Have Payment Yields Kept Up with Actual Crop Yields?

Given all the discussion in Washington these days focused on updating crop base acres, it made me wonder whether farm program yields (PFC payment yields) have kept pace with actual crop yields.  Most people refer to the mid-1980s as when crop bases as we currently know them were set based off of a producer’s planting during the early 1980s.  It made sense to start with the U.S. average payment yields from the target price/deficiency payment program from 1985.  The 1985 yields were compared to PFC payment yields from 2021 for the major crops.  As seen in the table, corn (35.2%), rice (26.6%) and wheat (19.7%) experienced the highest percent change in payment yields over the 1985 to 2021 period. Seed cotton, soybeans, and peanuts all became normal program commodities after 1985 so there isn’t a comparison yield for that time period. 

The percent changes in actual yields were evaluated from 1985 to 2021 for all of the listed commodities with upland cotton replacing seed cotton in the actual yield evaluation.  Several commodities (corn, soybeans, upland cotton, rice, and peanuts) all experienced a significant increase in actual yields.  

While this is only evaluating 2021 relative to 1985 it does indicate that nationwide, corn, wheat, and rice producers have done a good job of using yield updating opportunities to increase payment yields.  On the other hand, both actual and payment yields for grain sorghum have largely stayed the same over the period.

Outlaw, Joe. “Have Payment Yields Kept Up with Actual Crop Yields?Southern Ag Today 3(31.4). August 3, 2023. Permalink