducted annually the first two weeks of March on March 31, 2020. The survey of the planting intentions of 80,000 farmers is reviewed for reasonableness at both the regional field office and at the national level for accuracy.  The Prospective Plantings Report provides a summary of planting intentions at that point in time and because market and weather conditions change between early March and planting, the March report should not be used as actual producer intentions at planting, but a starting point. Principal acres of major crops were estimated at slightly over 319 million acres, a 16.5 million acre increase from the challenging 2019 growing season, but slightly down from 319.3 million acres in 2018.  The increase in principal crop acres largely came from coarse grain crops: corn, grain sorghum, barley and oats all up from 2019, 8%, 11%, 7%, and 7% respectively. The growth in feed grain acres outside of corn increases competition for feed use at a time when the livestock sector is adjusting to COVID-19 disruptions.

Crop producers indicated they intended to plant 96.99 million acres of corn and 83.5 million acres of soybeans. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate corn and soybean acreage intentions with percentage change from 2019 by state. States experiencing a greater than 20% increase in corn acres were states affected most by persistent rainfall in 2019 and large quantities of prevented planting acres. Almost all Corn-belt states indicated a 2020 soybean acre increase with Indiana being the exception matching their total from the prior year. Demand prospects for both crops are bearish for the upcoming marketing year.  Ethanol is estimated to be down roughly 55 million bushels/week and soft international exports of soybeans are also trending down due to relatively cheap Brazilian soybeans. As mentioned in last weeks update, soybean crush had a historic March 2020, but the prospects of strong crush continuing depend on logistical issues in competing countries as a result of COVID-19. The price impact for both commodities in evident in the ratio of new crop soybeans (November 2020) to corn (December 2020) currently at 2.5:1 up from 2.4:1 when the survey was taken. The higher ratio encourages more soybean acres, but timing is crucial. Given producers likely applied pre-planting nutrients and purchased seed, a larger ratio is needed to move significant national acres from corn to soybeans. Analysts have suggested 95 million corn acres. Over the last 20 years, corn acres declined more than 2 million acres from the March Prospective Planting Report to the  Final Acreage Report only once- 2019 when acres fell 3.1 million. Acres increased 3.1 million in 2007. However, there may be changes regionally due to local basis. In Ohio, when adjusting for changes in harvest basis the new crop ratio increased for soybeans to 2.68:1 on April 22 from 2.46:1 March 2. This strong increase would indicate there is potential for acres not already prepared for corn planting to shift to soybeans in Ohio.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Estimated National Supply of Corn and Soybean

Under the above planting intentions and the current outlook for corn demand, a large US ending corn supply appears imminent. With a historical relationship of harvested corn acreage to planted acres and a trend line yield of 178.5 bushel/acre this implies national production at 15.887 billion bushels- a new record. To match the record in 2016 at 15.148 billion with the same trend line yield, planted acreage would need to fall over 4 million acres. A reduction this large would require 0.3 million additional grain sorghum acres in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, increased spring wheat acres in the Upper Plains by about 1.2 million and close to 2.5 million acres switched to soybeans in the Eastern Corn-belt. While possible, this would still leave the US with a 17.4-billion-bushel supply which includes an expected increase in 2019/20 marketing year carryout. Under a scenario where the Safrinha crop in Brazil and the Black Sea region both have production declines due to drought, China increases purchases of US corn to meet its Phase 1 trade commitments and ethanol production returns to full capacity there is still roughly 2.3 billion bushels in 2020/21 carryout. This appears to be the best-case scenario for corn price with an average yield. A dry summer in the US reducing yields is an undesirable way to increase corn price. Under any scenario, the likelihood of a large US corn crop is likely with prices remaining below cost of production for many producers.

