Agricultural Production and Prices

Markets for major agricultural commodities are typically analyzed by looking at supply-and-use conditions and implications for prices. From an economic perspective, these factors determine the market equilibrium. In the U.S. agricultural sector, many interactions and relationships exist between and among different commodities. For example, corn production and prices affect feed costs in the livestock sector.

Crops account for the largest share of the value of U.S. agricultural production

The value of agricultural production in the United States rose over most of the last decade due to increases in production as well as higher prices. Yield gains for crops were particularly important, although acreage also rose in response to elevated prices from 2008 to 2012. Falling prices in the last two years, accompanied by some reduction in acreage, have led to a 15-percent decline in the value of crop production since 2012. While livestock production increased over the decade, high feed costs and drought led to slower growth in recent years. Cattle herd rebuilding combined with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) to reduce red meat production by almost 4 percent in 2014, pushing overall red meat and poultry production down more than 1 percent. Higher prices more than compensated for lower production, resulting in a 17-percent increase in the value of livestock production last year.

Farm-level prices have declined from recent highs

Although prices for agricultural commodities frequently vary from year to year, they have generally moved higher since 2000. In these aggregate measures, inflation adjusted prices for crops were up more than 38 percent above their 2005 levels, while those for livestock rose over 29 percent from 2006 to 2018. Prices for both crops and livestock have fallen since 2014, however, as U.S. and global markets responded to higher prices by increasing production.

Last updated: Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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