agri u ral
THE CROP REPORTERS MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1979 ECONOMICS, STATISTICS, AND COOPERATIVES SERVICE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
WHO OWNS THE LAND?
WHO OWNS THE LAND?
Draw a line from the western Other groups owning farm and
border of Minnesota south to the ranch land include the retired (in southern edge of Missouri and then many cases, retired farmers), white east below Kentucky and Virginia. and blue collar workers, and big Take the combined land area of business. the 22 States to the north and east of Corporations and large that line, add in North Carolina, and partnerships own about 106 million the total is about equivalent to the acres of farm and ranch land, only 493 million acres of U.S. land owned about 12 percent of the total. by farmers and ranchers. However, for all private land
Although farmers account for (farm and nonfarm), their share is only 8 percent of all landowners, 16 percent, even though they comthey hold the deed to nearly 40 prise only 5 percent of all lanpercent of all privately owned land downers. At 203 million acres, their in the Nation (excluding Alaska). total holdings are about equal to the Looking specifically at farm and combined land area of California, ranch land-which represents about Oregon, and Washington. 871 million acres of the 1.25 billion These figures are among the acres of all private U.S. land- results of a recent USDA survey on farmers own about half. Around 431 the ownership of privately held million of their 493 million acres are land. More than 37,000 individuals, in farms and ranches. partnerships, and corporations were
Groups OwninM PrivaTe Lahc
Percent of Owners Percent of Acreage Owned
Farmersy t large
1501 811 5 Patner5hips 97
Mher 21076 3
2(,O70 cDther5* Cororatimn
1316 lue 8A 4 large
fZu 507o arie atne rr White lar 137, 15077 hip5
Collar WWhite Refired
*Others include rnilitarl personnel, homemalkers,
and the unenipIoed.
2 September 1979
surveyed in 1978 by the Economics, they own the largest proportion in Statistics, and Cooperatives Service the Mountain States which stretch in an effort to find out more about from Montana south to Nevada, some 28.8 million owners of 1.25 Arizona, and New Mexico. They also billion acres of private U.S. land- hold over half of the private land in urban, rural, timber, ranch, and the Northern Plains, which includes farm land. the two Dakotas, Nebraska, and
Of course, privately held land Kansas.
excludes national forests and all Farmers own the smallest proporother public lands which, including tion of land in the Northeast Alaska, account for about 4 out of (Maryland and Pennsylvania north every 10 acres of U.S. land. Of this, to Maine). There the white and blue there are 762 million acres owned by collar groups dominate in overall the Federal Government and 136 landownership, but farmers still
million acres owned by State and own about 45 percent of the land in local governments. In addition, farms. some 51 million acres are held by, or In its profile of landownership, the in trust for, American Indians. survey also provides important
One important use of survey information on other characteristics
information will be to help of those who own private land. policymakers design programs Residence: More than 9 out of 10
which affect land use, such as owners of land (farm and nonfarm)
conservation, farm production, reside in the same county as the land supply management, credit, and that they own. These landowners
technical assistance programs. hold 80 percent of all privately
When combined with soils and owned land. Another 5.6 percent of
land use data, the information can landowners, with 14.5 percent of the also help provide a check on how land, reside outside the county but prime agricultural land is being within the same State. used and whether it's still in the Only 5.5 percent of the land is hands of farmers and ranchers. owned by the 2 percent of the owners
Although the survey -shows, as who live in another State. And, indicated, that farmers and cor- perhaps more important still, only porations own a much larger share one-tenth of 1 percent of those of the land than their numbers owning U.S. land-and a mere
might indicate, the reverse is true for 400,000 acres of land (or less than other major groups of owners. one-tenth of 1 percent of U.S. land)For example, 25 percent of all U.S. is owned by those residing outside landowners are professionals or the U.S. other white collar workers, but this
group of owners holds the deed to RESIDENCE OF OWNERS' only 13 percent of all private U.S.
land. Similarly, blue collar workers
own just 8 percent of the land, Percent Percent of
although they account for 26 percent Residence2 of owners land owned of all owners.
For both groups, the majority Same county 92.3 80.0
probably own residential properties Other county, which are typically much smaller same State 5.6 14.5
than farm or corporate land Other State 2.0 5.5
holdings. However, both groups Outside U.S. 0.1 (3)
together do own about a fifth of U.S.
farm and ranch land acreage. Excludes corporations and large partnerships.