Any substantial reduction in corn acres is expected to increase soybean acres above the 83.510 million reported in the Prospective Planting Report. After a year of record soybean carryout built on decreased soybean exports in 2018/19 the drastically smaller than expected 2019 soybean crop of 76.1 million acres reduced estimated 2019/20 soybean stocks to a manageable level. Increasing the soybean acres above the Prospective Planting Report by 2 million aces with a national trend line yield of 50.5 bushel/acre implies a 4.278-billion-bushel crop, the fourth largest on record. While domestic soybean crush has continued to set new monthly records and will likely increase year over year, US soybean exports continue to fall below the seasonal pace needed to reach the current USDA estimate of 1.775 billion bushels by 260 million bushels or 15%. Support for US exports in the current marketing year will likely need to come from China buying large quantities of US soybeans August through December. When looking at demand for the 2020/21 soybean crop one concern is the market signals Brazilian producers are receiving to expand soybean production and therefore exports. In last week’s market outlook, it was discussed how currencies in Brazil and Argentina have fallen roughly 30% compared to the US dollar. This decreases the incentive to buy US products in the short-term, but since commodities in South America are based off the Chicago Board of Trade, the decreased currency rate also encourages Brazilian producers to lock in high prices and expand production in the long-term. Without stronger international demand, the US soybean crop at 83.5 million acres and supplies at 4.7 billion bushels appear adequate to reach $8.50 cash soybean prices for 2020/21.

Figure 3.

Production Cost Considerations

Examining relative prices is one part of estimating Ohio acreage adjustment from the Prospective Planting Report, with the second part being consideration of production costs for each commodity given expected prices at planting. Historically, when both corn and soybeans have had market prices in the early spring below estimated costs, preference has been given to soybeans due to lower variable costs. Corn is given preference when both crops show anticipated positive returns. Illustrated in Figure 4 is the difference in contribution margins between the two crops for west central Ohio cropland. The contribution margin is the difference between expected market revenue and total variable costs. To get expected market revenue the regional harvest basis bid was subtracted from the harvest futures price during the 3rd week of April for both commodities each year and multiplied by a 40-year trend yield. The variable costs are sourced from annual OSU Production Budgets produced by Barry Ward. This calculation represents what was known to producers directly before planting each year. Since 2014, soybeans have been favored to corn acres at planting. Crop insurance and government payments coupled to production have changed this relationship in final returns per acre in years of adversity, but that income support was unknown to producers at planting. Similarly, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments are not tied to production and therefore are not included. The difference in 2020 contribution margins is the strongest since corn was favored before the 2011 growing season at $102/acre.

Figure 4

Anticipating Acreage 4.24.2020

Based on the March 1st Grain Stocks Report released by NASS on March 31, 2020 Ohio had roughly 44% of the 2019 corn production in on-farm storage and roughly 35% of the 2019 soybean production held on-farm. At these levels there was a significant decline in farm level working capital as Ohio cash prices declined due to COVID-19. It is estimated that $19.90/ acre in 2019 crop revenue has been lost since the beginning of March when adjusted for the percentage already sold. For a farm of 1,100 acres split 50/50 corn and soybeans this would result in a working capital decline of $21,890. This working capital would have likely been used to pay input costs related to the 2020 crop. Selling old crop corn and soybeans on the cash market currently is undesirable for most farms. Finding alternative ways to generate short-term working capital is anticipated. Interest costs have declined for operating loans and additional cost savings can come from switching to soybean acres. However, even for soybeans the market conditions at this point in April are worse than the same point in recent years including 2018 when trade disputes negatively impacted soybean prices before planting. Farmers may want to consider the potential of switching to soybeans and look to make new crop marketing sales.


