The 105-page annual report provides a
lookahead at nearly every major agricultural product, from barley and
beef to staples like corn and soybeans. Unsurprisingly, it predicted
strong growth in demand for food because of world population growth and
an expected increase in incomes in developing nations.
predicted the world's farmers would meet this demand by increasing
yields, or the amount produced per acre, in the U.S. and expanding
production overseas. But it didn't provide details on how farmers would
achieve these increases and it was based on some unlikely assumptions,
such as normal weather, steady economic growth and no changes in farm or
Globally, there has been an increase in severe
weather patterns, and farm policy changes are under consideration in the
U.S. and overseas.
But USDA economist David Stallings said
there's no way for the agency to forecast surprises like the current
drought in the U.S., so the agency's long-term projections don't reflect
But the key factor behind most of the USDA projections —
global population growth of about 1 percent a year — seems likely.
Stallings said as population grows and parts of the developing world
become more affluent, demand for crops and meat from cattle, poultry and
pork will grow. The USDA expects farmers to increase production to
capitalize on the greater demand for their products, and agricultural
economist Wesley Peterson said that was realistic.
over the last 200 years, food production has grown faster than
population," said Peterson, a professor at the University of
Specifically, it predicts a steady increase in
meat consumption per person and more meat exports. The USDA predicts
beef exports to the major beef-importing countries will jump 30 percent
to 8.1 million tons by 2022. Although the United States exports beef, it
is expected to become a net importer this year and consume 20 percent
of all exports by 2022.
Domestic production of beef isn't expected
to increase much until at least 2015 because many cattle producers who
have been hurt by drought and high feed costs have reduced the size of
U.S. corn production is expected to grow to 15.26
billion bushels by 2022 as better crop technology allows farmers to get
more out of each acre. That would be up from last year's
drought-stricken crop of 10.73 billion bushels, which was still one of
the largest in U.S. history thanks to more drought-resistant corn and
expanded planting. The USDA predicts U.S. farmers will control 46
percent of the export market in 2022.
The National Corn Growers
Association said the predictions show the great potential of the U.S.
corn crop, if everything comes together just right. And Paul Bertels, a
vice president with the trade group, said the USDA predictions are in
line with what corn growers expect.
"I don't think it's unrealistic," Bertels said.
The U.S. soybean crop is expected to grow to 3.6 billion bushels in 2022, up from the 3.3 billion expected this year.
USDA predicts the U.S. wheat crop will stay about the same over the
next decade, with farmers harvesting 2.08 billion bushels in 2022, down
from the 2.2 billion expected this year.
The agency expects U.S.
net farm income to reach a record $127.6 billion this year because of
the high crop prices coming out of the drought. Even with the increased
production the USDA predicts, income levels should stay relatively high,
it said, with net farm income about $94.7 billion in 2022.