Farmers' share of all private land 213esidence of owner relative to land owned. varies from place to place. By region, 31-ess than .05 percent.
Agricultural Situation 3
Concentration: Although an
estimated 28.8 million owners have FARM VALUES
title to some U.S. land, landownership by size of holding is STILL CLIMBING
highly concentrated. Overall, 1 Farmland values have risen far
percent of the landowners (in- faster than the rate of inflation in
cluding individuals, partnerships, recent years, and farmland and corporations) hold about half of purchases should remain a good all the private land. hedge against inflation over the
At the same time, about 75 percent next year.
of the owners hold only about 3 While inflation may be up around
percent of the land, with title to less 10 percent in 1979, farmland values than 10 acres each. Of course, the are expected to rise even fastermajority of landholders own about 14 percent.
residential or commercial properties This is only slightly below the on small lots, and these may still average annual gain since 1972 have considerable value. when a sharp surge in exports set
Among owners of farm, ranch, the stage for new trade levels and, in
and forest land-with their exten- 1973, sent farm income to a record sive uses-land holdings are more high. Since 1970, the average value evenly distributed. The largest 1 per acre of farmland and buildings percent of owners have less than 30 has about tripled for the 48 States, percent of the land in farms and excluding Alaska and Hawaii. ranches, a substantial proportion Capital gains on farm real estate
but sharply less than the share held provide no cash flow to help meet by the top 1 percent when it comes to loan payments, as farmers well all private land. Concentration is know. However, higher values do also less pronounced in areas where increase the net worth of the owners crop farming dominates than in and provide a rising source of
those where ranch or forestry use is collateral that can be borrowed prevalent. against to meet production expenses
Acquiring the Land: In coun- or for farm expansion.
tries with a "landed aristocracy," Last year, farm real estate values ownership of the land remains in the climbed as much as they're hands of the same families, passed predicted to rise this year: 14 percent on from generation to generation. for the reporting year ending on That isn't the case here. February 1, 1979.
According to the landownership Ohio, Nebraska, Arkansas,
survey, only 18 percent of the private Colorado, and California all land was inherited. About 80 percent reported gains of more than 20 of the land was purchased, and percent. On the other hand, an acre
three-fourths of that from non- of farmland in Utah, Arizona, New relatives. Mexico, and Nevada brought an
Acquisition from relatives is most average of only 7 percent more.
common in the Northern Plains Historically, strong export sales
where more than 40 percent of the and sharp increases in farm income land was either inherited or bought have spurred activity in U.S. from relatives. The proportion is farmland markets. This year, only 23 percent of the land in the however, there may not be enough Pacific States of Washington, land on the market to generate more
Oregon, and California. sales. If higher farm incomes
Purchase from nonrelatives stimulate buyer interest as in the
ranges from a low of 51 percent in past, a shortage of listings would the Northern Plains up to 69 percent add further upward pressure on in the Pacific States. prices.