The planting intentions reported by US producers during the first of March coupled with current demand prospects make a corn supply near 18 billion bushels likely during the 2020/21 marketing year. A large soybean increase near 5 billion bushels is also possible. Market conditions always change between the March Planting Intentions Report and when planting starts, with 2020 futures prices already accounting for lost demand and the potential of large supplies. A reduction in planted corn acres with increases to grain sorghum, spring wheat and soybeans is expected. The reduction is likely not going to be more than 2 million acres making the 2020 corn crop with expected yields a new record. Marketing conditions and financial considerations would support a sift to soybean acres in the Eastern Corn-belt and looking for opportunities to market new crop soybeans at current harvest prices. Little new crop corn marketing is happening, with the hope of short crops globally. As farmers know, a lot can happen between now and harvest, but market conditions suggest a continued deterioration of farm financial positions in 2020.


Brown, B. “The March 2020 Soybean Crush Report is One for the Record Books.” Ohio Ag Manager. The Ohio State University. April 24, 2020.

Cash Prices. ProphetX. DTN. April 23, 2020.

“Grain Stocks Report.” National Agricultural Statistics Service. United States Department of Agriculture. March 31, 2020.

 Prospective Planting Report.” National Agricultural Statistics Service. United States Department of Agriculture. March 31, 2020.

Ward, B. “OSU Farm Budgets.” Farm Office. The Ohio State University Farm Office. April 23, 2020.

COVID-19 Impact on Ohio Sheep Producers

By Tim Barnes OSU Extension, Marion County

Lambs are just one of the many agricultural commodities that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is never a good time for a pandemic to strike, but COVID-19 hit the sheep industry at the traditional best market price.  Spring lambs are a family favorite for traditional Easter meals (April 12), Orthodox Easter (April 23), the Muslin feasts of Ramadan (April 23 to May23), some Jewish sects for Passover (April 8-16), and the secular May 10 Mother’s Day celebration.

America’s biggest market for fresh lamb is in the area from Baltimore to Boston.  Major East Coast packers relay on the close location of Ohio producers (Ohio has the 5th most producers in the US) to provide a steady source of fresh lamb.  The “white tablecloth restaurants” and the other segments of the food service industry account for over 50% of the United State lamb consumption.  As demand builds back to pre-pandemic levels, Ohio lambs will continue to be a large part of the East coast supply chain.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ohio Sheep Facts:

-Lamb Price from United Producers Mt. Vernon collection point (weekly, low & high prices are recorded, and the average number is used for these calculations.) The dollar price represented is lost value in market decline from March 13 to April 10 sales.   The gross revenue for each lamb has dropped 25% from the lamb market value in early March.

  1. Lambs 131# -$61 = (.47 cwt X 131)
  2. Roaster 60# -$27 = (.45 cwt X 60)
  3. Hair lambs -$24 = (.30 cwt X 80)
  4. Aged sheep -$45 = (.30 cwt X 150)

-Producers questions have generally been directed to the decision to sell Easter lambs at this time or add additional weight and sell them later in the fall.  Each case will need to be evaluated on an individual basis and will depend on resources and financial stability.

-Club Lamb & Breeding Stock Producers are selling their sheep privately or through online sales.  Quality animals are being sold at expected values.

-Ohio Lamb feeders have been able to move their contracted lambs but noncontracted market lambs are not able to be sold.

Sheep industry facts:

  1. Second largest lamb packer in United States declared bankruptcy
  2. Currently, packers in West Virginia and New York City have suspended operations.
  3. New Holland, Pennsylvania Lamb Market (largest lamb market in the Eastern United States) sold 5500 head of lambs on April 3rd and 2000 head on April 10th.
  4. National weekly slaughter is down 15%, national production is down 22%, & live weight is steady at 138 pounds.
  5. Strong US Dollar continues to support imports from Australia & New Zealand (260 million pounds of lamb which represents 66% of lamb consumed in the US on an annual basis).
  6. National cold storage is steady with past 5-year averages.
  7. Wool has lost 88% of value and pelts have lost 75% of their value due to closed exports to China.

In closing, this pandemic is another call from Mother Nature that no matter how hard we try to redirect her work, she produces chemical resistant weeds, mutant viruses, and extreme weather.  Change is upon us, so embrace the new normal!


COVID-19 Impact on Ohio’s Beef Industry

by: Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Henry County.

