Falling Corn Prices, Higher Calf Prices

Two big USDA reports in the last week have boosted livestock prospects at the expense of corn prices.  The annual Acreage report included larger-than-expected corn acres which put downward pressure on corn prices. The report listed corn acres at 91.5 million acres which was 1.4 million acres higher than the March Prospective Plantings report projected. After corn prices surpassed $6 for the 2022/23 marketing year, prices fell below $5 for the current marketing year, and are projected to be closer to $4 for the 2024/2025 marketing year. 
While higher than previously projected, corn acres will be slightly lower than 2023 totals. However, good growing conditions are supporting higher yield expectations when compared to 2023. The latest WASDE report included a yield estimate of 181 bushels per acre which would be higher than the 177.3 from a year ago. Stronger yields could lead to corn production for 2024 not being far off from the 2023 total. 
Also released last week was USDA’s Quarterly Grain Stocks Report which includes estimates of corn stocks held on farms and in elevators. Total corn stocks on June 1st were estimated to be 5 billion bushels, up 22 percent from 2023 and the highest June 1 total since 2020. Most of these stocks are still being held on farms as farmers await better pricing opportunities. But, the old common problem arises of holding stocks while supplies grow and prices continue to fall.  On farm corn stocks were just over 3 billion bushels, which is roughly 800 million more than last year and is the largest June 1 total since 1988. 
Overall, the news is positive for livestock producers. The simple takeaway is that corn production and stocks are expected to be plentiful, and corn prices are back to lower levels after surging a few years ago. This should continue to bring relief to livestock feed costs and reduce the cost of gain for cattle.  This year’s corn crop is not in the bin yet, so production risks remain that could influence price. Falling corn prices should continue to push calf prices further into record territory.  Returns to hog and poultry production will get a much needed boost from lower feed costs.

Maples, Josh, and David Anderson. “Falling Corn Prices, Higher Calf Prices.” Southern Ag Today 4(28.2). July 9, 2024. Permalink