4 Agricultural Situation
FARM REAL ESTATE VALUES
Average Value Per Acre of Land and Buildings
March March Feb. Feb. Feb. March 1970
1970 1975 1977 1978 19791 -Feb. 19791
----- dollars percent
Alabama 200 364 432 452 515 171
Arizona 70 111 120 125 134 100
Arkansas 260 419 521 571 691 145
California 479 653 673 761 936 74
Colorado 95 188 256 274 332 251
Connecticut2 921 1,525 1,779 1,962 2,158 167
Delaware 499 971 1,340 1,500 1,725 271
Florida3 355 685 ..777 838 _..930 150
Georgia- 234 474 509 564 609 180
Idaho 177 339 412 445 485 191
Illinois 490 846 1,431 1,581 1,786 312
Indiana 406 720 1,159 1,303 1,498 299
Iowa 392 719 1,219 1,268 1,458 317
Kansas 159 296 376 380 437 190
Kentucky 253 427 595 671 792 222
Louisiana 321 512 581 669 763 147
Maine2 161 341 400 441 485 167
Maryland 640 1,060 1,355 1,578 1,799 204
Massachusetts2 565 961 1,126 1,242 1,366 167
Michigan 326 553 767 860 955 182
Minnesota 226 429 652 730 854 309
Mississippi 234 379 404 464 520 123
Missouri 224 396 526 602 674 194
Montana 60 112 152 168 186 218
Nebraska 154 282 401 385 470 213
Nevada 53 85 87 97 104 135
New Hampshire2 239 564 661 729 802 167
New Jersey 1,092 1,807 2,004 2,057 2,222 190
New Mexico 42 78 89 93 100 111
New York 273 510 580 589 642 182
North Carolina 333 590 675 694 819 165
North Dakota 94 195 258 273 306 244
Ohio 399 706 1,121 1,263 1,516 290
Oklahoma 173 302 365 402 442 171
Oregon 150 250 278 303 330 120
Pennsylvania 373 734 978 1,092 1,245 270
Rhode Island2 734 1,500 1,758 1,939 2,133 167
South Carolina 261 467 529 543 635 201
South Dakota 84 145 194 227 257 239
Tennessee 268 467 545 608 669 175
Texas 148 243 286 316 354 137
Utah 92 188 235 248 265 138
Vermont2 224 462 541 597 657 167
Virginia 286 558 676 732 864 219
Washington 224 350 491 528 586 140
West Virginia 136 300 394 403 472 264
Wisconsin 232 434 583 690 807 260
Wyoming 41 80 101 105 119 178
1Preliminary. 2Average rate of change for the six New England States was used to project the dollar values for 1976 to 1979. 3Values are based upon an index estimated from the average of the percentage change in Georgia and Alabama index values.
September 1979 5
INTO THE 1980's
Behind a continuous flow of sur- Graham, like the two chairmen veys and reports, the scene is always before him, served about a decade in changing for USDA's Crop Report- that role, retiring from Federal ing Board. Better methods, im- service after over 30 years of work in proved techniques, expanded agricultural statistics for USDA and
coverage... .and, though not very its State offices. A few days later, as often, a new chairman. planned, he was on his way to the
Change came recently as John W. Philippines to work with that Kirkbride succeeded Bruce M. government on improving its Graham, who retired in July as agricultural estimating program. chairman of the Crop Reporting Kirkbride, who will lead the Board
Board and assistant deputy ad- into the 1980's, was raised on a farm ministrator for Statistics of the in Medicine Lodge, Kansas. BeginBoard's parent agency, the ning in summers and part-time
Economics, Statistics, and during his college years at Kansas Cooperatives Service. State University-where he earned
In the midst of the transition, both a degree in agronomy-and at Iowa men took the opportunity to reflect State, he has been involved in on their careers, some of the changes USDA survey and statistics work they've been a part of, and what may ever since. There was time out only be ahead for the crop reporting for World War II in which he saw program. action as an Army officer in the
John W Kirkbride pauses a moment from his new duties as acting chairman of USDA's Crop Reporting Board
6 Agricultural Situation
Pacific theatre. timely and regular information on
In addition to tours in current and prospective supplies. Washington, D.C., Kirkbride has "The increased interest and needworked in State offices in Kansas, to-know as soon as possible was one Kentucky, and Ohio. Since 1972, he of the reasons that the January 1 has been the director of Statistics' Planting Intentions report was Estimates Division, the unit respon- started in the early 1970's," recalled sible for analyzing and interpreting Kirkbride, who at that time was the survey data which the Crop director of the Estimates Division. Reporting Board uses in making its Since then, the demands on the estimates and forecasts. Board for more information have
In his new role, he presides over all continued to accelerate, not only in meetings of the Board; issues in- terms of covering additional comstructions for gathering, compiling, modities but, particularly, in terms and summarizing data for crop and of providing greater detail. livestock reports; and approves the .
statistical techniques and
procedures used in preparing the "One of the 5urest
Board's estimates. In these and d ".
related duties, he-more than melhoio Js to roVideanyone else-must bear the responsibility for the integrity and direm- greater opportunities tion of the crop reporting effort.