COVID-19 has had profound impacts on our food and livestock production systems here in the U.S. With regards to the beef industry the impact has been felt locally and throughout the country. Locally here in Ohio, with the JBS plant in Souderton closed, and reduced packing capacity in other regional packing plants, the local cash market for fed cattle has been greatly diminished. For the past two weeks, auction markets in the state have asked cattle feeders to hold off on bringing fed cattle to market due to packing plant closures and overall lack of packer demand.

Like most of agriculture, timing is critical for the livestock production supply chain to flow as it is designed. What is the impact of holding market ready cattle in local feedlots? Economically, cash flow concerns for small to medium size cattle feeders may arise as packing capacity remains limited. Immediate impacts for cattle feeders include increasing days on feed, selling heavier and potentially higher yield grade cattle once the market returns. Most packing plants have discount schedules of Yield Grade 4 and 5 cattle in addition to carcass weight specifications.

There have been discussions regarding slowing the rate of gain or transitioning livestock to a maintenance diet. As fed cattle sales are delayed, the cost of gain increases, more feed is required, and cattle are less efficient as they reach or pass optimal harvest condition.

In a study commissioned by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and led by Derrell Peel, Breedlove Professor of Agribusiness and Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist at Oklahoma State University the total losses to the US beef industry were estimated at $3.7 billion or the equivalent of $111.91 per head for each mature breeding animal. The losses for the cattle feeding segment of the industry was projected to be at $3.0 billion or $205.96 per head.

Worth noting, one bright spot with regards to fed cattle is that demand at the local level has greatly increased. Local meat processors have reported record retail beef sales, however large increases in local demand are often tempered by the lack of cooler space available in small plants that are already working at capacity. The cattle supply is available, however logistics remain a challenge.

While local stocker prices have been relatively stable, especially for calves going to grass; the NCBA study estimates that stocker/backgrounder losses averaged $159.98 per head, or $2.5 billion country wide.

Prior to COVID-19 cull cow and bull processors were operating at or near capacity, given the current status in the dairy industry, that trend is likely to continue. Beef cow-calf operators have an opportunity to add some condition to cows currently on the cull sheet if it can be done at an economic cost of gain.

The beef industry and all of agriculture is currently navigating uncharted territory with the disruption to the supply chain caused by COVID-19. If you have questions reach out as additional information is available from state-level Extension, and the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association are available to assist producers in these difficult times.



COVID-19 – Impacts on Ohio’s Swine Industry

by: Steve Moeller, Department of Animal Sciences, State Swine Extension Specialist

Like many livestock sectors, the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s and the Nation’s swine industry have been multi-factorial and ever-changing.  In response, the National Pork Board has maintained an on-line COVID-19 information center at which is updated multiple times per day based on new findings.  The impact is now being felt as the number of ‘short-term’ packing plant closures seem to increase daily. Plant closures will impact the industry as a whole in a number of ways, namely: 1) U.S. production is matching packing plant capacity and both are at record levels, thus a regional lack of shackle space will likely occur, 2) Swine production is now nearly constant, centered around weekly flow and optimization of space utilization, thus pig spaces are full and need to be continually emptied to make room for incoming production, 3) Distribution channels from packing plants to consumers are not as efficient, leading to challenges in managing product movement from the packer to the consumer. Additional plant closures, particularly if they occur from Indiana eastward will place a significant burden directly on the producer; 4) The bright spot:  Export markets have helped offset some of the supply, particularly trade with traditional partners in Japan and Mexico, but with added sales to China.

