Big Oil vs. Big Corn – commonly discussed as though they are competing against one another for their greater interests and though this is certainly true, they are very dependent on one another both directly and indirectly. Farmers produce crops, in particular corn & soybean, with a large portion sold to refiners and used in the production of biofuels and ethanol. Farmers have used increasing amounts of energy over the years to produce their commodities such as fuel to power their equipment and to transport products all over the world. Although they often have competing interests there is a correlation and linkage between both industries.
On Monday of this week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their crop progress and conditions report with worrying results across the board. To put things simply, the US is way behind in Corn and Soybean planting and farmers are growing very concerned. Most markets across the country are seeing records set for percentage of crops planted vs their five-year average.
U.S. corn planting is at 49% completion, which is behind the 80% five-year average at this point in the year. Iowa farmers have 70% of the state’s corn planted vs 89% five year average – Indiana has 14% planted vs 73% five year average – Nebraska farmers have 70% planted vs. 86% five-year average.
Similar to corn the soybean industry is heavily lagging behind their five-year averages with 19% completion vs 47%.
The US agriculture industry is facing two major challenges in 2019 so far with trade and weather. The US-China trade war that has been going on for the past year or so is drastically affecting farmer’s exports and their ability to make a profit and remain sustainable. Mother nature has also blasted the Midwest with rain and causing record flooding and infrastructure damage while not showing signs of slowing anytime soon with a forecast of wet conditions for another few weeks. Farmers are certainly going through a lot of adversity at this time and we can only hope they can catch a break and things turn around.