Although the chairman's name for fa rm'r. to be rarely makes the newspapers, he "s
manages a program that's become part of the one of the most quoted sources on
U.S. agriculture. But that wasn't AI I itlaf9
always the case. deeiiionmakln%
Not too long ago, news about crop e
and livestock reports could general- .. ly be found only in specialized
business publications. At the same time, the increased
In fact, according to Graham, one attention "made the Board even of the biggest challenges he and the more sensitive to the impact that Board had to face during his years estimates can have on the market," as chairman was "the explosion of Kirkbride added. Although the outside interest in the Crop Report- Board considers farmers and ing Board and its reports." ranchers to be its primary audience,
This started during the early the reports, by law, are public 1970's when suddenly low carryover information, and markets can be stocks clashed with unexpectedly influenced by many groups in the high domestic and foreign agricultural sector. demand-conditions that lit a fire For this reason, the Board has under commodity markets. been very concerned with helping
Before that time, the problem, if crop and livestock producers learn to any, was one of constant surplus use and benefit from its estimating which kept prices more or less at program. According to Kirkbride, loan rates. Changes in the supply there are ways the Board can help. outlook caused only relatively small "One of the surest methods is to changes in prices. provide greater opportunities for
When the new market conditions farmers, farm groups, and
ushered in the greater volatility in agricultural interests to be part of prices, farmers, industry groups, the decisionmaking process that policymakers, and others needed determines the kind of data that are
September 1979 7
published and the timing of such being in the sample is known. data. There also needs to be in- This means that the sample can be creased emphasis on informing constructed in such a way that it
producers on how reliable statistics represents a true cross section of can benefit them," Kirkbride said. U.S. farms or whatever is being
The Board already works with measured. It also permits the commany groups; for example, the putation of the sampling error so
American Seed Trade Association, that the precision of the results can National Potato Council, United be estimated. Egg Producers, International The second major component of
Association of Refrigerated the modem statistical methodology, Warehouses, American Farm objective measurements of crop
Bureau Federation, and the Society yields, also added significantly to of American Florists. Nevertheless, the reliability of Board estimates. he noted that such cooperation can Now, trained enumerators use acbe expanded. tual plant counts and measurements
The new chairman said that what from thousands of small plots in is needed from producers is an fields scattered across the country. organized structure with recognized According to Kirkbride, this spokesmen who have a mandate procedure allows "an orderly,
from large groups of producers to systematic evaluation of the represent them. development of the crop during the
"The National Cattlemen' s growing season."~
Association is now in the process of What does the future hold for crop forming such a committee, and we reporting? Graham cited two Board look forward to working with them," research efforts with potentially big Kirkbride added, payoffs: making better use of
Over the last three decades, both weather data, and increasing the men agree that the most important role of remote sensing by satellite. improvement in the estimating Remote sensing information is
program that they've contributed to already being used by the Board to is what Graham calls "the gradual supplement the more traditional adoption of modem statistical enumerative surveys. The chief technology." contribution of satellite technology
The two major components of this to the crop reporting program will modem statistical technology are probably be in helping to identify probability sampling and objective land uses (acreages to selected measurements of crop yields. crops) over wide areas.
Probability sampling was in- Looking ahead to the not-tooitiated on a pilot basis in 1954 and distant future, Kirkbride also has been progressively integrated speculates that many farmers may into the statistics program. That's a come to depend extensively on more difficult process than it may computers to monitor their appear. Probability sampling didn't operations. This suggests that replace random sampling in farmers might then be able to measuring cattle and hog inven- respond to surveys directly from tories until this decade, and work is their computer terminals. still going on in converting- In fact, Kirkbride said that "it's commodity by commodity-prices not beyond the realm of possibility"
received and paid data to a that surveys could someday become probability basis. instantaneous, with Crop Reporting
Probability sampling provides a Board computers accessing inforprocedure for selecting survey mation directly from on-farm samples so that the chance, or computers-with the farmer's perprobability, of each farm or farmer mission, of course.
8 Agricultural Situation
ble for credit on some farm products
THE CHINA under USDA's Commodity Credit
Corporation (CCC) Export Credit
MARKET Sales Program, but no request for
CCC assistance has yet been made.