Economic challenges have also followed the shut-downs due to COVID-19.  A few points to consider: 1) Bellies, the long-standing staple for adding value to pork; price January, 2019 – $1.72/lb.; price January, 2020 – $1.19/lb.; price April 10, 2020 – $0.46/lb.  Demand for bellies has dropped due to restaurant and food service closures, compounded by a supply of bacon in packages too large and in locations not amendable to retail trade at the grocer.  Take home: EAT MORE BACON!!!!! (for more information on pork prices see: ; 2) Carcass prices received have dropped considerably from early January, 2020 (~$0.563/lb. carcass) to April 14, 2020 (~$0.36/lb. carcass) reducing revenue per head by over $40.00 per pig produced (; 3) Weaned pig (~21 days of age) cash prices reported between $2.00 and $16.00 per head, on a breakeven production cost near $35 to $40.00 per weaned pig; 4) Ethanol production facilities have been shuttered, reducing access to distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) which offered lower cost energy and protein options for producers.  Shift back to traditional corn-soybean meal diets as being most cost effective; 5) Concern regarding sourcing of key amino acids and vitamins via import from global stocks.

Producer responses have been mixed and guarded as one would expect in times of challenge.  Considerable interest in slowing growth rates in finisher swine if market access is restricted.  Dietary changes to add fiber, tightening feeder adjustments to slightly restrict feed flow, and many other options have been proposed; yet, this is a short term solution when pig flow is dictated by births and space needs from the sow units (for more information consult:  Sow harvest numbers have trended higher in the past few weeks, an indication that some producers may be cutting herd size back. Likely these numbers represent the poorest performing animals first, but with continued pressure indications are that some producers may consider liquidating.  There are also groups looking to reduce numbers of piglets through planned euthanasia or abortion, as last resorts, to relieve numbers in already full production systems. Significant challenges in each of the identified areas as the caregivers, managers, owners maintain a very vested interest in welfare friendly production of high quality, safe food.

In summary, COVID-19 has had a multitude of negative effects on Ohio’s swine sector, many of which have ripple effects on individuals and their communities.  Outreach education and information from state-level Extension, the Ohio Pork Council, and the National Pork Board are available to assist producers in these difficult times.

Meat vs COVID-19; The good, the bad and the ugly of supply and demand

by: Stan Smith, OSU Extension, Fairfield County

To suggest that supply in local meat cases has been disrupted since schools closed and ‘stay-at-home’ orders were issued last month might be an understatement.

The good is simply this. We have more than adequate supplies of market ready livestock on the farm to accommodate the consumer’s demand for meat.

The bad is that COVID-19 caused disruption to the meat supply chain that created short term shortages in the meat case, and fluctuations of price in both the meat case and especially livestock at the farm.

The ugly is these concerns are likely to affect both the farmer and the consumer for weeks, and perhaps even months to come. The solution to the chain of events that have caused the problems in the supply chain all revolve around how quickly COVID-19 is arrested and the lives of consumers and all the members of the meat supply chain can return to normal.

First, to understand the solution one must have an understanding of the inter-related actions and reactions that caused the meat case shortages and livestock price fluctuations experienced in recent weeks, and perhaps into the foreseeable future.

The story begins early in 2020 when the livestock markets were reacting negatively to the concerns of the potential impact COVID-19 could have on exports when it hit the U.S.

In mid-March when it became obvious COVID-19 had arrived in the U.S., markets shifted their attention to domestic meat supplies. On March 16 when Ohio’s schools closed, they were no longer offering lunch to 1.7 million schoolchildren. Families were suddenly needing to shop for food – including meat – to prepare at home. A week later Ohio’s stay-at-home order was issued. That resulted in restaurants closing or only offering drive through service and families were once again headed back to the grocery to stock up as they prepared to create even more meals at home. As Americans were now suddenly no longer spending more than a third of their food budget on meals prepared away from home, the markets reacted with a short-lived spike in livestock prices as supply scrambled to keep up with demand in local meat cases.

It’s now April and the markets have shifted their focus away from the demands of simply feeding the consumer, but are now concerned about packing plants operating below capacity or temporarily closing down due to the impact the virus is having on the labor force in those plants. While demands for meat in the retail case remains strong, and livestock inventory is more than adequate to supply that demand, the loss of U.S. harvest capacity is now causing a backlog of market ready livestock at the farm. The net result is strong prices in the meat case at a time when farm gate livestock prices are depressed simply due to the lack of a market outlet.

