Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bumper Midwest Crop Should Hold Down Prices for Consumers

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Bumper Midwest Crop Should Hold Down Prices for Consumers

Article excerpt

A YEAR after flood waters caused unsurpassed devastation in the Midwest, United States farmers have bounced back and begun to reap a bumper corn crop and a record soybean harvest.

"Almost everywhere around us we are looking at a good crop this year," says Mark Schneidewind, who owns 160 acres planted in corn and soybeans near Marissa, Ill. "It's there. It's just a matter of getting it out of the fields now."

"There is a tremendous rebound in production {of these crops} over last year," says Paul Prentice, president of Farm Sector Economics Inc., a consulting firm in Colorado Springs, Colo.

A big harvest and prospects for low prices are good news for US consumers anxious about rising inflation, agricultural economists say.

Poor soybean and corn production overseas will stimulate exporting, usually a sure-fire route to profit for US farmers. Exports of both crops will rise 13.4 percent this year, according to a report released Monday by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The harvest packs such promise that most US farmers are probably less vexed now by the Great Flood of '93 than by how the expectation for a silo-brimming harvest has depressed purchase prices, agronomists say. "Prices are definitely too low, but they should start creeping up later in the year," Mr. Schneidewind says.

The estimated 2.32 billion-bushel soybean crop will exceed last year's harvest by 28 percent, while the expected corn harvest of 9.26 billion bushels will surpass the tally for last year by a barn-bursting 46 percent, the USDA reports.

The cheap and abundant grain, used in feed and processed foods, should help slow the price rise of meat, poultry, and other supermarket items. In August, food prices surged 7/10ths of 1 percent, contributing to a surprisingly strong 6/10ths of 1 percent increase in producer prices.

YET the biggest smiles are probably amid the rich fields across the Corn Belt - from western Ohio to eastern Nebraska and northeastern Kansas. "The mood on the nation's farms is much better than last year," says Darrel Good, a grain-marketing specialist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The high yields more than make up for the dramatic fall in the purchase price of corn and soybeans since early this year. …

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