China is a good bet to eventually Australia and Canada are not the become a $1 billion market for U.S. only rivals for the China market. farm products. Other U.S. competitors, or potential
In fact, U.S. farmers are scoring competitors, include Argentinabig gains in agricultural sales to the and possibly the European world's most populous nation, Community-in grains, Central
despite news of increased caution on America and Mexico in cotton, and the part of Chinese leaders over Brazil in soybeans and soybean oil. matters of trade and foreign debt. One of the pressures contributing U.S. farm product sales this year to more reliance on imports comes, have already passed $600 million of course, from a large and growing and may reach a record $700 million population. China must feed by Christmas. Last year, after between 900 million- and 1 billion virtually no sales between 1975 and people, and that number is expan1977, U.S. agricultural exports ding by an estimated 15 million a soared to $614 million, the highest year. Higher incomes have also level since 1974. contributed to increased demand for
The sharp increase in sales agricultural products. resulted from improved U.S.-China On the supply side, however, poor relations and, more importantly, agricultural performance has made from the substantial increase in it impossible to upgrade living stantotal Chinese farm imports. Chinii's dards without relaxing import agricultural purchases from all limits. China is well aware that sources last year jumped dramati- agriculture is one of the keys to its cally, nearly matching the $2.4 goal of self-sufficiency. billion record of 1974. And imports The expansion in China's farm will be still higher in 1979. sector requires some infusion of
Despite this rapid expansion in modem agricultural technology. imports, China has remained a cash Additional land available for buyer-except for grain bought from cultivation is becoming scarce, and Australia and Canada on 12- to 18- yields are not likely to be substanmonth credit terms. China is eligi- tially improved without increased use of inputs. The Chinese have
already come up with an extensive
list of agribusiness products and
0 equipment they want to import.
China's grain production did take
a turn for the better last year, but
gains were minimal between 1974
and 1977. Grains provide close to 80
percent of the average caloric intake
of the Chinese, in part because meat,
fish, and poultry are in chronic short
This makes China one of the
world's top wheat importers.
Purchases reached a record 8.1
million tons during 1978 and are
expected to climb still higher this
September 1979 9
Corn imports totaled 1.3 million China, are widely used for food, feed, tons last year, and they are also up and industrial purposes. Over the in 1979. In the past, China has longer run, China seems to be bought corn as a substitute for planning to rebuild its exports, at wheat when grain imports have least to traditional markets.
been large, prices favorable, and Production of other oilseed crops, world wheat supplies tight. There is although up in 1978, has not grown also some evidence that corn is enough to permit any significant being used for feed, possibly to increase in per capita supplies of edisupport an expansion in hogs and ble oil, now among the lowest in the poultry. world.
China has import agreements Edible oils appear to have conwith Argentina, Canada, and siderable potential for future growth
Australia which guarantee in trade because of limited supplies
purchases totaling 6 to 7 million in China and lack of crushing and tons of grain, mainly wheat, each processing facilities there. year through 1981. However, the During 1977 and 1978, China
Chinese have also indicated plans to imported a record average of 135,000 buy 5 to 6 million tons of U.S. grain a tons of soybean oil a year-enough year. to fill the needs of about 50 million
This suggests that the Chinese people. About 40 percent of these may expect to import as much as 11 imports came from the United to 13 million tons annually for the States. next few years. On the other hand, a Although China's agricultural shift in trade policies or improved imports have increased sharply in agricultural production could affect the last 2 years and will rise again in their import plans. Crop prospects 1979, the future trend for imports is so far this year are better than they by no means certain. were at this time in 1978, with Prime emphasis is to be given to
generally favorable weather for importing nonagricultural capital spring crops. goods and technology, a critical part
Although the trade outlook for of the program to modemize China's grains generally gets the most atten- economy. At the same time, China tion, grains are not the only major has taken a hard new look at its crops where production has been ability to pay for future imports. As disappointing to Chinese leaders. a result, planned purchases of some
Cotton output, which rose last industrial goods have been curyear for the first time since 1973, is tailed. still 15 percent below the peak So far, however, there is no indicareached 6 years ago. It has been one tion of major cutbacks in agriculof China's three largest agricultural tural imports. As long as China's import commodities in recent years, population continues to grow, detogether with grains and sugar. mand for food and agricultural proImports during the 1978/79 ducts will increase. If incomes start marketing year may reach a record advancing from their still-low 2.3 million bales, one-fourth of levels, there could even be a virtual which is expected to come from the explosion for higher quality United States. products such as meat and eggs.
The situation is similar for soy- Nevertheless, the new and more beans. Soybean output is still below cautious approach to trade and the record levels of the 1950's. Once international debt, together with the No. 2 exporter of soybeans prospects for rising debt obligations
behind the United States, China in the 1980's, indicate that there are became an importer in 1977. obvious limits on future increases in
Soybeans, a multiple-use crop in agricultural imports.