Today, consumers are again facing the potential for temporary disruptions to the meat supply chain until packing plants can get back to full production. At first glance this may seem to be a short-term problem the consumer can simply manage around. Unfortunately, the same is not necessarily true for the livestock owner.

If a consumer must prepare a meal without meat because of an empty meat case, it’s a meat sale that is lost forever. At the same time, along with lost packing house capacity and resulting delayed animal sales comes market ready livestock that continue to grow – and create more meat – every day they are held off the market. Even when restaurants are allowed to reopen, the question remains, “How quickly will consumers return to restaurants, and can the supply chain quickly shift again and provide the meat they will demand in timely fashion?”

Until COVID-19 subsides and enough healthy work force is available to restore the U.S. packing house capacity and entire supply chain structure, we will continue to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of a disrupted supply and demand. Consumers may experience temporary meat case shortages while livestock producers will be faced with marketing challenges, depressed prices, and the need to remain flexible in their livestock feeding and marketing plans moving forward.

The three articles that follow focus more closely on the impact COVID-19 is having on beef, swine and lamb producers and their individual markets.


Join OSU Extension for Farm Office Live on April 20

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering the third session of “Farm Office Live” session on Monday evening, April 20, 2020 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.  Farmers, educators, and ag industry professionals are invited to log-on for the latest updates on the issues impact our farm economy.

The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the past week.  Topics to be highlighted include:

  • Update on the CARES Paycheck Protection Program (It is out of money!)
  • WHIP+
  • Update on commodity prices
  • Update on Dairy Margin Coverage program
  • Update on Unemployment compensation
  • Other legal and economic issues

Plenty of time has been allotted for questions and answers from attendees. Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss the on-line office hours, the session recording can be accessed at the following day.  Participants can pre-register or join in on Monday evening at 

The March 2020 Soybean Crush Report is One for the Record Books

Click here for a PDF version of this article

By Ben Brown, Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, The Ohio State University – 4/17/2020

The National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) released their March 2020 soybean estimates on Wednesday April 15- a day that usually is not held in high regard due to US tax collections. That is until this year, when federal income tax filings could be deferred to the middle of July and NOPA released a report further solidifying one of the few bright spots in the agricultural marketplace amid COVID-19 disruptions. The report indicated that monthly soybean crushing by the organization’s 13 members who account for approximately 95% of all crushed soybeans in the US reached a new monthly crush record of 181.374 million bushels.  This far exceeds any previous month and the market analyst expectation for the month of 175.163 million bushels. The March total is the first month above 180 million bushels and bested the previous record set just two months earlier by 6.211 million bushels. Soybean crush during the 2019/20 marketing year has been supported by strong domestic and international demand for soybean meal and healthy crush margins with new records being broken in four out of seven reported months- October 2019, December 2019, January 2020 and March 2020.


The USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report released April 9th increased 2019/20 marketing year crush by 20 million bushels from the February estimate to 2.125 billion bushels. This forecast would also be a record and 1.6% higher than last year’s total. Only September and November have failed to exceed the monthly values from the prior marketing year. At 181.374 million bushels reported by NOPA and a consistent rate with recent monthly USDA crush reports, the March crush report is estimated at 192.5 million bushels. That puts the seven-month cumulative total for the current marketing year at 1.265 billion bushels, roughly 60% of the April WASDE forecast. US soybean crush needs 859.5 million bushels over the remainder of the marketing year or 172 million bushels each month to meet estimates. Monthly crushing has exceeded this value every month besides September, justifying the April USDA increase.  The US crushed 851 million bushels between April and August a year ago. Cumulative soybean crush is currently 9 million bushels ahead of the seasonal pace needed to reach USDA’s estimate of 2.125 billion bushels. The less than one percent advantage over seasonal adjustments implies 2.140 billion bushels. At this implied value, 2019/20 would be a 2.3% increase over 2018/19. This is not out of the question, but infrastructure capacity will be tested. US soybean crushing increased year over year by 8% in 2014/15 and 2017/18 when new infrastructure was built- the increase averaged 1.2% in other years. Current market conditions support USDA meeting and possibly exceeding the April WASDE Estimate if demand holds for the remainder of the marketing year.

Soybean meal prices have fallen in recent weeks with the rest of the agricultural commodities back to levels seen in early February on the futures market. Some cash markets have remained elevated as soybean meal demand replaces the lack of dried distillers grains in feed rations where appropriate. The May soybean meal contract closed at $291.8/ton on April 16, 2020 roughly $45 less than three weeks prior. The April WASDE report increased domestic soybean meal use 300,000 tons to 37.1 million tons, 2.7% above last years disappearance. With a national hog herd 4% larger than last March and a near record cattle on feed number elevated soybean meal for feed use seems likely to continue. One caution would be the announcement of pork and beef packing facilities either closing or slowing output as a result of COVID-19. Packing slowdowns decrease the demand for live animals and producers are forced to slow the rate of gain in animal growth and thus feed usage. However, if packing plants start reopening and moving toward full speed soon and ethanol production remains suppressed, putting a limit on DDG availability, it is possible to see increased feed use for both soybean meal and corn.

Strong soybean meal exports are also supporting increased crushing. The April WASDE report increased the forecasted value for exports during the marketing year to 250,000 tons. At 13.45 million tons the current marketing year will be 104,000 tons below the 2018/19 total after exports lagged heading into the start of the marketing year primary on strength of South American crushing and currency exchanges. The Peso has depreciated 32% against the Dollar since August 1, 2019 with a similar drop to the Real. Through the first seven months of the marketing year, soybean meal exports sit 4% below the same period last year and total commitments are 3% below the three-year average. However, this has improved from the weak sales and exports in November and December. Outstanding sales for the remainder of the marketing year are just over 2.7 million metric tons but remain 12% below the outstanding sales reported at this time last year. Increased exports to Canada and Central American are only partially making up for decreased sales to Vietnam (-63%), the European Union (-40%) and Japan (-56%). Unless COVID-19 continues to cause logistical challenges in Argentina it is difficult to see how the US maintains the strong export sales experienced in March. It is possible to see a reduction to 13.35 million tons of soybean meal exports.


Soybean oil prices have found a little strength on technical support in the last couple weeks after being on a steady decline since the start of the calendar year. Soybean prices started the year at just over 35 cents per pound before bottoming out mid-March at 25 cents per pound. This was the lowest value for soybean oil since October 16, 2006. Soybean oil import forecasts have been reduced for China, India and Venezuela on weaker economic activity and reduced competitiveness for biodiesel to gasoline. However, reduced production in Argentina due to COVID-19 did allow the US to pick up some soybean oil sales. Price competitive palm oil prices out of Indonesia are putting pressure on soybean oil exports. World stocks to use of oils at 6.3% is 1.3% less than a year ago on increased palm, soybean and sunflower use. Accumulative export sales through the first seven months of the year sit 40% above the same period a year ago, but sales also started out the year very strong. Total commitments for the year sit 28% above the three-year average with outstanding sales of roughly 309,000 metric tons which is 64% above a year ago with large sales to South Korea in March. Even with a reduction of 200 million pounds in the April WASDE, exports in 2019/20 are estimated to be almost 24% above last years oil exports. Given the strong export sales already this year it is likely that the US will exceed last years value, but lingering COVID-19 impacts on biodiesel and economic activity globally make maintaining the rapid export pace unlikely.

COVID-19 has put a damper on strong domestic use of soybean oil. Current estimates are for a 474 million pound reduction in domestic disappearance of soybean oil to 22.4 billion pounds. Lack of motor fuel use continues to put downward pressure on biofuels eroding the forecast as people stay home.