10 Agricultural Situation
The United Kingdom was in sixth
BILLION DOLLAR place, buying $1.26 billion in U.S.
CLUB farm commodities last year.
Soybeans, tobacco, feed grains, and
Amid speculation over whether animal products were the major China will become a billi6n-dollar items. market for U.S. farm products, it's Two other nations became billionworth remembering that there's dollar markets for the first time last nothing unique about that year. South Korea bought $1.15
benchmark. billion in U.S. farm products and
Not only are several other nations was the number 1 market for U.S. also in line, but eight are already cotton. Italy became our eighth members of that "club." largest market, reaching $1.03
Japan, the first to edge past the billion last year, largely from imbillion-dollar mark back in 1970, ports of U.S. oilseeds and meals, remains the leading single-country grains, tobacco, and hides and market for U.S. agricultural exports. skins. Last year, these exports were valued Of course, as each nation's needs at $4.5 billion, up from $3.9 billion in fluctuate, the ranking may change 1977. (All figures are adjusted for in 1979 and nations may join or transshipments through Canada leave the billion-dollar club.
and Western Europe.) However, the strength of U.S.
As it's been doing for at least a agricultural exports is not measured decade, Japan bought more U.S. by a few importers but rather the feed grains last year than any other scores of nations that buy U.S. farm country-including the Soviet Un- products. ion which is often in the spotlight.
Japan is also our best customer for
wheat and soybeans and number 1 LATEST STEP
or 2 for many other farm products.
Exports to our second largest IN OUTLOOK
market, West Germany, totaled Gathering production statistics
$1.91 billion last year. Oilseeds and was one of the first functions of meals made up over $1 billion of the USDA when it was formed in 1862. total, and other major items includ- By the end of the last century, a ed feed grains, nuts, and tobacco. steady stream of facts and figures
The Soviet Union, in third place, was flowing out of the Department. took a record $1.77 billion in 1978. But during the severe agricultural U.S. grain was the major sales depression following World War I, it commodity. became apparent that farmers needCanada was right behind with ed more than just numbers to un$1.66 billion in purchases, despite derstand and adjust to changing economic and transportation conditions. They also needed those problems. While the U.S. bought 16 numbers interpreted and
percent of Canada's farm exports, analyzed-they needed the
Canada got 58 percent of its statistical relationships unraveled.
agricultural imports from the U.S. Hence, the creation of USDA's Canada is our largest market for outlook program in the early 1920's. both fruits and vegetables. The original design of the outlook
Soybeans, feed grains, and other program-which was to provide animal feeds comprised over half of economic intelligence to those in the U.S. exports to the Netherlands- farm community-has remained our fifth largest market. Total ex- much the same over the intervening ports were valued at $1.53 billion in years. But its scope has broadened 1978. greatly, reflecting the very different
September 1979 11
circumstances of today's farmers production assets-showed healthy compared with their counterparts 50 signs, reversing a downward trend years ago. begun in 1974. The rate of return in
Today's farmers not only depend 1978 was 3.6 percent, compared with on far more sophisticated produc- a record low of 2.3 percent the year tion technologies, they also face far before. more complex marketing choices. Farm assets-including both
They need to know not only about financial assets and physical assets the domestic forces acting upon such as real estate, livestock, markets at home, but they also have machinery, and crops-were valued to be aware of world production and at $820 billion in 1978. import requirements since so much Assets rose by a record $107 of what they produce is sold abroad, billion in 1978, increasing more in a
To meet these broader needs of single year than during the entire U.S. farmers and other involved in 1960's decade. agricultural marketing, USDA At the same time, 1978 debt passed
recently began publishing a World the $137-billion mark, inflated by a Crop Production report. The world record rise of $18 billion from 1977. report is released every month However, the 1978 rate of increase in simultaneously with the U.S. Crop debt, at 15 percent, was down from Production report. the previous year.
The report is the first phase in the Farmers' equity (assets minus development of a reporting system debts) reached $683 billion in 1978. which, in future months, will include Equity rose by a record $89 billion, a world agricultural supply and double the gain of the year before. demand estimate report for key The farm debt-to-asset ratio for
commodities. 1978 increased only slightly from
The new report will provide a 1977's 16.7 percent but was the same consistent set of estimates for major as in 1970. That is, for each dollar of crops in important regions and farm debt, there were roughly $6 in countries of the world. Copies may farm holdings. be obtained from Information Ser- The average farm owner in 1978 vices, Foreign Agricultural Service, had more than a quarter million Room 5918 South, USDA, dollars invested in farm production
Washington, D.C. 20250. assets. Four-fifths of that investment lay in farm real estate.
BALA CE S EET Farmers' financial assets inBALA CE S EET creased by $2.3 billion in 1978,
The farm finance picture took a compared with $1.6 billion a year definite turn for the better last year, ago. The financial asset estimate according to a balance sheet report incorporates bank deposits, currenjust published. cy, U.S. saving bonds, and inA glance at the ledger shows that vestments in farm cooperatives. The farm debts and assets increased at 6-percent rise in financial assets comparable rates in 1978. Just a largely reflected a gain in co-op year earlier, debts rose at twice the investment. rate of assets. Under the liabilities column, farm
Farm income also improved real estate debt rose $8.6 billion.
sharply in 1978. Net income after To request the report, which ininventory adjustment rose $8.1 cludes balance sheets for each of the billion from 1977, compared with a 50 States, write to ESCS mere $1.1-billion increase in 1977 Publications, Room 0054 South over the previous year. Bldg., USDA, Washington, D.C.
Still another financial indicator- 20250. Ask for Balance Sheet of the the rate of return on equity in farm Farming Sector, 1979, AIB-430.
12 Agricultural Situation
RECENT REPORTS BY USDA OF ECONOMIC, MARKETING, AND RESEARCH DEVELOPMENTS AFFECTING FARMERS
THOSE EXPANDING EXPORTS.. .U.S. agricultural exports continue to climb. The expected record of $32 billion for the 1978/79 year ending this month may be topped in 1979/80 when export value is projected to range from $35 billion to $40 billion. U.S. exports reached $27.3 billion in 1977/78 after climbing from just over $8 billion since 1971/72. Although it's too early to forecast 1979/80 exports precisely, continued strength is suggested by many factors, including an anticipated sharp increase in grain purchases by the USSR to cover the shortfall in its grain production this year. Feed grain shipments to all destinations in 1979/80 may rise by about 10 million tons and wheat shipments by nearly 6 million tons.
RAISING THE LIMIT ON WHEAT. .The U.S. has authorized the Soviet Union to buy up to 10 million metric tons of U.S. wheat betweenAugust 1979 and September 1980. The authorization, announced in early August, granted permission for up to 2 million tons to be contracted and shipped during August and September 1979, the last 2 months of the third year of the U.S.-USSR grain trade agreement. The Soviets had already purchased the 15 million tons of corn and wheat that had earlier been authorized for the 1978/79 year. The 5-year agreement allows the USSR to buy a total of 8 million tons of U.S. corn and wheat each year without consulting the U.S. Government and requires them to buy at least 3 million tons of each.
BEEFING UP FARM PRICES... Meat prices may have hogged the consumer food news most of this year, but cattle and hogs certainly haven't called all the shots on the farm price scene. When the index of prices received by farmers first reached its all-time high of 246 in March, it did so despite lower hog prices that month, although higher prices for cattle and calves did contribute. When the index again hit 246 in May, after falling in April, both cattle and hog prices were down. The index was beefed up largely by higher prices for hay, wheat, citrus, corn, potatoes, and broilers. The record was reached for the third time in July-and again cattle and hog prices were off from the previous month. The index climbed on the strength of higher prices for corn, wheat, lemons, potatoes, and grain sorghum.
September 1979 13
PRICE PROSPECTS FOR GRAINS... .With a sharp boost from the export side, U.S. farm prices for 1979 grains are likely to average well above prices for last year's crop, even with the expected record harvest. USDA's mid-August forecast pegged average farm prices for corn at between $2.40 and $2.75 per bushel for the 1979/80 season. That's well above the $2.20-a-bushel average estimated for the 1978 crop. Sorghum prices were forecast at $2.30-$2.60 a bushel ($2.00 in 1978/79); barley at $2.20-$2.40($1 .90 in 1978/79); and oats at $1.25$1.45 ($1.18 in 1978/79). Wheat prices were projected at $3.50 to $4.25 a bushel for 1979/80, up sharply from $2.94 estimated for 1978/79.