Summary: The March NOPA crush values shattered monthly crushing records on increased demand for both meal, strong oil exports and healthy crush margins for processors. Historical pace would imply 2019/20 soybean crush at 2.140 billion bushels, but infrastructure constraints and declining demand for soybean oil compared to March could dampen soybean crush through the remaining six months. USDA raised soybean crush 20 million bushels in the April WASDE to 2.125 billion. At this time that adjustment is justified, but we might not see a crush report like March for a while.




For Farmers Markets without a Facility due to the COVID-19 Crisis, What are the Rules on Access to Restrooms?

by: Amanda Douridas, Christie Welch, Peggy Kirk Hall

With the closing of many public places and government buildings, some farmers’ markets may be left without their usual access to restrooms. What are the requirements for market managers to provide restroom facilities?

The Ohio Revised Code states that restrooms must “be readily accessible to farmers’ market personnel when the farmers’ market is open for more than four consecutive hours.” Note that this requirement applies to “personnel” or employees of the market. There is not a restroom requirement in the regulation that applies to vendors or customers of the farmers’ market.

One option for easily complying with this rule is to limit farmers’ market hours to four hours or less, since the obligation applies only if the market is open for more than four consecutive hours. For markets that are open for more than four hours, the other option is to rent a portable toilet for personnel if permanent facilities are not available.  And while there is no requirement for restrooms to be available to the public, some markets like to offer this as a courtesy to their vendors and shoppers.  In light of the social distancing orders, use by customers may be very limited or non-existent. But what about your market personnel?

We know during normal operations, many markets have restroom access, especially for vendors.  But during the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that many of the facilities that markets had access to are now closed; portable toilet rental might be the best option. Markets may be able to get a reduced rate if the toilet is only being used for a few hours a week. Locking the toilet with a padlock when the market is closed will ensure no one accesses it outside market hours. The code also state “[a]ll equipment and facilities used in a farm market, farmers’ market, and a farm product auction shall be maintained and clean.” So, it will need to be maintained and cleaned. A temporary hand washing station can be setup using a 5 gallon thermal container with warm water and a 5 gallon bucket to catch the water. Add soap and paper towels on the table, along with a trash can for a complete station (see graphic for example).

If restrooms had been available, but now will not be, let vendors know so they can be prepared for the change. This would be a nice courtesy to them since vendors are unable to leave during market hours.

Also make sure your vendors and customers understand this is NOT business as usual.  While we love farmers’ markets for their social atmosphere, those activities need to be stopped to help maintain everyone’s safety and health. The goal at this time should be to allow customers to access locally produced food from farmers with as little interaction as possible. Signage to remind your customers to maintain social distance, to not touch the produce, and to get their items and exit the market quickly are also good practices at this time.

For more information about operating farmers’ markets during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may want to check out the Ohio Farmers Market Network resource page:


From the University of Kentucky Best Practices for Sampling At Farmers Markets

“Farm Office Live” returns Monday, April 13 at 8:00 p.m.

OSU Extension is pleased to be offering a second “Farm Office Live” session on Monday evening, April 13, 2020 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m.  Farmers, educators, and ag industry professionals are invited to log-on for the latest updates on the issues impact our farm economy.

The session will begin with the Farm Office Team answering questions asked over the past week.  Topics to be highlighted include:

  • Update on the CARES Paycheck Protection Program
  • Update on the Dairy Economy
  • Examination of how COVID-19 is impacting agricultural exports
  • Bureau of Workers Compensation’s announcement  of dividend returns
  • A look at the long term macro economic impact of COVID-19
  • Will property taxes be delayed?
  • Potential Legal Impacts of COVID-19

Plenty of time has been allotted for questions and answers from attendees. Each office session is limited to 500 people and if you miss the on-line office hours, the session recording can be accessed at the following day.  Please register at