PUTTING A "STOP" TO ILLEGAL RESIDUES... .USDA meat
inspectors will be testing a new screening device that can tell, in a matter of hours rather than days, whether animal tissue contains illegal antibiotic residues. The device, called "STOP" for Swab Test on Premises, will first be used on a pilot basis in 19 States to test cull dairy cows at federally inspected slaughterhouses.
NO DRYING REQUIRED... .Farmers who grow corn and sorghum no longer have to dry the grain to be eligible for Government farm-stored loans. Loans on high-moisture corn and sorghum will be issued at the loan rate in effect for the county where the crop is stored. However, for every 1 percent that the moisture level exceeds USDA's "dry grain factor," loans will be reduced 1.2 percent. The dry grain factor for corn is 15.5 percent; for sorghum it is 14.0 percent. Drying grain witty conventional fuels uses large amounts of energy. Since much of the corn and sorghum stored on farms is fed to livestock, drying of these grains is not essential.
COMMENTS SOUGHT. .. .The public has been asked to comment on the methods USDA uses in making U.S. crop and livestock estimates. The comments will be considered in an evaluation of the estimating methods and procedures to be conducted by a group of statisticians independent of USDA. This is in line with a recommendation of USDA's Inspector General and the General Accounting Office which reviewed USDA statistical operations in 1977 and 1978. Written comments and suggestions on current data collection and estimating methods or other information relevant to the evaluation may be sent to the Statistical Review Group, P.O. Box 23271, Washington, D.C. 20024. Comments will be accepted through October 12. MAR K THIS DATE. .. .Top government and industry advisors will offer a preview of next year, along with up-to-the-minute information on commodities, international trade, and economic developments, at USDA's Food and Agricultural Outlook Conference, November 5-8, in Washington, D.C. The annual conference is open to the public and there's no charge to attend.
14 Agricultural Situation
Item 1977 1978 1979-latest
Agricultural exports ($bil.) 24.0 27.3 232.0 August
Agricultural imports ($bil.) 13.4 13.9 216.3 August
Trade surplus (Sbil.) 10.6 13.4 215.7 August
Farm employment and wage rates:3
Total employment (1967 = 100) 85 80 76 July
Family labor (1967 = 100) 78 73 69 July
Hired labor (1967= 100) 103 100 87 July
Wage rates (1967= 100) 225 240 266 July
Farmer's share of retail costs (%):
Market basket of farm foods4 38 39 38 July
Meat products 55 58 54 July
Dairy products 50 51 53 July
Poultry 56 58 52 July
Eggs 66 67 66 July
Cereal and bakery products 13 14 16 July
Fresh fruits 29 31 29 July
Fresh vegetables 33 32 30 July
Processed fruits and vegetables 18 19 19 July
Fats and oils 36 34 35 July
Prices received by farmers for all
products (1967 = 100) 183 210 234 August
Prices paid by farmers for commodities
and services, interest, taxes,
and wages (1967 = 100) 202 219 251 August
1Data based on Oct.-Sept. fiscal years ending with years indicated.
2Forecast for fiscal 1979 (Oct. 1978-Sept. 1979).
3Annual averages for 1977 and 1978; data for 1979 obtained during survey week of July 8-14.
4Average annual quantities per household bought by all urban consumers, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics figures.
Crop SEPTEMBER 1979 0 VOL. 63 NO. 8
Reporting ERIC VAN CHANTFORT, EDITOR
Board (202) 447-8302
Contributors: J. Banks, D. Decker, G. Schumacher Design: J. Bazemore
Art: M. Eddins
The Agricultural Situation, published 11 times a year by USDA's Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service is distributed free to crop and livestock reporters in connection with their work. Contents of the magazine may be reprinted without permission. The Secretary of Agriculture has determined that the publication of this periodical is necessary in the transaction of the public business required by law of this Department. Use of funds for printing this periodical has been approved by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget through January 31, 1980. Subscription price $7.75 a year ($9.70 foreign). Order from the Superintendent of Documents, US. Government Printing Office Washington D.C. 20402. Single copes available from the ESCS Information Division, Rm. 505 GHI Bldg., USDA, Washington, D.C. 20250.
September 1979 15